Streamline Launchpad and make it faster, more useful

Do you use Launchpad on the Apple Mac? If the answer is No or Rarely, perhaps you just haven’t set it up right. It can be a useful tool and a quick way to access applications, but at first sight it just seems to make life harder. With a few simple changes though, it can be made easier to use and provide faster access to your apps.

Launchpad was introduced with OS X Lion and it is clearly a feature that has been transferred from iOS. It is Apple’s attempt to provide easy access to the apps installed on the Mac in a similar way to the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. One interface across all platforms.

Microsoft tried this with Windows 8, but was far less successfull. In fact, it was a bit of a disaster. With Launchpad on the Apple mac though, you are not forced to use the iOS-like interface and it can be completely ignored if you choose to. It does not replace standard methods of interacting with the computer that we are used to and you can use whichever method suits you best.

If you don’t use Launchpad though, here are some tips that might change your mind.

Launch Launchpad

There are several ways to start Launchpad and there is an icon in the Dock that you can simply click. Alternative methods may be preferred though and it can be started by pinching with a thumb and three fingers on the trackpad (spread will dismiss Launchpad). This can be a bit awkward if you have big hands though.

If this does not Start Launchpad, go to the Apple menu, System Preferences, Trackpad. select the More Gestures tab and tick the box next to Launchpad.

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The best method is to press the Launchpad hotkey on the keyboard. On my MacBook pressing F4 starts Launchpad, but key assignments do sometimes change between different Macs and keyboard generations. If you don’t have a keyboard shortcut to start Launchpad or you want to change it, go to System Preferences, Keyboard, Shortcuts. Select Launchpad and Dock on the left, tick Show Launchpad, then click on the right and press the keys you want to use, making sure that they aren’t already used by something else.

Launchpad on OS X

Rearrange apps in Launchpad

One of the best ways to make Launchpad more useful is to rearrange the apps. Like iOS, you can click, hold, then drag an icon to move it to a new position. Dragging it to the edge of the screen on the right or the left enables you to move it to a new screen.

You have apps in the Dock at the bottom of the screen, so there is no need to have the exact same apps on the first screen of Launchpad (the one displayed by default). Drag all the apps that are in the Dock to screen two or three and drag apps that are not in the Dock to screen one. This avoids duplication and it makes it easier to access those apps that are not in the Dock.

The easiest apps to find are those in the top left corner of the screen, so drag your most used apps to this position.

Configure Launchpad on OS X

Remember, these are apps that are not in the Dock. They are your second most used apps.

Create folders in Launchpad

You might want to organise apps by creating folders. On the one hand this makes them slightly harder to get to and you have to click a folder and then click an app, but on the other hand, you might find it easier to open a folder than to hunt across several screens for an app.

You could create a Games folder for your games, a Photography folder for photo editing apps, an Internet folder with browsers, instant messaging, online drives, and so on. It is your choice and the folders will depend on what apps you have.

Creating folders is exactly the same as with an iPad or iPhone and you click and drag one app icon and drop it on another. The folder is named automatically, but if it is not what you want, it can be clicked and changed.

Create folders in Launchpad on the Mac

Folders could also be a useful way to hide those apps that are already in the Dock, like Safari, Mail and so on.

Delete apps in Launchpad

In theory, apps can be deleted from launchpad and the method is like iOS. Click and hold until the apps start wobbling and a cross appears in the corner. Click it to delete it. Not all apps can be deleted this way though. Some do not have the cross icon.

Delete apps in Launchpad on the Mac

Launchpad can show icons for apps that have been deleted and it can become out of sync with what is actually in the Applications folder on the disk drive. Look at Cobook in the screen shot above. It has a faint question mark over the icon (it is hard to see, but look closely). The app was deleted from the Applications folder, but the icon remains in Launchpad. These rogue icons should be deleted because they have no use.



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