Favorite Apps #1: App Launchers (Linux, Windows, Android)

(Most of my tasks for this month are done, so I decided to start a post about my favorite apps, as I’ve mentioned on my previous post. )

When I’m using an operating system, customizability and user control is very important. If I’m not satisfied with something, I should be able to tweak or change it to my liking.

Since junior high, I have been searching the internet for apps that would do better than the apps that I’ve been using, although the apps in question are working great. I think I’ve been trying 20 music players for Windows until I found the right one.

For me, a great app should be 1) small in size, 2) has low memory usage, 3) looks nice and uncluttered, 4) simple enough to use without consulting its help file, and 5) customizable.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite app launchers for Linux, Windows, and Android.

It’s hard to work on Ubuntu without using Synapse. Synapse is a keyboard-based app launcher that you can open quickly with a shortcut (mine is CTRL + Space) to open any apps, files, and folders just by typing their names and press enter. It’s faster than clicking on shortcuts or digging through the menus.



Screenshot from 2013-05-26 07-04-37. - CopyFor a more traditional, start menu-like app launcher, I think that Whisker Menu, Xfce’s default app menu, is good enough. It doesn’t have anything that sets it apart from other app menus (save for the interface), but I have nothing to complain about it.


I also use two launchers on Windows. I have replaced my start menu with Classic Shell. At first I downloaded it only because I like the boxy, Modern UI-like look, but then I stick with it because it has more customizability options, like changing the start button, the start menu style (I prefer Windows XP), and the ability to reorganize the menu’s items.



I use the other launcher, SyMenu, to access my pretty huge collection of portable apps. SyMenu hosts shortcuts to apps, files, folders, and URLs that you can organize in folders. It can also be used as a start menu replacement.


(Although a majority of my portable apps came from PortableApps.com, I don’t use their launcher, since it can’t be started from system tray.)

UPDATE 23/3/15: I have just re-discovered the Windows version of Launchy, a keyboard-based app launcher. It’s very similar to Synapse, but with a little more customizability options (adding your own directory and use custom skins). To my surprise, it doesn’t use a lot of memory when running (about 12-13 MB).


It now has the privilege of being one of my few startup apps 🙂

Besides SquareHome.Phone, I use Lightning Launcher as an alternative launcher on Android. It’s small, fast (less than 1 MB!), and almost every part of it could be customized to your liking. You can have an unlimited number of homescreens (both horizontal and vertical), rotate and resize icons and widgets, hide apps from the drawer, manually set custom icons or use an icon pack, use different fonts from a .ttf file, use gestures, and much more.

Lightning Launcher has no default look, so here are 4 homescreen layouts I have made on Lightning when I’m in the ‘modifying my homescreen every week’ phase.




So these are the app launchers I use on all three of my operating systems. You might found them useful.


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