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Take Control of LaunchBar

De
127 pages

Let LaunchBar's superpowers save you from Mac drudgery!

Updated October 6, 2014

Learn how to use LaunchBar, from Objective Development, to carry out nearly any Mac task more efficiently. To help you develop a mental map of all that LaunchBar can do, author Kirk McElhearn explains LaunchBar in the context of its six superpowers -- key LaunchBar techniques that no Mac user should be without.

  1. Abbreviation search. The primary way you select things in LaunchBar is by typing a few letters associated with the item you want to find. LaunchBar is smart (so the abbreviation doesn't have to be obvious) and learns from what you type (in case it guessed wrong the first time).

  2. Browsing. Sometimes you don't know what you want until you see it. You can browse folders, recent documents for an app, clipboard history, snippets, tags, and more.

  3. Sub-search. Too many results in a list to browse? Try a sub-search, which is an abbreviation search limited to a list of search results.

  4. Send To. Want to open a PDF in PDFpen rather than Preview? Attach a document to a new email message? Tag a file? Skype a contact? You can send anything on LaunchBar's bar to another app, folder, action, or service.

  5. Instant Send. Instant Send is the fastest way to put a selected file or bit of text on the bar, ready to open in another app, move to a folder, send to a Google search, calculate a result, look up in Dictionary, and more.

  6. Staging. New in LaunchBar 6.1, staging lets you select and work on multiple items at once in LaunchBar, even if they are not located in the same LaunchBar results list. Once selected, you could select a group of files and then move them all to a different folder, tag each one, or send them as email attachments.

Don't worry about remembering all this -- a will jog your memory until LaunchBar has worked its way into your fingertips.

Consider two examples:

Example 1: The most beloved LaunchBar function is to access apps quickly -- especially apps that you don't keep in the Dock. Just invoke LaunchBar (with a keyboard shortcut of your choosing), type a quick abbreviation -- whatever seems natural to you -- and press Return (or, take the express route with LaunchBar's handy Instant Open.) LaunchBar doesn't require predefined abbreviations; instead, it adapts to you! This method of accessing an app uses the Abbreviation Search, superpower #1.

Example 2: Once you've become accustomed to the ease of accessing any app, you can apply abbreviation search to other tasks and begin to unleash more superpowers. One example is to employ superpower #5, Instant Send, to add a book to iBooks: select an EPUB file (like Take Control of LaunchBar!) in the Finder, hold down the key you use to invoke LaunchBar for an extra second to select the file on the bar, type IB to select iBooks, and press Return to send the EPUB file to iBooks.

We could go on forever with our favorite examples: pasting the third item back from the clipboard history, moving a file into a deeply nested folder, creating calendar events and reminders, skipping to the next track in iTunes, running Terminal commands, looking up terms in Wikipedia, counting the characters in selected text, typing emoji, tweeting a quote from an article, finding your uncle's phone number, and so on.

To learn how do all this, and more, read the ebook!


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EBOOK EXTRAS: v1.0 Downloads, Updates, Feedback
TAKE CONTROL OF LAUNCHBAR
byKIRK McELHEARN $10
Table of Contents
Read Me First ............................................................... 4Updates & More ............................................................. 5Basics ......................................................................... 5Introduction ................................................................. 7LaunchBar Quick Start ................................................. 9Meet LaunchBar ......................................................... 11Install LaunchBar ......................................................... 11Launch LaunchBar ........................................................ 12Invoke LaunchBar ........................................................ 13Two Menus ................................................................. 16Five Superpowers......................................................... 181,000 Things to Do ....................................................... 21Tweak the Interface ...................................................... 23Launch at Login ........................................................... 25Work with Applications .............................................. 26Abbreviation Search ..................................................... 26Browsing .................................................................... 31Sub-search ................................................................. 39Send To ..................................................................... 41Instant Send ............................................................... 42Switching Applications ................................................... 44Browse & Search the Web .......................................... 46Open Web Sites ........................................................... 46Access Bookmarks & History........................................... 48Search the Internet ...................................................... 50Save Time with Clipboard History .............................. 57Power Up Your Clipboard................................................ 57Access Clipboard History ................................................ 58Append a Clipboard Item with ClipMerge ........................... 60Type Less with Snippets ............................................. 62Create Snippets ........................................................... 62
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Put Placeholders in Snippets ........................................... 64Edit & Delete Snippets................................................... 65Use Snippets ............................................................... 65Work with Contacts, Calendars & Reminders ............. 67Work with Contacts ...................................................... 67Create Calendar Events ................................................. 70Make Reminders .......................................................... 72Calculate Quickly ........................................................ 73Invoke the Calculator .................................................... 73Perform Calculations ..................................................... 74Control iTunes ............................................................ 77Browse Your iTunes Library............................................. 77Control iTunes Playback ................................................. 80Quickly Search the iTunes Store ...................................... 81Do Amazing Things with Files & Folders .................... 82Select Files & Folders .................................................... 82Manipulate Files & Folders .............................................. 85Use Terminal with LaunchBar .......................................... 92Master Actions, Services & Workflows ....................... 94First, Some Terminology ................................................ 94Use Actions ................................................................. 95Use Services ............................................................... 97Use LaunchBar-Automator Workflows ............................... 99Customize LaunchBar ............................................... 102Set LaunchBar Preferences ........................................... 102Control the Index ....................................................... 111Copy LaunchBar Settings to Another Mac ......................... 121Cheat Sheet .............................................................. 122About This Book ....................................................... 123Ebook Extras ............................................................. 123About the Author ........................................................ 124About the Publisher..................................................... 125Copyright & Fine Print .............................................. 126Featured Titles ......................................................... 127
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Read Me First
Welcome toTake Control of LaunchBar,version 1.0.1, published in July 2013 by TidBITS Publishing Inc. This book was written by Kirk McElhearn and edited by Tonya Engst.
LaunchBar 5 streamlines the way you access apps, open files, browse your file system, use the Web, copy and paste, insert text, access data from certain applications, run calculations, control iTunes, handle file management, control your Mac, and more. This book explains LaunchBars five superpowers and teaches you how to work faster and more efficiently on your Mac.
If you want to share this ebook with a friend, we ask that you do so as you would with a physical book: “lend” it for a quick look, but ask your friend to buy a copy for careful reading or reference. Discounted classroom and Mac user group copiesare available.
Copyright © 2013,Eyes of the World Limited. All rights reserved.
Sponsored by Objective Development This book was sponsored by Objective Development. Deep thanks go to Norbert Heger, Johannes Tiefenbrunner, Manfred Linzner, and Christian Ludl who took the time to explain more features in LaunchBar than wed previously imagined existed.
(Tip: All four names in the above paragraph were pasted in with amazing efficiency via LaunchBars ClipMerge!)
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Updates & More
You can access extras related to this ebook on the Web (use the link inEbook Extras, near the end; it’s available only to purchasers). On the ebook’s Take Control Extras page, you can:
Download any available new version of the ebook for free, or buy any subsequent edition at a discount.
Download various formats, including PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket. (Learn about reading this ebook on mobile devices on ourdevice advice page.)
Read postings to the ebook’s blog. These may include new tips or information, as well as links to author interviews. At the top of the blog, you can also see any update plans for the ebook.
If you bought this ebook from the Take Control Web site, it has been added to your account, where you can download it in other formats and access any future updates. However, if you bought this ebook elsewhere, you can add it to your account manually; seeEbook Extras.
Basics
Here are a few rules of the road that will help you read this ebook:
Links:All blue text in this ebook ishot,meaning you can click (or tap) it, just like a link on the Web. If you click a link to switch to a different part of the ebook, you can return quickly to where you were if your ebook reader offers a “back” feature. For example, if you use iBooks in iOS to read the EPUB of this ebook, you can tap the “Back to” link at the lower left of the screen. Or, if you use Preview on the Mac to read the PDF of this ebook, you can choose Go > Back or press Command-[.
Menus:Where I describe choosing a command from a menu, I use an abbreviated description that puts the name of the menu ahead of
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the command. For example, at the end of the previous paragraph, “Go > Back” means “choose the Back command from the Go menu.”
Contextual menus:To describe opening a contextual menu, I usually tell you to Control-click an item on the screen, such as a file icon in the Finder. If your mouse offers a right-click option, or if you use a trackpad or other means of opening a contextual menu, you should feel free to use the method you prefer.
Arrow:I use the word “arrow” as a verb often in this book. I use it in place of saying “press the right-arrow key” or “press the down arrow key,” saying instead, “arrow right,” or “arrow down.” The text is more elegant this way, I think.
Typing in LaunchBar:I give many examples of letters you type in LaunchBar when searching. In order to show that they are letters you type, I put them in capital letters, such as SAF to launch Safari. You don’t need to type capitals, though; LaunchBar doesn’t distinguish between upper- and lowercase. By the way, you don’t have to use my suggestions for abbreviations. You could type SF, SFR, or SFI for Safari, and LaunchBar will learn from that abbreviation, and know thatyoumean Safari.
Here’s a taste of a few important LaunchBar terms:
Invoke:Once LaunchBar is launched on your computer, in order to display itsbar—the small window that slides down from below your menu bar—youinvokeit with a keyboard shortcut. The bar is where you work with LaunchBar. I explain this important aspect of LaunchBar inInvoke LaunchBar.
Index:LaunchBar knows a great deal about what’s stored on your Mac because it creates its own index of these items. I touch lightly on this concept inLaunchBar’s Secret Sauce: The Adaptive Abbreviation Search Algorithmand look at it more fully inControl the Index.
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Introduction
I’ve been using LaunchBar for nearly as long as it has been around on the Mac. It’s the first utility that I install on every new Mac; with LaunchBar installed, I can get on with everything else I need to do.
In my 2010Macworld review, LaunchBar 5 became one of the few apps to which I’ve given the highest rating (5 mice). Previous Macworld reviewers (including this book’s technical editor in 2005) have also given LaunchBar a 5-mouse rating. Macworld editor Jason Snell said, in his 5-mouse review of LaunchBar 4 in 2007, “When I use a Mac that doesn’t have LaunchBar running, I simply feel naked.” And Take Control publisher Adam Engst has happily admitted to being “utterly addicted” to LaunchBar since 2003, saying “LaunchBar has worked its way into my neurons, and I’m all the more productive because of it.”
What’s the big deal? Why does this software elicit such fervent praise? LaunchBar is all about saving time by keeping your hands on your keyboard, as you can see in the following scenarios.
Launching an application:
Without LaunchBar:You switch to the Finder, click Applications in the Finder window sidebar, and scroll to find the app’s icon. You then double-click that icon. You could, of course, have the icon in the Dock and do this with a single click, but if it’s an app you use infrequently, you might not want to clutter the Dock with it.
With LaunchBar:You press Command-Space, type a few letters from the app’s name, and press Return.
Opening a file that you’ve edited recently in Pages:
Without LaunchBar:You click the Pages icon in the Dock, and then navigate to the document from the Open dialog or choose File > Open Recent and select a file. Or you browse in the Finder for the document, potentially clicking through several folders before you find the icon and double-click it.
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With LaunchBar:You type PAG, and Pages appears in the bar. You press the right-arrow key to see recently used documents, arrow down to find the one you want, and then press Return to open it.
In both cases, LaunchBar provides quick access to applications and files. What’s more, LaunchBar learns from the abbreviations you type, so rather than forcing you to use its conventions, it adopts yours. The more you use LaunchBar, the better it understands what you want.
If this was all LaunchBar could do, it would be a useful, yet limited application. The app’s name tells you that it can launch items, but LaunchBar does much more, as its slogan suggests: “1000+ Features, 1 Interface.” With the help of LaunchBar’s slim bar, you can attach files to new email messages, search your contacts, keep and access a clipboard history, insert snippets of canned text, run Terminal commands, and more—all from just the keyboard.
And LaunchBar has superpowers. It won’t give you the power to cloud men’s minds or climb the sides of buildings, but it will turn you into a Mac superhero. Anyone can master LaunchBar’s basic uses: launching applications, opening files, searching the Web, and more. But this book will teach you the five LaunchBar superpowers so you can work far more efficiently on your Mac.
A Bit of History LaunchBar was developed by Norbert Heger for NEXTSTEP back in 1995, as a series of scripts to open applications or documents. The basic idea—typing an abbreviation to open an item, with LaunchBar learning from the abbreviations typed—was the linchpin of LaunchBar from the beginning. Objective Development released a public version of the program in 1996, and ported it to Mac OS X in 2001.
For more about LaunchBar’s history and world view, read the 2003interview with Norbert Heger, on the O’Reilly Web site.
Tip:Objective Development released LaunchBar 5.5 shortly beforethis ebook was published, so if you’ve had LaunchBar installed fora long time, make sure to update in order to access all the featuresI describe.
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LaunchBar Quick Start
This book has a normal table of contents, so you can scan that to see what topics are covered and jump to any topic from there. However, you may find it helpful to approach the ebook not linearly, but based on your situation. Here are some ideas for avenues of approach to the content in this book.
You want a quick summary: Download the cheat sheet. Put it on another device or in another window while you read this book, or print it out. You can also find theCheat Sheetat the back of this book.
You’re new to LaunchBar—or want to review the basics: Start withMeet LaunchBar. This chapter introduces the LaunchBar interface and the five superpowers, and walks you through a few preferences that you should configure right away.
Get initiated with superpower #1 inAbbreviation Search.
Next, see common uses of LaunchBar as you learn the remaining four superpowers:Browsing,Sub-search,Send To, andInstant Send.
Continue with the rest of the book, reading topics that interest you. Once you’ve gained some experience, read the last chapter, Customize LaunchBar, to fine-tune LaunchBar.
You’re somewhat experienced with LaunchBar: Read about superpowers #4 and #5 inSend ToandInstant Send.
Find out how toUse Actionsto control your Mac, and how toUse Servicesto access the features of one app from within a different app.
Learn how to copy and paste multiple items inSave Time with Clipboard History.
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Absolutely readCustomize LaunchBar. Make sure the preferences are right way for you, and thenControl the Indexto ensure that you can find what you want in LaunchBar.
Go further withDo Amazing Things with Files & Folders. Even experienced LaunchBar users may not know all the ways they can manipulate and act on items.
Consider learning how to do these tasks from the bar:Search the Internet,Control iTunes,Work with Contacts, Calendars & RemindersandCalculate Quickly. Consult the table of contents or the list at the end of1,000 Things to Dofor more that you can do.
You want to learn what’s new in LaunchBar 5.5: Type Less with Snippetscovers the new text-insertion feature.
LaunchBar has added a number of actions that work with Apple’s Automator, which you can use to send the results of workflows to LaunchBar.Use LaunchBar-Automator Workflowsdiscusses this.
LaunchBar 5.5 has many small enhancements that I don’t call out in the text, but which make the program more powerful than ever. You can review them in Objective Development’sRelease Notes.
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