What Is The Best Way To Launch Apps On Your Mac?


Hi this is Gary with MacMost.com. Today let’s
figure out what’s the best way to launch apps on your Mac.
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There you could read more about it, join us, and get exclusive content. There are so many different ways to launch
apps on your Mac. But which one is the best? Let’s take a look at all of them and try to
figure that out. Let’s look at how many actions it takes. Whether you can do it with the mouse
or the keyboard. How versatile each option is. So the most basic way to open applications
is to go to the Applications folder. Let’s, in the Finder, create a new finder window
and in that finder window we go to the Applications folder. You may see it here on the left side
of your Favorites. If not you can easily add it there. But you can also choose Go and then
Applications and then you’re in the Applications folder. Here I’m using List View so it’s easy
for me to scroll through all the different applications here. I can then launch one by
double clicking it. Now this has the advantage of showing you all of your apps or at least
the ones in the Applications folder. I actually have some games in the Games folder so they
wouldn’t be here. So it’s not all applications for everybody. A disadvantage is though that you’ve got sometimes
things in subfolders. Like here I’ve got a Utilities Subfolder and some publishers put
their group of apps inside of a subfolder as well. So sometimes there are some extra
steps to get to things. You can jump around using the keyboard just as you can in any
Finder window. So hitting the letter P for instance jumps to the file with P at the beginning
so you can move around a little quicker here. But clearly there’s going to be too many steps
to use this as the main way to launch apps. What makes a lot more sense is using the Dock.
This is built for launching apps. You’ve got the most common apps or at least the default
system apps here in the Dock. You can even add more apps to the Dock any way that you
want. So you can drag an app into the Dock and add it in there and remove it just as
easily. That’s a great advantage. Having you most common apps there. But it’s a disadvantage
in that you don’t have all of your apps there. So if there’s an app that you occasionally
have to use you may not want it in the Dock. You could rearrange things of course. I can
move Pages over here for instance. So you can customize this to your liking. You also can go straight to a document in
the Dock. So I can use Control click or two finger click on the trackpad and it will bring
up recent documents here. So instead of launching Pages and opening a document you can tell
it to go right to a document that I’ve recently used. Now the Dock, I think, is the clear
winner if your hand is already on the mouse or keyboard and if the application is in the
Dock. There’s going to be no faster way to launch it than just simply clicking on the
app. But you can actually use the keyboard with
the Dock as well. By default it’s Control F3 that will bring up the Dock with cursor
control. You can use the arrow keys to go side by side. You can hit a letter to jump
to an app with that first letter. Then you can hit Return to launch an app. You can even
use that to access a document. So I can go over here to Pages and I can use the up arrow
to go and access those. Now using it with keyboard control is a lot of steps. So it’s
probably not something you want to use. But it is interesting that the Dock can be fully
controlled by the keyboard. Note that you have to have this enabled in
System Preferences under Keyboard and then Shortcuts. Then you want to go to Keyboard,
not Launchpad and Dock where you would think, and there’s the Keyboard Shortcut for Move
Focus to the Dock. Control F3. Note that depending upon how you have this checkbox set you may
need to hold the fn key in addition to Control. Now you can combine these methods here, the
Applications Folder and the Dock, by putting the Applications Folder in the Dock. So I
can do Command Up Arrow to go up a level. There’s my Applications Folder. I can drag
that to the right side of the Dock. Now I can click here and access my Applications.
It works better if you Control click on it and switch List View. Now you can go in here
and see all of your applications and launch them. So it takes away that disadvantage of
the Dock not listing all of your applications. You now have a way to launch less commonly
used apps using the Dock. Apple does have a primary way for you to launch
apps. That’s Launchpad. That’s in the Dock here as well. You click on Launchpad and get
this grid of icons. It looks at lot like things do on the iPhone or iPad which is an advantage
if you’re used to switching between devices. You can click on these dots here to go to
different screens or you can swipe with the trackpad or the top of the Apple mouse. You
can use the arrow keys to navigate around in there. You can fully use the keyboard.
So you don’t have to rely on clicking to actually get there. You can launch Launchpad with a keyboard shortcut.
Let’s go to System Preferences again and under Keyboard Shortcuts in Keyboard you’ve got
Launchpad and Dock. Here’s is a shortcut here and I had to set it. By default it was turned
off. I set it to F4. So I hit F4 and it brings up Launchpad. Now I can just start typing
the name of the app. It narrows things down. Once it’s narrowed enough so I can return
and it will launch the app. This is a pretty quick way to launch apps. So now let’s get to the one that I use. That’s
to use Spotlight or the Spotlight menu or Search. You’ve got the icon up here and you
can click it there to bring it up but it’s much easier to use the keyboard shortcut of
Command Space. That brings up Spotlight Search and you can search typing anything like the
name of the app. So let’s type calc for calculator. As soon as it’s the top hit there and selected
you can click on it or just hit return and it will launch automatically. This has the
advantage of being able to find an app anywhere it is on your Mac. It also has a huge advantage
in that it can find files as well. So you can look for the document instead of the app.
As a matter of fact Spotlight can be used for all sorts of things. Doing calculations.
Looking things up online. So it has a huge advantage in that you remember one keyboard
shortcut, Command Space, and then it can do a whole bunch of different things depending
upon what you type. It’s basically the same number of steps as using Launchpad with the
keyboard but it’s more versatile. For that reason I think it’s the winner here. There are some more ways to launch apps. For
instance you can use Siri. So I can click on the Siri icon or use the keyboard shortcut
for Siri. If you go into System Preferences and then Siri you can see your shortcut here.
In this case it’s holding Command Space but you can change it to something else. So Hold
Command Space and then I can ask Siri to launch an app. Launch Calculator. Now you can use
Siri on newer Macs by using the words Hey and then Siri and then you can launch an app
without touching the keyboard or the mouse at all. But if you have an older Mac you can
still do this, kind of. If you go into System Preferences in Catalina and then go into Accessibility
you can then go to Voice Control. If you have Voice Control turned on you can simply say
Launch or Open and the name of the app. Launch calculator. Now the disadvantage to this is that it’s
going to then hear hear everything that you say. So when I’m recording this video, for
instance, I can’t really use it. If I’m talking to a coworker or talking on the phone then
it’s going to pick all of that up and try to interpret it as commands or dictation. Now I should mention one other way to launch
applications that does win in certain situations. That’s to simply open the document and don’t
worry about opening the app. For instance here I have a TextEdit document. If I double
click on it will launch TextEdit automatically. So there’s no need for me to launch TextEdit
and then open that app. Just use the document to launch the app. It doesn’t work for things
like calculator, or Safari, or even Mail that don’t have documents attached to them. But
launching something like TextEdit or Pages or Numbers this could be the best way to launch
apps especially if the document you need is right there on the screen. So I think the winner here is Spotlight. It
is the way that I launch Applications and I know a lot of power users prefer it. It’s
easy to do with the keyboard. It’s pretty quick and it’s really versatile because you
can not only use it to launch apps but to go directly to a document and to do all sorts
of other things. So there’s only one keyboard shortcut that you need to remember. But I think there are a lot of Honorable Mentions
here. Launchpad isn’t actually that bad and in a lot of cases it’s in a tie with Spotlight
in how many actions it takes to launch an app. The Dock, I think, is the clear winner
as long as the app is actually in the Dock and you happen to have your hand on the mouse
or trackpad. If you already have the document right there and it’s easy to move your cursor
on to it and double click it then that actually beats all of the other options as there’s
no need to actually launch the app as a separate action. So what’s your preferred method of launching
apps and why. Let us know in the comments below.

20 thoughts on “What Is The Best Way To Launch Apps On Your Mac?

  1. All my most used apps are on my dock. So I launch them that way. If the app is not on my dock, then I use launchpad to load apps. This works best for me.

  2. My favourite methods are from the dock or launchpad. Launching apps via finder just feels a bit old fashioned. Whereas the dock and launchpad look like the dock and app grid on iOS. As for using Siri and spotlight search. I rarely use them anyway.

  3. Most used go on dock, for other apps I bring up the launchpad by pinching with four fingers. I’m faster at doing gestures than typing, it seems more practical to me

  4. I finally figured out how to run Perl on the Mac. Just in Terminal go to the directory containing Perl source files, key Perl followed by the name of a source file including type pl. But I can’t find where the Perl interpreter/compiler is held. It is not in applications or utilities. Maybe it’s not classified as an app, it’s a program that can be run inside the app Terminal. Well where is it?

  5. Is there any way to alter the settings on my IMac camera, I had an app but since the latest update it does not work, keep up your excellent work

  6. For me, I use the dock, the launcher, and right clicking on a document and then clicking on "open with", which I love because it gives me a list of the apps that can open that file.

  7. Most of the apps I use are in the dock, if not I select the Apps folder in the doc. I've tried to use Spotlight but… It's just not my Jam.

  8. Dock when mousing around, Alfred/Spotlight when typing anyways, Launchpad when I forgot the name of that once in a couple of weeks used App.

  9. 3:42 you probably dont want to create the applications folder shortcut to the dock when you can right click the launchpad icon on the dock out of the box

  10. Dock wins hands down. Otherwise, spotlight. Launchpad… and last would be the Applications folder. I would never think to use Siri, although that's an option. In fact, launch Siri mostly by mistake if I hit that last icon on my MacBook Pro Touch Bar. I then promptly hit Escape.

  11. You should do a video of all the stuff that Spotlight is capable of doing. I love it! It's my go to for launching my apps too.

  12. I think we need to do some speed tests. Comparing all the various ways to open an app. I will wager that command+space+three first letters of the app, then return is the fastest.

  13. The Dock first, then Spotlight. I’m a light user and all my most used apps are grouped together in the Dock. If I need an app that’s not in the Dock I use Spotlight.

  14. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I learned a few shortcuts that I wasn't aware of. I mainly use dock, and then spotlight or the applications folder. But I often forget about spotlight and you've given me the shortcut for it, which I appreciate. I also put launchpad back into my dock, since it's pretty good and visually appealing vs the apps folder. However, the wonderful tip is seeing that I can change the pop-up window when looking at the apps folder or others from my dock, so see recent or a list of all. WOW!!! That is so cool. Thanks again!

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