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Hit a key combination, type in a few characters and up comes Firefox. Onlookers think its magic, but you know you have installed a program launcher. Launchers are all the more useful for quickly opening commonly-accessed files, launch applications or when you are like us and your installed programs list fails to fit on the screen!

I had been using launchy How To Be More Productive with Launchy Program Launcher How To Be More Productive with Launchy Program Launcher Read More as my preferred program launcher for quite some time, until I found FARR. FARR stands for “Find and Run Robot”, a program-launcher in simple english. However, it has some neat tricks and a truck-load of options up its sleeve. Let’s take a look.

You can install and download FARR from donationcoder. The program is absolutely free for use, however the developers want you to visit the site so they give away a free license key that you might want to enter by clicking on About from the system tray menu.

You can summon FARR via the Pause/Break key or with the Ctrl+Space combination. Start typing the first few characters of program/file you want to launch and it displays a list of top matches.


The first difference you would notice (compared to other program launchers) is that the results are numbered. Pressing any number would launch that particular result. The next time you summon FARR, the previous results that you launched would appear automatically so that you can quickly launch them if you need. Let’s say you launched Firefox — next time you can simply press Ctrl+1 to launch Firefox (reminiscent of Win + # shortcuts in Windows 7).

FARR allows you to extend its functionality by means of plugins. There are some excellent plugins available on the FARR Plugins page. There are plugins for integrating Remember the Milk, Google Tasks 5 Ways To Access Your Google Tasks 5 Ways To Access Your Google Tasks Read More , Everything search, Twitter and many more. You can find plugins for file information to screenshots to language translators.

There are plenty of options to keep the tweakers busy. You can customize the memory usage, hotkeys and skins. Specify how FARR gains focus, remains on top or not. You can specify your own font settings and play with transparency settings. On a more functional note, you can customize how FARR should treat missing files, duplicate links to the same file, control the history list, or exact match as the stopping condition and so on.

You can of course, customize the locations that are searched by FARR. However, if you really want to dig in deep, you can even control the order in which the results would appear. FARR uses a scoring system to determine which result would appear at the top. You can customize the scoring criteria to alter which results appear on the top.

So, if you would like to make PDF files rank higher than DOC files if they have the same name and are at the same location, you could add an entry for PDF files and assign it a higher score.

FARR also allows you to create aliases, which allows you to associate specific terms with a file or group of files. If you would like to launch Dreamweaver, Firefox and Vim for development, you can associate “development” with these three shortcuts and then typing in “development” and choosing the alias, all 3 apps will launch.

There are plenty of options and functionality offered by FARR to satisfy all. If you are a diligent tweaker, you have loads of options to play with and customize according to your taste. If you are an average user, use the default options and you are good to go. The large plugin list and an involved community provide the icing on the FARR Cake!

Do you use launcher applications? Which one is your favorite? Let us know

  1. sebastian
    February 8, 2010 at 12:50 am

    I use Executor, SlickRun and FARR (this in portable version). I have more launchers than things to launch. But I have them mostly for tweaking and learning more tweaks. Also I'm a keyboard maniac and I can not imagine myself using my laptop without a launcher. It would be completely annoying.

  2. FRED
    July 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Nah way to much work and mucking around, use Object Dock or Rocket Dock. You just move your mouse over to the edge of your screen area and a dock slides up with your apps and short cuts.

    Launching anything is a one click affair, to add new apps/shortcuts to the dock you just drag and drop it on the dock. Using something like FARR would be a step backwards.

  3. nod5
    June 26, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Nice review! It is worth mentioning that FARR has a very useful forum section at Donationcoder.

    I've been a FARR fanatic for quite some time but keep finding new cool ways to tweak it and speed up my searches all the time. The forum is great for help with that and for keeping up to date with new features.

  4. Dan
    June 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Does anyone know if this will work with bookmarks? If it does, I'd totally switch over, but Firefox bookmark support in Launchy would win me over without question.

  5. jollyrogue
    June 23, 2009 at 10:38 am

    the search bar in the Win7 start menu is good enough.. Just hit windows key and type in what you want.

  6. Syahid A
    June 23, 2009 at 6:24 am

    FARR is in my humble opinion, the best launcher that you can find on the Net. Absolute must have.

  7. Jeff Schallenberg
    June 23, 2009 at 9:58 am

    I dropped Launchy for KeyBreeze (
    Besides being a fast and flexible program launcher, it does 2 things that FARR and Launchy don't do:

    - Text completion - when your name and your email are as long as mine are, it is great to be able to enter it with just 3 keystrokes :-)

    - sticky notes. If I enter "note" into the search window, KeyBreeze will pop up a new blank sticky note. I can set alarms, and all my notes pop onto the top screen level whenever I press the search hotkey (the semicolon by default).

    I think KeyBreeze would be worth your taking a look!

    - Jeff

  8. Nick
    June 22, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    My favorite application!

  9. Simon SC
    June 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    About the only reason I use FARR is the incredible speed and customisation options, but mostly the speed. It is also extremely smart with the search terms. frx will very likely serve up Firefox as the first link. And you also just have to press Enter if its the first result that you want. Great program, and has its place even with the slower less powerful Vista start menu

  10. Yonathan
    June 22, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I wonder what's the point in using an application launcher on Vista and Windows 7. I mean, what about the Start Menu search box?

  11. mouser
    June 22, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Varun, thank you for such a nice write up of FARR -- it really made my day and it's things like this that inspire me to keep working on and improving the program.

    Please let me know if you have any feature requests for the program!


  12. Sean
    June 22, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    I've been using FARR on my flash drive for 4 months, and it's still AWESOME :D.

  13. drking
    June 22, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I used Launchy for 2 months before coming across FARR. I've been using FARR now for about 5 months and love it!!!! I'll never turn back to another launcher--it is my most used and trusted application.


  14. Sean O
    June 22, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    The new Google Toolbar 6 installs a quick launcher called QSB (Quick Search Box). While it doesn't have all of the options FARR has, it is lean, allows for instant searches (esp. when using Chrome), and requires zero maintenance.

    -- SEAN O

  15. Monica
    June 22, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    I have been using launchy from quite a time now, think this one appears quite better :)

  16. Making Money On Line
    June 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    This is good stuff, it helps in some many ways thank you!

  17. TobyGeek
    June 22, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Looks interesting, will definitely check it out.

    I used to use Launchy as well, and its multitude of features. But I wanted something simpler, so currently I use a program I found called Loader (<a href="" )
    It's a no bells-or-whistles program launcher, small and handy, simple to use.

  18. Versatile
    June 22, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I'd have to check this out. It maybe hard, because I am such a hardcore launchy fan!

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