Launchy 2.0 quick-starts apps with class

The endearing quick app-launcher Launchy gets a new look to top its growing capabilities for launching programs, browser bookmarks, and files.

Those already using Launchy, a completely unobtrusive and utterly invaluable quick-app launcher, swear by it. Now they'll just swear louder.

It's often hard to improve on a good thing, but developer Josh Karlin has tried, and his efforts with this freeware gift to society have largely paid off over the last few releases. Most of the heavier-duty programming upgrades occurred in release 1.2.5, and Karlin has capped them off with a glossy finish in version 2.0.--a new look based on a new set of standards.

The new Launchy sports a boxier look with greater support for skinning and customization. (Credit: CNET Networks)

Sure, there will be some who will prefer Launchy 1.0's slim rectangular face to the widgety number Karlin and friends have reworked using the Qt toolkit, but lucky for them, there are respectable skin selections in the options menu (that UFO-looking button,) including the classic Black Glass skin. You're also free to download more from the site, or create your own.

A new platform means a new configuration, so you'll have to completely uninstall Launchy before upgrading, and you'll need to choose your skins and options anew as well.

That's not all bad. As long as you're setting up the new Launchy, now's the time to familiarize yourself with its lesser-known features, like it's ability to search directory files and folders, making it invaluable for indexing and quick-launching everything you store on your computer.

Of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Launchy is also equipped with Web-smart plugins that snap open Wikipedia, Google, and a new e-mail composition, along with Firefox and Internet Explorer bookmarks. If you're not partial to the default search query, tweak it.

While Launchy has worked on Vista in previous iterations, support improves with this version.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.