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 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, 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