Tips: LaunchBar

Hey All,

I know @JMichaelTX will scold me for not posting publicly, but there are other topics about how KM plays with LB and similar, and I don’t want to post another one. I’ve just started using LB in the last ~week and am loving it. The instant send is a killer feature and has replaced all of my “Open with X App” KM macros. I love the way it integrates with OmniFocus and Fantastical.


I won’t “scold” you – don’t think I’ve ever done that.
But, yes, I will encourage you to post questions like this in the public “Questions…” Category.

We recently had an in-depth discussion about where to post automation questions/topics that don’t directly relate to KM. @peternlewis’s guidance was:

  1. First, probably best to post in the forum of the product.
  2. But it’s OK to post here. Use the “Questions…” Category (NOT the new “Outback Lounge”.

Having said all that, I am very interested in LaunchBar, and in your question.
I’m pretty sure there are other KM forum members not in this PM that use LB, and would be interested and could contribute. @ccstone is one that comes to mind. :smile:

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I know, I’m just teasing.

I didn’t post it publicly because while LB is tangentially related to KM, I didn’t think opening a new topic asking about how folks use LB with KM was appropriate, and I’m not really looking for KM+LB tips, just LB.

I did forget about @ccstone, I will ping him. I was just going through the LB-respondents to my “Keeping scripts in sync” topic.

Well done :wink:

It’s not only for opening docs with a specified app. The Instant Send is really a core part of most things you can do with LB.

Probably Yes. It depends of if you have skimmed through the LB Help :wink:

In case you didn’t, this is another, not so obvious, example of an killer feature, for me. But, just go through the LB Help to discover a shitload of useful things.

However, the most “killer feature” for me is LB’s Abbreviations, as I tried to describe here and there: It may take some time until you realize how useful LB’s abbreviations really are (as opposed to “traditional” hotkeys). But once you’ve got it, you’ll have a complete new universe (aka namespace) of how to launch your scripts, actions, docs, apps, snippets, etc. – Coexisting with your established hotkey triggers from whatever app, of course.

Hey Christian,

There are so many

Pop-open LaunchBar and hit “d” to go to the Desktop — then type to filter items on the Desktop.

Pop-open LaunchBar and select an app — then Option-Right-Arrow into the app to discover hidden files in it — including the version number.

Continue inside the app to the Info.plist file and Right-Arrow into it — to see structured XML nodes.

Pop-open LaunchBar — select an app like BBEdit or TextWrangler and hit the Spacebar — to bring up a recent documents list.

Create a “Working Items” folder in the Finder — index it with LaunchBar — give it an abbreviation like “wk”. Then you can type “wk” in LB then Spacebar to access all your working items.

I have working, pending, and action folders.

I also have my code library folder indexed, so I can find things quickly.

I use LaunchBar’s calculator regularly and only fire up Soulver or Excel when I have something really complex to compute.

There’s sooo much more…

Take Care,


Yeah, really great examples :blush:

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Yes, I’ve seen. I love the way I can highlight any text and send it to OmniFocus, and the note attached is a link to the email/page I sent it from. That’s awesome. It’s an OmniFocus service but it’s a great way to access it.[quote=“Tom, post:5, topic:6643”]
Probably Yes. It depends of if you have skimmed through the LB Help :wink:

Yes I am slowly reading through that.

I’ve installed and uninstalled LB a few times before this installation stuck. Combined with realizing (with your help) that LB is not a spotlight replacement. The abbreviations let me do things I used to do with spotlight, ie:

“kff” text expansion for "kind:folder " to allow searching for specifically folders, I now have an abbreviation “kff” that specifies the Folders Category. So now I can type “kff space searchterm” just like I used to.

The abbreviations have also FIXED problems for me, alleviating macro trigger conflicts in several areas.

That’s great![quote=“ccstone, post:6, topic:6643”]
I use LaunchBar’s calculator regularly and only fire up Soulver or Excel when I have something really complex to compute.

Yes, very useful. I still haven’t learned to tap = first, but beyond that I prefer it’s readability to Spotlight’s calculator.

Thank you!

Just in case you haven’t already discovered, there are options:

Yes that’s where I enabled the = switch. Thank you :slight_smile:

That reminds me, I like that the calculator remembers the last calculation. Moreover, I like how LB remembers the last everything.

Al…right. I had interpreted your post as if you were saying that you had difficulties to learn the = key. That made me think that you maybe aren’t aware of the other options to invoke the calculator.

I don’t like having “=” as part of a keyboard shortcut in LaunchBar. It interferes with too many other things on my system.

I have my prefs set so I have to bring up LaunchBar Spacebar and then hit = to access the Calculator.

I do the same with the Clipboard History:

Spacebar and then hit K to access the Calculator.

Changing to this two-level access method has saved me much annoyance over the years.


Sorry if I wasn't clear, that's how I have it set, too.

I disliked "Switch to Calculator when typing digits" because I have many files labeled with dates then descriptions. (bills, schedules, etc.)

I had the clipboard history disabled but will reenable it now and see if I can find good use for it.

@cfriend, again, no “scolding”, not now, not ever.
But I did just move your PM to a public topic, in the"Tips & Tutorials" Category.

I hope this is OK with you. There is a lot of great stuff already in this topic that many can benefit from, and contribute to. Plus, it is not really searchable as a PM.


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Thanks for this thread (and others regarding LB). With you guys’ influence I’ve switched back to LB from Alfred. One annoyance. The first time I open LB after the machine boots (MBA 10.12.3) LB sits unresponsive for 30-60 seconds. I’m guessing it is something to do with index updating, but haven’t found a root cause yet.

I’m observing the same behavior since Sierra.
There’a also a thread on the LB forum.

I could reduce the delay from approx. 15s to 8 or 10s by generously slimming my index.

However, I never had a similar delay before Sierra, no matter how many items were indexed.

Hey Ed,

Turn on this setting, so you can see what's happening.

I believe the keyboard shortcut is Cmd-Opt-P.

LaunchBar has a lot of stuff to index, so it takes a bit after it starts up to finish.


Hi Chris,

I also think, it’s the indexing (since – in my case – reducing the index also reduced the unresponsive time), but the odd thing is:

  • Normally, when LB is updating its index, the window is not unresponsive
  • It only happens when I invoke the LB window for the first time after a system reboot. It doesn’t matter if this is immediately after booting or 10 minutes after booting. (So there is enough time for LB to do its necessary stuff.)
  • Never seen this before Sierra

My – uneducated – guess is: After booting, LB is trying to do the same it did in pre-Sierra, but some change in Sierra doesn’t allow it to do it unless brought to the foreground.

In case you are running Sierra: Are you not experiencing that delay?