10 Windows Application Launchers compared and reviewed

In this article you’ll find brief reviews, screenshots and download locations for 10 4 different Windows application launchers.

Please note: This guide was published back in 2008 and since then a number of the original launchers have been discontinued. However, the following 4 still remain and have only gotten better in the meantime.


NamePriceRating (x/5)
Find and Run Robotfree****
True Launch Bar$19.90***

Find and Run Robot

Find And Run Robot (FARR) may not have the slick look (by default) of some of the other keystroke based application launchers, but it certainly doesn’t lack in features. And if there’s a feature not included by default, you can probably find an addon to include the missing functionality. FARR had a very small memory footprint in Vista – about 7MB. It indexes your files, bookmarks, folders, pictures and of course, applications. If you’re still using an older version of Windows you’re in luck – FARR works on Windows 9x, 2000, XP and Vista. A detailed (and always up to date) feature list for FARR can be found here. Like most of the DonationCoder.com software, FARR actually includes a list of its “competitors” in the help file, which isn’t something you see a lot of software packages include.

Default View

Launching an app

Advanced Visual Preferences

Search Behavior Preferences

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Launchy is an open source keystroke based application launcher. It was designed to work on Windows XP, but there’s a .dll file available to get it to work (probably) in Windows 2000. It also worked perfectly in Vista (from my experience). Launchy is probably the most popular of the Windows keystroke based application launchers, and for good reason. It’s stable, uses minimal system resources (about 10MB in Vista) and has an extensive list of features (for the full list see the Launchy Readme file). There are also a number of very useful Launchy plugins for extra features.

Launching an app

Search Google

General Preferences

Default Plugins

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SlickRun is a keystroke based application launcher. It resides just above the clock in your system tray (by default) and since it display the time and date when not being used, you can remove the time from your system tray to recover some space. Type help into SlickRun and you’re taken to the online help files, which are actually quite helpful. One of the neat features included in SlickRun is SlickJot – a place to store brief notes. You can add text to SlickJot by highlighting it and dragging it to the SlickRun window. You can also search through the clips using the built in find tool. Notes are automatically saved.

SlickRun has a very small memory footprint – only about 5MB at any given time. To add additional functionality to SlickRun you can install MagicWord Packs (found on the homepage in the MagicWord Packs section).

Default view and location

Search with Google

SlickJot feature

Right-click Menu

SlickRun Library

SlickRun Options

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True Launch Bar

True Launch Bar isn’t a keystroke based application launcher, rather, it’s a replacement for the Windows Quick Launch Toolbar. Think of it as the Quick Launch Toolbar on steroids. Though it isn’t free, there is a 30 day fully functional demo (though it has some annoying nag messages). Setting it up takes a bit of work – there are a lot of options and settings, and if you try to use the settings page to create new menus, it can be a bit confusing. True Launch Bar works with Windows 9x/ME/2000/NT4/XP/Vista.

QuickLaunch Replacement

Custom Launch Toolbar

Access TBL Settings

Right-click Menu

General Options

Menu Appearance w/ Preview

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Some other Windows application launchers that I didn’t include above are: keybreeze, Skylight, ObjectDock and RocketDock

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