This is the fastest way to launch apps on your Mac

This is the fastest way to launch apps on your Mac

Photo: Krisda (Shutterstock)

Photo: Krisda (Shutterstock)

There are many ways to launch apps on your Mac – for starters, you can pin apps to the dock or use Spotlight to search for and open apps. However, there is an even faster way to launch apps: using a floating dock.

There are a couple of apps that let you quickly open a dock wherever the mouse pointer is. If you use a large screen or if you use the trackpad to navigate your MacBook, these floating dock apps will save you time using a keyboard shortcut to launch apps. You might appreciate this especially if you’re among the users who have complained about Spotlight search getting slower over time: even if you replace it with a better alternative, manually typing app names takes more time than using a floating dock- app.

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If this sounds appealing, try downloading Charmstone or Orbital. These apps have a similar feature set and are equally good at letting you launch apps quickly.


Screenshot: Pranay Parab

Screenshot: Pranay Parab

Charmstone is available on the Mac App Store, and the free version lets you attach up to four apps to your floating dock. You can unlock more slots (up to 16 apps) by paying a one-time fee of $10. Start the floating dock by typing Command + Option and moving the cursor in any direction. You don’t need to click again to launch apps. Move the cursor to the right and release it to launch the app pinned in that direction. Similarly, you can quickly launch apps that are pinned in any direction.

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You will only see eight apps when you first launch Charmstone because the app has two modes – near and far. Use the activation keyboard shortcut and move the cursor slightly to open the apps pinned to close mode. To see the remaining “remove” apps, use the key combination and drag the cursor a little further away.

You can also change the keyboard combination required to activate the app – any combination involving Command, Option, Shift, Function and Control, along with mouse pointer movement.


Screenshot: Pranay Parab

Screenshot: Pranay Parab

Orbital requires less configuration to be useful because it mimics your dock; it fetches the apps in your dock in the same order. For example, if you configure Orbital to display eight apps, it will select the first eight apps from your dock.

You can also launch Orbital a bit faster because it can be launched using a keyboard shortcut (Alt + X) and does not require you to move the mouse pointer. Orbital lets you pin up to six apps for free and costs around $12 to unlock all 20 tracks. You can also change the size of the icons.

Orbital isn’t as customizable as advanced users would like, but that’s also part of its appeal. It’s literally a floating dock, while Charmstone is more of a customizable app launcher. Since both apps have a decent free version available, you should try both before deciding which one works best for you.

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