David Yeh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
X-Launch is a small launcher intended to be a "Better Apple Launcher". It occupies less desktop space than Launcher, has more customizable preferences, and includes the ability to reorder buttons, navigate folder contents via contextual menu, and bring the launch window to the front via a hot corner. Its main disadvantages include truncated icon names (and no icon names in small icon mode), inability to resize the window, limited number of icons (20), and inability to create "sub-launchers" and categories via the bulleted-folder trick.
MacOS 7.5.3 or higher
NOTE: With 7.x, the following need to be in your Extensions
Finder Scripting Extension
Scripting Additions (folder)
X-Launch is a single application file, and can be placed anywhere. It creates two items in the Preferences folder upon first use, a X-Launch Preferences file and a X-Launch Items folder (analogous to Launcher's Launcher Items folder in the System folder).
Usage is very much like Launcher, so there will be no surprises. Note: whenever I say "gray strip", I really mean "gray strip or anywhere else in the window that is not a button", but since there is really not that much space elsewhere, the gray strip is usually the easiest target.
X-Launch creates a button for every item in the X-Launch Items folder, which may be files, folders, aliases, etc. You can either add the items directly to the X-Launch Items folder, in which case you will have to manually update the X-Launch window afterwards (see below), or you can drag and drop items onto the gray strip, which will add an alias to the item(s) to the X-Launch Items folder and perform an automatic update. There is a limit of 20 buttons.
Click them. If you down-click and then change your mind, just move the mouse off the button and it will "unclick".
Control-clicking a button (or click-and-hold if you have FinderPop) will bring up a contextual menu, which will allow you to open that item (the same as clicking it), view the original item represented by the button, or, in the case of a folder, navigate the contents of that folder 3 levels deep.
NOTE: The building of the hierarchical folder menus is not particularly efficient, and may be slow for folders with many items; this will hopefully be improved in a future version.
*Drag and Drop:
You can drag and drop icons from the Finder onto the buttons, and it will behave exactly as the Finder behaves.
Dragging a button is accomplished by command-click-drag or option-click-drag (command-click-drag only in MacOS 7.x); the only difference between the two is in dragging a button to the Finder (see below). You can only drag one button at a time.
Reordering buttons: Drag a button and drop it between the two buttons where you want it to be inserted.
Removing buttons: Again, you can either remove icons directly from the X-Launch Items folder (and then manually update), or by dragging a button to the Trash, which will be followed by an automatic update (there is often delayed response, so please be patient).
Dragging buttons to the Finder: Again, it should behave exactly like dragging icons within the Finder behaves. Just remember when you drag a button, you are in effect dragging the corresponding icon inside the X-Launch Items folder. Also note that command-drag is the equivalent of a normal drag with no modifiers, while option-drag may have special meaning as it does in the Finder (e.g., option-dragging onto a folder copies the item to that folder).
Bringing X-Launch to the front:
You can make X-Launch the front window by moving your mouse to the hot corner set in the Preferences.
The gray bar also has a control-click contextual menu:
Sound Effects: that annoying click sound. The real feature here is the ability to turn it off.
Close Box: display a close box on the window bar. People who have "compulsive window-closing disorder"
may consider turning this off to avoid accidentally quitting X-Launch during a spasm of window-closing
activity and having to restart it (you can still quit via the menu bar).
Show Text: show the filename under the buttons. Only in large icon mode.
Background: X-Launch now comes in five exciting fruit flavors! And thousands more.
Icon Size: large or small.
Hot Corner: the corner that brings X-Launch to the front when the mouse is moved there.
Platinum Theme: an alternate set of buttons, with matching background color to complement your Platinum
Open X-Launch Items Folder: for easier accessibility to the X-Launch Items folder.
Update: to do a manual update, if you manually add/remove items to/from the X-Launch Items folder.
You can quit X-Launch by closing its window, or via the menu bar.
Q: When I switch resolutions, sometimes the X-Launch window moves, and does not move back when I switch back.
A: X-Launch uses a primitive mechanism to remember the window position which does not adjust well to resolution
changes; I note, with some degree of consolation, that Stickies has the same problem.
Q: I am using a pre-8.5 version of MacOS with Kaleidoscope,
and my icons show up in X-Launch as Platinum icons,
and not the ones I am using in my scheme.
A: Jim Walker's otherwise excellent Find_icon routines do not seem to handle Kaleidoscope icons very well; with OS 8.5, Apple's Icon Utilities are used, which do handle them. One way around this is to paste on a custom icon.
Q: I am using MacOS 7.x, and sometimes when I option-drag
an icon to the Finder, the Finder reports error -1701.
A: This is typically an indication that the item you are trying to copy already exists at the dropped location; the Finder ought to put up a more informative dialog, but there is a bug in how it handles items dropped from other applications (you may notice similar odd behaviour in other applications).
Q: Why the seemingly arbitrary and irrelevent Star Wars
A: Because I am a Star Wars fan! The program was orginally going to be called "The Phantom Launcher", but I decided it was a bit too Hollywood, and also made no sense.
Payment and Correspondence:
X-Launch is ForceWare. If you are on the Dark Side of the Force, you must have your hand chopped off before using this program. If you are on the Good Side of the Force, you must recite "You will be... you will be..." in your best Yoda voice. In either case, this program is free to use and distribute (please include this file). If X-Launch works well for you and you feel the generous compulsion to send a token of appreciation, you may "register" the product through Kagi at
for the suggested $5, or email me for other arrangements (complimentary registration for your own shareware product is always welcome). Contributions are entirely voluntary, however, and you can certainly use X-Launch for free.
If you have any problems, comments, or suggestions concerning X-Launch, you can email me at <email@example.com>, and I will try to address them promptly. Although I intend to keep X-Launch minimalist, if there is something you would find useful, chances are good that I would too. Future updates can be found at <http://www.med.virginia.edu/~dly8b/launch/>
Star Wars icons are made by and used with the permission of Talos Tsui from The Iconfactory (<http://www.iconfactory.com>). This product has no affiliation with the official Star Wars Industry.
Certain GUI elements were contributed by Mariel Manuel Lohninger, who maintains a collection of sound sets, desktop pictures, and other GUI enhancements at <http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/Strasse/8114/>.
-fixes for use with MacOS 7.x: "Show Original Item" in contextual menus now works, and option-dragging an icon to the Finder now properly copies instead of resulting in Finder error -1708
-default position of window now set relative to bottom of screen (instead of assuming everyone is on 800x600 mode... sorry about that)
-added ability to change hot corner in preferences
-added "Show Original Item" ability to contextual menus
-added optional "Platinum Theme", an alternate set of buttons and background color
-buttons now look presentable in 256 color mode
-fixed button-sometimes-stays-pressed problem
-fixed problem in which filenames with certain characters would not display properly in contextual menus
-it is now safe to put hard drives in the launcher (apparently the crashes were occuring due to an out-of-memory error);
building of hierarchical menus is still slow, however
-added 68k support
First public release
1.0-1.32: Internal use, never formally released
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