Launchpad is one of the forgotten features in macOS that doesn’t get much attention in the media. Do you still use it on your Mac?
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
Launchpad has been in macOS for years now, but you almost never hear about it in the media. It’s one of those features that is sort of just there, and it makes me wonder if anybody is still using it on their Mac.
This very question came up in a recent thread on the Apple subreddit:
Coufu: “I accidentally hit F4 and Launchpad came up and I’m like, oh I forgot about all this. Does anyone use Launchpad to launch apps?”
Gwelch: “I think it depends what type of person you are:
Spotlight: you know the name and spelling of what you want and want to use only one input device (keyboard), i.e. you’re a literary or aural person.
Applications Folder in Dock: you might not know the name of what you want but you might know what it looks like, and want to use only one input device (mouse), i.e. you’re a visual person.
Launchpad: you feel like using the keyboard then the mouse, or you really like gestures, but you want to click search then type with the keyboard, you’re not sure, and you want to use a program you’ve created a shortcut to, but not in the dock for some reason, and you like things organised by the time they were installed, but not everything that is installed, and you’ve rearranged some of it because some things are better in folders which isn’t visual but uses the mouse, plus the newly installed version is now at the end, but not always, and you like to move sideways while scrolling vertically but without inertia so getting to the newest program on the last page takes several swipes, and you want to do this while any reference material you have open onscreen is hidden, because you don’t need that; you’re an expert.”
Kelsenellenelvial: “…I use Launch Pad because I can put it on the same hot corner as Dashboard used to use. Unfortunately lazy me has never bothered to organize Launch pad so half the time I can’t find what I’m looking for and use spotlight.”
Leog: “I do. I manage it like iOS’s home screen. But like the iOS’s home screen, it is kind of losing out to search. I use spotlight search to launch everything now.”
Youhaveafreindinme: “Me. Got use to it, but spotlight is generally faster. However, for newly installed programs launchpad is nice. You see a chronological list of apps installed in order. Useful for quick access to latest installed Mac app.”
Loyaltothegroup: “Spotlight is faster? I’m not sure. Typing Apple+space is probably marginally faster than the launchpad trackpad gesture, but on the other hand, spotlight brings up more irrelevant search hits (because it doesn’t search only apps). I would actually guess that using launchpad is a tiny bit faster on average, but there is very little difference.”
Bigandrewgold: “Unless you are a horribly slow typer spotlight is damn fast. I can type the first letter of my most common apps, or the first 2 letters of just about every other app and press enter and itll be open. Dont have to drag my mouse around and go through 4 pages on launchpad to find the app i want.
I can do cmd+space, f, enter in about a half a second to launch factorio. Or w for word, or m for matlab, or p for parallels, or s for spotify, and the list goes on.”
Krish: “I’ve configured hot corners so that when i go into the top right hand corner it opens launchpad. For some apps this is quicker than spotlight for me.”
I found the discussion on Reddit quite interesting, and I was surprised at the number of people who use Spotlight instead of Launchpad. I’ve never bothered much with Spotlight for some reason. I know it’s there but I tend to be more icon-oriented so Launchpad has always worked quite well for me.
Perhaps it’s because I spend so much time in iOS when not working on my Mac that Launchpad feels so comfortable to me. And I use Apple’s first Magic Trackpad, so the gesture to open Launchpad is quick and easy for me.
At this point I’d be really bummed out if Apple removed Launchpad someday. While I’ve seen no indications that the company is considering doing this, you never know. If few people use Launchpad then Apple could eventually remove it. Then again that would go against the company’s recent history of adding common features between iOS and macOS.
Organize your Launchpad screen for the best results
One thing I didn’t do in the past was to take the time to organize my Launchpad screen. At one point I had a huge amount of app icons strewn across multiple pages in Launchpad. That proved to be a big pain in the ass as it took too long to find the app I wanted to click on.
So I whittled it down to just one page, and that has worked well for me. I can get to my most used macOS applications very quickly, without having to scroll through page after page of app icons in Launchpad. Taking the time to organize my Launchpad screen was well worth it.
One thing is for sure though, Launchpad is a very helpful and useful feature in macOS for some of us.
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