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Give Your Mac A Productivity Power-Up With LaunchBar

Give Your Mac A Productivity Power-Up With LaunchBar

Launch

    Ever wish you could open up any file on your computer with just one key press? Well, if you have, you can store every file you have on your desktop. Instant access!

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    That was a joke, or course. If you’re an OS X user wanting a more elegant solution for getting to your stuff, LaunchBar proves to be the productivity-booster you’re looking for. LaunchBar is a ridiculously useful program program launcher for OS X that’s operated entirely with the keyboard. I’ve been using it on my Macbook Pro for several months now, and I honestly miss it whenever I switch to my Windows machine.

    Now, you might think that LaunchBar is useless because you’ve already got Spotlight. In truth, Spotlight works pretty well as a program launcher, and it’s free. However, LaunchBar is so much more robust and useful than Spotlight. Plus, the program gives you a 30-day period to evaluate it before buying – and you can still use it free after that period if you’re willing to deal with a purchase reminder.

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    LaunchBar takes keyboard shortcuts to the next level. With Spotlight, you search for the program you want and then hit enter. LaunchBar actually lets you launch a program by holding down the last letter you type. As a result, you can launch certain programs in one keystroke after opening the program (which you can do however you like; I’ve got mine bound to command+L). For example, you can launch Safari just by opening LaunchBar and holding “s” for a second, or launch Firefox by holding “f”. When I’m working on a lot of projects and am constantly switching to new spaces with other keyboard shortcuts, it’s really nice to be able to just launch the programs I need in this lightening-fast manner.

    Launching Safari
      Launching Safari

      Launching a different application from the list simply requires typing a few more characters to drill down to it, or using the arrow key to scroll down to it.

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      “Hi, Billy Mays Here for LaunchBar…”

      Finding and launching applications is really just the tip of the iceberg, however. LaunchBar’s real usefulness comes from its many other built-in functions. The amount of things the program can do is pretty staggering, actually. Here are just a few:

      • Find songs and play them in iTunes
      • Create events in iCal
      • Perform mathematical calculations
      • View contacts from your Address Book
      • Search through your internet browsing history, and open specific web pages
      • Browse through your file structure just like Finder
      • Search Google
      • Perform file operations such as moving or renaming

      An additional (awesome) feature is the ability to show a preview of your selection when you hit the space bar. I really like using this for pictures. In fact, if you have a folder with many pictures, using this feature turns LaunchBar into a pretty nice photo viewer. Just use the arrow keys to scroll through pictures.

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      Launching a song in iTunes from LaunchBar
        Launching a song in iTunes from LaunchBar

        Though I’m pretty objective when I review programs, the only real fault I could find with LaunchBar is the fact that it costs money. People who just want a quick way to launch applications and browse for files will be absolutely fine using Spotlight. However, for the power users out there, LaunchBar is a productivity-boosting powerhouse of an app.

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        Last Updated on May 14, 2019

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

        1. Zoho Notebook
          If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
        2. Evernote
          The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
        3. Net Notes
          If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
        4. i-Lighter
          You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
        5. Clipmarks
          For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
        6. UberNote
          If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
        7. iLeonardo
          iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
        8. Zotero
          Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

        I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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        In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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