The Search Programs and Files option in the Start Menu will indeed find your programs from the All Programs list and other areas like Control Panel. But there are certain features that are available in the below Program Launchers which makes them special and more useful than the default options that you have.

There are lots of Program Launchers available out there today.I have handpicked and explored 3 of them here to give you a better overview. Care to see what these program launchers have in its store for you? Keep reading.

Launchy Program Launcher

Installer Size: 4.34 MB (Portable Option is available)

Supported Operating System: Windows XP, Vista & 7

May it be finding an installed program from your system or searching Google, Launchy can speed up your search. Josh Karlin the brain behind Launchy developed it for his own personal use and later distributed it freely for the rest of the world.

Alt + Space is the default hotkey set for Launchy.

If you don’t like using Alt + Space keys, you can always change the hotkey to something else from the Launchy Options, General Tab (User Interface)

How to add a directory to Catalog and search for a file

Launchy not only helps in locating programs from Start Menu but can also be used to find files and folders in your drives.

Add Directory to Catalog

Add Directory to Catalog

  • Go to Launchy Options.
  • Under Catalog Tab you will find some predefined list of Directories already added for locating your installed Programs.
  • Click the + symbol and select the folder that you want to add to the Catalog. Check the Include executables and Include directories checkboxes. Also specify the depth that you want Launchy to search.
  • Now click on the Rescan Catalog button so that it will index the files that are available in the new directory that you added.

How to Use Runner Plugin to execute a command in command prompt.

The Runner Plugin is used to execute batch files or executables along with arguments at one go.

  • Go to Launchy Options.
  • Under Plugins Tab, from the left pane of available plugins select Runner.
  • On the right side of the window, click the + symbol which will create a new row to add your runner launch custom command. You should already have an entry for cmd.exe, let’s see how to execute that.
  • Press Alt + Space to bring up Launchy
  • Type the short code cmd which should bring up the custom search command that is added for cmd.exe. Now press tab and type whoami as your argument and press enter.
  • The command prompt will be launched with the command whoami and its result.

How to Use Weby Plugin to search Google

You can use the Weby Plugin to search Google or any other website quite easily.

Google Search in Launchy

Weby fetching Google Command

  • Go to Launchy Options.
  • Under Plugins Tab, from the left pane of available plugins select Weby.
  • On the right side of the window, click the + symbol which will create a new row to add your favorite website and launch them. You should already have an entry for Google, let’s see how to execute that.
  • Press Alt + Space to bring up Launchy
  • Type the short code Google which should bring up the Google entry that is added with .weby at the end. Now press tab and type your search query and press enter.
  • Your default browser is will be launched with the Google results for your search term.

Enso Launcher

Installer Size: 12.1 MB (No Portable version)

Supported Operating System: Windows XP, Vista, and Win2K

Enso helps you to open your favorite programs by just typing commands and sending them to your computer.

Enso Launcher

The first thing you need to type in Enso Launcher is the help command. Hold the hotkey (Caps lock) and type help and press enter. Enso’s Help Central page will be displayed for you in your browser.

The command list tab will give you the complete list of commands that you can use with Enso. The Enso Help Guide is exhaustive and you should really spend some time there to effectively use Enso.

Enso hotkey by default is Quasimodal which means you need to hold down the hotkey (Caps lock) to perform the action you want, just like you use shift key for inserting special characters.

But don’t worry you can change Quasimodal to sticky mode via Preferences tab. You can also change the default hot key (Caps lock) a.k.a Enso Entry Key to something else via the same Preferences tab.

There are three cool features of Enso that I would like to point out to you,

Google Search

Searching Google has become lot more easy using Enso Program Launcher.

Enso Google Search

Enso Google Search

  • Press the Enso Hotkey (Caps lock), which will bring up the space to enter Enso commands on the top left corner of the screen.
  • Enter the word Google followed by the search term and hit enter.
  • Your default browser will be launched with the Google search results.

Calculator

Enso’s calculator is very powerful and provides the results on spot, without the need to copy and paste the end results.

Enso Calculator

Enso Calculator

  • Select the following formula 15+ (9.2*11)-(22/2) =
  • Press the Hotkey (Caps lock)
  • Type the word calculate and press enter.
  • The result will be populated automatically on the right hand side of the equal to operator.

Go Command

When you have a huge list of windows opened it is often tedious to use Alt + Tab to search for the window you want. Enso’s Go command will list you the windows that you have opened and you can easily launch them by typing the tab name or selecting them.

  • Press the Hotkey and type go, a list of open windows will be listed for you to select from.
  • Either you can use the down arrow key to pick one or you can directly type the tab name to open it.

Enso is indeed humanized :-)

Executor Program Launcher

Installer Size: Portable version is 936 KB and Installer size is 0.98 MB

Supported Operating System: Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/Win7/Win8

Executor is a multi-purpose launcher which can make your life easier. Download and extract the portable version and run the Executor.exe

The default hotkey for Executor is windows key + Z

I have highlighted some of the cool features of Executor below,

Access Clipboard

Launch Executor and type clipboard, you will be presented with the list of items that are available in your clipboard.

Executor displays Clipboard Items

Executor Clipboard Items

Select the item that you want from the clipboard and hit enter. The item that you selected will be available for you now. You can also save the clipboard contents to a file using the keyword ?saveclipboard.

Apps

Type apps in the Executor and it will bring you the list of windows that are currently opened in your system.

Open Windows List

Open Windows List

Keywords

Keywords are something special in Executor. You can assign a keyword for each command that you want to execute.

Go to Executor Settings, Keyword Tab and Right click on the grid to Add, Delete or rearrange the keywords. Assign keywords to your favorite programs and launch them from Executor.

Question Keywords

Use the ? operator to get the list of keywords available for you to perform some important actions like log off, shutdown or restart your system.

List of keywords that starts with ?

Question Keywords

There are also some cool experimental features like setting alarm, stop clock, show date & time etc. Feel free to explore this powerful tool.

Other Program Launchers

Below are some of the other Program Launchers, feel free to have a look at them too.

Couldn’t find your favorite Program Launcher here, care to say a few words about it? Never used a Program Launcher Before? Do you think this can improve your productivity?