There are oodles of ways to launch Mac apps. You can double-click an app in the Applications folder, click an app icon in the Dock, invoke Launchpad and click the desired app, or choose an app from the Apple menuâ€™s Recent Items > Applications submenu. You can even add commonly used apps to the toolbar of Finder windows by Command-dragging them up there.
But what if you donâ€™t want to take your hands off the keyboard? Is there any way to open an app without touching the mouse or trackpad? Indeed there is, courtesy of Spotlight. No longer must we live like savages.
Youâ€™re probably familiar with Spotlight as a search tool, both for finding files and folders on your Mac, and for ferreting out information on the Internet, including weather forecasts, sports scores, and stock prices. But what you may not realize is that among the files that Spotlight can find are all the apps on your Mac, and you can launch them with just a few keys. Follow these steps:
- Press Command-Space to display the Spotlight window.
- Begin typing an appâ€™s name, such as â€œacâ€ for Activity Monitor. For apps whose names have multiple words, you can type the first letter of each, as in â€œicâ€ for Image Capture. And if an app name is a single InterCapped word, itâ€™s fine to enter just the capitalized letters, as in â€œftâ€ for FaceTime. Spotlight searches, and while it should be nearly instantaneous, if it doesnâ€™t show the app you want at first, give it a few seconds.
- If Spotlight highlights the app you want to launchÂ as the top hit, press Return to open it. If itâ€™s not the top hit, you can either continue typing to narrow the search or arrow down to it in the listÂ and then press Return.
Thatâ€™s all there is to it! As you might guess, you can use the same technique to open documents or even system preferences panes.
Cleverly, Spotlight is adaptive, so if the first time you type â€œacâ€ it suggests Adobe Content Viewer, once you select Activity Monitor instead, it will know that â€œacâ€ should open Activity Monitor in the future.
On the downside, Spotlight isnâ€™t always as fast as you might like, and while it guesses relatively well, you may find that its conception of what an app is called doesnâ€™t always match with what you want to type.
Give Spotlight a try!