Like me you may have tried out various application (and/or file) launchers now and then and possibly none have grabbed you enough to make them a regular part of your Mac life, what with their sometime idiosyncratic design philosophy and all.

If have somehow missed out on the whole launcher family of apps; if you, as many people do, travel from your hard drive icon, to applications, to scroll down, to double click, to open application – then you are probably wondering what on earth is the point of another application just to do that. Surely for such a simple task, adding intermediate steps must make it all much more complicated? Well, possibly to start with, but not after a little practice, and there is a sweet smooth swiftness to knowing your machine well enough to be able to launch any application in a second or two with a couple of key strokes. It’s a control thing. It’s a delight thing.

The mother of all launchers, the UberLauncher, is Quicksilver. Quicksilver quite rightly gets a lot of press. It was amazing the last time I tried it and I’m just about to give it another go after rediscovering it via Quicksilver: The Guide.

Searching and launching applications is however the very tip of Quicksilver’s considerable, iceberg like abilities and for me this depth and ability was, and possibly will be again, just too much. Quicksilver is a whole world and needs time and effort to explore and appreciate. So many worlds, so little time.

My own road to regularly using an application launcher has been patchy and inconsistent. Or, I would argue, I’m picky and like to test choices out thoroughly before settling on just one. I won’t list out the choices, but, for now at least, I have settled on one: Sapiens.

Sapiens has only the basic application launcher functionality of the heavyweights in its field but has a visual simplicity which defies it’s underlying basic intelligence. Sapiens sometime idiosyncratic design philosophy is a radial one – a radial look and a supposedly radial launch facility via circular mouse gesturing. More about that later.

The radial look is very nice. Sapiens can mirror your desktop through the interface, or not, and lays out your 13 most commonly used applications in sensible groups. If an application is already open then, of course, it doesn’t show up in the Sapiens interface, the next most regularly used application takes it’s place. The search is adaptive via the ‘Brain’ and Sapiens will learn which applications are your favourites; favourites get a more prominent placement; ah, twas ever thus.


The search is also user adaptable via a right click where you can either increase or decrease an application’s importance or even tell Sapiens to forget about it completely. There is a simple but complete Tools menu which does everything you may need behind the scenes and five different gui layouts to choose from.

Enter will launch a centrally placed application from Sapiens, so that in theory one circular mouse gesture and one click will launch your most used application. Now it may work for you but I found this circular mouse gesture just isn’t available in my muscle memory so I have opted to open Sapiens via a double shift-click, an option available from the Tools menu; no problemo then, three clicks not two, not too shabby.

If the application you want isn’t visible when Sapiens opens, if it isn’t one of the applications you use very often, then just start typing its name with the Sapiens interface open and Sapiens will search for it, exactly like Spotlight. Once you see the icon pop up in Sapiens you’re off.

Prior to Sapiens I was used to using Spotlight via Cmd Spacebar to search for everything, but I love the focus of Sapiens. It launches applications – that’s it.

And this may be why my re-entry into the world of Quicksilver will fail once more.

So many worlds, so little time.