Productivity Tip #8: Launchy for hyper-fast file access!

I’ve been looking for ways to improve my PC workflow, and I touched on that in an earlier Productivity Tip. One of my readers suggested that I use Launchy, which is “an open source keystroke launcher for Windows.” Essentially it’s an application that runs silently in the background that lets you quickly and easily access indexed data through super simple keystrokes. It’s simple to use and incredibly powerful.

For example, let’s say I need to open one of my most commonly accessed files, HumanMaleVisuals.gc. I’ll show you what I did before Launchy, and now what I do after Launchy:

  • Without Launchy: I have to open an Explorer window and navigate to c:depotdungeonrunnersbuildgameavatarraceshumanmale and then open HumanMaleVisuals.gc. This is annoying and time-consuming. I hate navigating with a mouse because it’s slow, so I always ended up simply typing it all out (I type 140wpm), until I eventually just up custom shortcuts to go straight to it.
  • With Launchy: I press the Launchy keyboard shortcut (Alt-Space), type ‘malevis’ and Launchy’s indexed search immediately selects the file I want. I hit enter, and it opens instantly. Right there I’ve saved time by simplifying a common task.

There’s a tremendous amount of power and customization available in Launchy. You can select which folders to search, what file types to search for within them (i.e., in the ‘textures’ directory it ignores all the material script files and ONLY looks for image files), how many potential results to show at a time, etc.

Another massive time-saver for me is accessing commonly used folders. I simply make a shortcut to the folder, then call it something simple and short to type. For example, let’s say I want to look at Bob Contractor’s submissions folder.

  • Without Launchy: I open an Explorer window and manually navigate to C:workcontractsBob Contractor.
  • With Launchy: I open Launchy with the alt-space shortcut and type ‘art bob’ and press enter.

I have a folder full of shortcuts to all my most commonly accessed applications and folders, with their names written in shorthand so I never have to type much.

One of Launchy’s best features for me is its extremely intelligent handling of partial and incomplete text strings. If I’m looking for HumanMaleVisuals.gc, I can type all sorts of crazy gibberish and STILL have it find the right file. As I was writing this I tried the following; ‘hu ma vi’ – ‘vis’ – ‘man gc’ – ‘man le sal’ – ‘ual’ – ‘male gc’ – ‘nma gc’ – ‘lev gc’ – and ALL of them correctly pointed to the file I wanted. And I have thousands of files indexed with very similar names. It’s also blazingly fast at doing this.

Using Launchy has dramatically decreased the amount of time it takes me to access the huge variety of files I touch at work every day and freed me even more from the shackles of Windows’ default search and means of accessing files and folders. I’d strongly suggest giving Launchy a shot. One of my favorite sites, LifeHacker, has a fantastic article on tweaking Launchy to fit your needs. Check it out!

Who else uses Launchy, or other software like it?

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