design for style


Launchy: file system teleportation


Having to traverse file system paths repeatedly (a common task facing web developers) is the virtual equivalent of lugging sacks of groceries up flights of stairs.

The scenario is this: a client emails a file ("Post this PDF on our site."). You choose to save the file and a dialog box opens either in My Documents or the last location you saved a file in this manner - perhaps another client's folder. So you start clicking. Let's go back to C:, then to "Program Files", to "Apache Group", then to "Apache 2" and ... so on ... and finally to "site-documents."

So you get that file into your local copy of the site and FTP it to the hosting server. Then you open more emails, and do similar things for a few other clients, and then there's a follow-up to the original request ("Oops. Typo, could you post this version of the file instead?").

Time to start over with this next bag of groceries...

Or not. Launchy, "The Open Source Keystroke Launcher for Windows", makes traversing virtual distance irrelevant. Think of it as a virtual teleporter.

Launchy screenshot

You trigger Launchy using a configurable key combination and then start typing the name of a folder or even a program. It will pop up in Launchy, you hit enter and if a folder, you get an Explorer window for that folder, and if a program, the program launches. Too cool!

For your client then, you simply save the files from the email into an easy to save to location, such as a sub-folder within "My Documents" (since "My Documents" is easy to get to in most dialog boxes because there's usually a built-in shortcut). I use a sub-folder I've named _processing for this purpose. Then, I trigger Launchy and pull up the directory with the file and copy it. After that, trigger Launchy again and enter in the location you want to paste the file in, paste it, and you're done.

Launchy can also launch web sites, do math, or submit searches to Google. It comes with a number of attractive skins, too.

Find out more about this little dynamo of a program at I could go on about it for quite some time, but, trust me, you owe it to yourself to just start using the program.

And it it's open source, so you pay nothing. You can donate $ to the developer via the project's web site, if you're inspired. (He deserves it!)

This program probably saves me 15 minutes a day. It's a must-have for any Windows users who find themselves hustling files, traversing directories, or simply beset by the need to travel a lot of virtual distance.


© 2008