Combine a docking launcher and keyboard shorcuts with ProgramLaunch

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ProgramLaunch is a applications launcher that docks into the top or bottom of your desktop and can be accessed either by mousing over the edge of the screen or by a shortcut key.

It offers a number of interesting functions such as organizing shortcuts by group, assigning keyboard shortcuts for each icon, assigning a single launch icon to a group of apps, and others.

This is a launcher that is somewhat reminiscent of Rocketdock and ObjectDock in that it is a dockable, horizontal row of icons, but it is different in that it does not feature the Mac-style zooming into the active icon, allows for clustering of icons in groups (like Stablauncher), and offers a number of functions such as setting keyboard shorcuts for apps and using a single icon to launch multiple applications.

programlaunch-screenshot3

More notes below:

  • How it works: hover on the side of the screen with the mouse for a few seconds and the launcher will appear, move away to autohide. (Or press F12 to summon/dismiss. You could alternately switch off auto hiding altogether and use the keyboard shortcut primarily). Drag shortcuts to add to the launcher, drag them across the different groups you create. Overall very user friendly.
  • Groups: create a group that makes sense for each set of icons that belong together. These are placed at the bottom of the launcher and function like tabs.
  • Keyboard shortcuts: you can define these for any app whose icon appears in the launcher. Also allows for setting launch parameters and path.
  • Batch launching: you can create shortcuts that launch multiple apps. As an example, I am using this for a bunch of apps that I have disabled on startup that I nonetheless sometimes like to have open at once. The one strange thing is that the program requires that all apps that are batch-launched be included somewhere in the launcher individually, which seems quite needless.
  • Modules: including a clock, calendar, trashcan, and power modules (for laptops). These are mini-apps placed in the launcher that show the time, show the date, control the trashcan, ans show power status, respectivly. Can be switched on/off.
  • Customizability: everything about this program is customizable, including whether it auto-docks, how many seconds it takes till it responds to your mouse, how long it takes to go away, the size, placement, and spacing of the icons (including the “module” icons), etc. It offers a handful of built in skins that will probably not be enough for people who are into skins.
  • Memory use: takes up around 14 megs in memory. Not a lot but not lightweight.
  • Portable version: provided, that saves data in the folder where the executable is placed.

Wish list:

  • Icons on multiple rows: as it stands right now you can use a scrollbar to shift to offscreen icons, and the option to show icons on multiple rows would be a great addition.
  • More modules: two I can think of are a volume control, and a system resources gauge similar to SystrayMeter.
  • Tooltips bugfix: the version I tested displayed ampersands (&) within the names of my icons when I moused over them, but I’m sure this will be fixed in future versions.

The verdict: a rather nice, good looking launcher with some good features, especially if you like keyboard shortcuts as well. Version Tested: 3.3.9 Compatibility: Windows. Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 3.1 megs).