How To Be More Productive with Launchy Program Launcher

Shankar Ganesh 23-05-2008

How To Be More Productive with Launchy Program Launcher launchylogomainblue Launchy, previously mentioned as a Windows start menu alternative Best Alternatives to Windows Start Menu Read More , is a powerful keystroke based launcher for your Windows computer. Using Launchy, you can start programs, view files and folders, access bookmarks and perform other such tasks.


In this post, I’ll talk about how you can use Launchy to stay more productive throughout the day. Trust me, once you get the hang of it, you’ll never touch icons or your start menu again. It just rocks. Before you go about using it, let’s have a look at some basic configuration options that you can alter to make Launchy work better for you.

Installation and Basic Configuration

Just grab the installer from the Sourceforge page, install Launchy and if the installation went smoothly – chances are you won’t see anything new. No system tray icon. No visible windows. Yup, nothing really. Until you press the ALT + SPACE keys together.


You can now right click on the Launchy box and configure Launchy’s behaviour by going to Options. Keep the first option checked if you want Launchy to be shown all the time. I wouldn’t recommend it though, since it’d interrupt your use of other applications/windows. You can, of course, modify the shortcut key to anything you wish – just modify the Hotkey option.


You can also set the transparency levels from the GUI Options. Launchy also provides alternate suggestions if you typed an unknown program name, you can set how many such items should be displayed.

From the Skins tab, you can choose from a number of skins for Launchy to make it blend with your desktop. User-created skins are available on and also from the Sourceforge forum.

Configure Indexing

Launchy needs to index your programs before you can actually use it. By default, Launchy indexes your Start Menu folder since most programs are present there. However, if you want to be able to launch your programs or files, you need to tell Launchy where they’re present.



To do this, use the Catalog tab and use the + button to add your commonly used directories to the Launchy index. You also need to specify what files need to be indexed – you might want your music files indexed, but not your .dll files. You can specify using the File Types box.

By checking the Executables option, you’re telling it to index all .exe files (these are generally software programs installed on your computer).

When you’re done with that, just click Rescan Catalog and now Launchy should have got all your program and files info into your index. Pretty quick too!


Using Launchy

Let’s take off with Launchy. First, just press the default hotkey combination. If you’ve modified the hotkey using the settings, press the ones that you’ve opted for. The launch window should popup.

launchy_scrnJust type in a few letters of the app’s name and Launchy should instantly show its icon in the dock. Have a look at the screenshot on the right. I typed fox and it suggested Firefox. I launched it by pressing Enter



In case you typed something and some other program instead of the program you intended to start shows up, just use the “down arrow” key for more programs that match your keyword. For instance, I typed Windows and it showed multiple suggestions.

Launchy can also be used as a simple calculator and it can peform basic arithmetic operations.

Portable Launchy

If you’ve got a USB drive and it’s loaded with portable apps, then the portable version of Launchy is something you shouldn’t miss to check out. Just activate the Portable Mode option from the Options dialog (please see the first screenshot in this post).

Then, copy the Launchy folder from C:Program Files and put it on your USB Drive. Launchy will now store its configuration files in your thumb drive and will act as a portable launcher.


Launchy supports plugins, and a few basic plugins are already present and can be activated. For instance, the Weby plugin indexes your Firefox and IE bookmarks so that you can open them quickly from Launchy.


You might find some more useful plugins for Launchy here. Also, check out this excellent Lifehacker article on how you can tweak Launchy even more to create todo lists, reminders etc.

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  1. M
    August 10, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I downloaded Launchy and I'm trying to use the application, but it isn't working.

    Then I tried to uninstall it, but it claimed that Launchy was running.

    • M
      August 10, 2009 at 7:03 pm

      Never mind, I figured it out.

  2. ken
    August 1, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I've been using launchy for a few months now, and I love it- unfortunately I think I'm going to have to remove it and try out keybreeze. After about a week or so of running the process uses ~800MB of memory, and I really don't index all that many folders (only about 400 items in the index; I primarily use it for the putty plugin)

  3. Artem Russakovskii
    May 29, 2008 at 2:46 am

    I've used Launchy for about a year too, and it's one of the most useful programs you can get. There's no going back. It doesn't use any resources for me and doesn't crash.

  4. avogadro
    May 27, 2008 at 11:21 am

    I have been using Keybreeze on multiple machines. I love the device. I hate using a mouse and I hate using the touchpad even more. Great alternative!

  5. David
    May 26, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    I have been using this application for about a year now and I can't go back. It takes a little to get used to (because you usually forget you have it open and are so used to using the mouse to open things). But once you get used to using the keyboard, you can do things so much more quickly...its seriously incredible. Now I wonder how I lived without it.


  6. jkitc
    May 25, 2008 at 9:29 am

    When you activate the Portable Mode option, does that mean it will run off your USB and you can uninstall from: Add/Remove? What does it actually mean?

    • Shankar Ganesh
      May 25, 2008 at 9:32 pm

      It'll install itself in your portable drive's directory and you can run it from there. Uninstallation - I'm not so sure, but I think if you remove it from Add/Remove programs, even the normal installation of Launchy on your PC would also be gone.

  7. Colin
    May 25, 2008 at 1:16 am

    I've used Keybreeze for ages. Very similar. Just in case you want to try an alternate. :-)

  8. Monica
    May 24, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Have 512mb RAM.. Dont know the reason why it happened so.. :)

  9. Monica
    May 24, 2008 at 3:03 am

    Got to know about this tool an year ago by one of my friend.. its a nice tool to work with but it slowed done my PC's performance so had to remove it.

    • Aibek
      May 24, 2008 at 5:30 am

      Normally Launchy is not so heavy on memory, how much RAM do you have?

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 24, 2008 at 8:26 am

      How fast or slow it goes depends on how many files you are asking it to index and how much you download to your computer on a daily basis. So if you are constantly downloading video files via Bittorrent (for example) and you are asking Launchy to index them all, then something like that will slow your computer to a crawl.

      So if Launchy is slowing your computer down, maybe a good idea is to review what files you are asking it to index? Maybe take some of those files off?

      • Shankar Ganesh
        May 24, 2008 at 10:14 am

        That's a good point you're making there Mark. I use it on my computer with 2 GB of RAM, so never felt it doing harm.

    • Varun Kashyap
      May 24, 2008 at 11:01 am

      Thats sad if it does so, because its too addictive to avoid. Don't remember the last time I clicked start and pointed to All programs :)

  10. Justin
    May 23, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Wow, almost closed this because I thought it was about a keylogger and saw it wasn't, glad I kept reading. Nice find. Going now to download.

    • Shankar Ganesh
      May 24, 2008 at 10:15 am

      Haha! Justin - you're going to save a lot of time if you're going to begin using it anyway :P