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Program launchers have made the Start menu obsolete for me and I am sure for plenty of people out there. So much so that it feels tiring and cumbersome to go around looking for what you want to launch in the Start menu. There are plenty of program launcher applications available and we have reviewed many of them in the past.

One thing that is common with most launcher applications is that they let you launch programs using the keyboard. There is usually a combination of keys that you need to press and the appropriate application will be launched. This is great for keyboard ninjas, but a lot of new computer users prefer to use the mouse more than the keyboard.

If you are one of them, or you prefer to work more with the mouse there is this great application called MouseExtender that was made for you.

MouseExtender is program launcher with a heavy bias towards the mouse. The application is available for download as a zip file. It runs without installation. Just extract the zip file and fire up the included executable file. You might not notice any activity on the screen when you do so. A glance at the system tray would let you know that MouseExtender is running.

Once it is running in the background, MouseExtender can be summoned using a configurable mouse button. The default is the middle click. You should avoid setting it to a simple left/right click for obvious reasons. The MouseExtender User Interface pops up right under the mouse pointer which allows you to perform various actions. By default, it shows you a button each for the Control Panel, Restart and Shutdown.

mouse program launcher

Now, what good is an program launcher if you cannot launch your favorite applications in a breeze? MouseExtender thus lets you add commonly-accessed items to its user interface so you can launch them in a snap. MouseExtender lets you add any file (which means any program), any folder, any web address or any running program to the user interface as a launcher.

Things can quickly start getting out of hand if you have too many launchers inside MouseExtender. Perhaps for this reason, MouseExtender also lets you create tabs that allow you to sort the added launchers into different categories. However, grouping into tabs means that you would have to click an additional time – first to go to the tab that houses the launcher and then on the launcher to actually launch the application. So we suggest to add only the most commonly accessed items on MouseExtender.


MouseExtender offers a few simple settings that you can configure as you deem suitable. You can show/hide the 3 default buttons that let you restart and shutdown, you can configure how you want to summon MouseExtender, change the number of icons in a row, set it to auto start or use the compact mode. If you are up for it, you can also customize the launcher icons and pass additional parameters to the launched programs by right clicking on the program launcher icon that you want to edit.

MouseExtender is a great program launcher if you are biased towards the mouse. The one thing that irked me was that – it does require some initial configuration to add all the programs and folders that you want to launch with it. On the flip side, it stores all the settings and configurations in an XML file (found in the same folder as the MouseExtender executable) you can backup or take over to another computer to skip some of the configuration chores (provided the programs are installed in the same location, of course). Barring this minor complaint from a lazy me, the program looks and works great and helps you launch your favorite applications in a snap.

Do you use application launchers? Are you a “keyboard” or a “mouse” person?

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  1. Frank
    December 15, 2009 at 4:38 am

    I simply make a folder titled "Shortcuts" in the main C drive area (where you see Program Files, Windows, etc), then create several sub-folders inside there labled with : AVP (Audio,Video,Photos), Misc, Online, Safety, and Utilities. I copy program shortcuts then into the correct sub-folder type, even create sub-sub folders in Online and AVP for Browsers,Messengers,Misc (online), Converters ( AVP) ,Media Players..... you get the idea. And lastly, I go to my taskbar, right click, create new toolbar, point the new toolbar to that Shortcuts folder, and Voila! My own Launcher toolbar, uses no extra RAM, cleans up my desktop, and I find all my programs instantly.

  2. Alex
    December 14, 2009 at 7:12 am

    The huge amount of RAM is my experience, too. Not really what I concede to such a little tool !

  3. Sean L.
    December 12, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I like it, but it seems awful buggy at times, like slowing processes down, like my mouse pointer, not sure if I want to keep it, maybe this is because of what Martin mentioned above, uses too much RAM....

  4. Martin Cohn
    December 12, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    A good desktop de-clutterer, but there's a price. Specifically, 40 MB of RAM. That's a bit heavy for my taste.