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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

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Add an app launcher to your Mac

The Apple Mac is unique in the way that it handles applications that are installed on the hard disk drive and while other operating systems have menus, the Mac does not. A small number of apps are on the Dock at the bottom of the screen, but unless you have a 27in iMac, it's not big enough to fit more than about 20. You could quite easily have double that number installed.

In order to run other apps you must hunt for them in the Applications folder using Finder. This isn't very satisfactory. Fortunately, there are alternative program launchers that enable you to access your apps more easily. One of these is aLaunch and it's free.

Download and run aLaunch and it will add an icon to the right-hand side of the menu bar. Click it and a menu drops down. Initially this will contain very little, but it is customisable and you can build your own menus to access your favourite apps.

aLaunch for OS XClick the icon to display the menu and select Preferences, then click the Item List icon. There are two lists and the left-hand one enables you to create top level menus for groups of apps. For example, you could create one for internet apps, one for games, one for graphics and so on. Click the plus button below the left-hand list to create the menu group.

Select a menu group in the left list and you can add the apps to the right-hand list. Just click the plus button below the right list and add an app. If you find it easier you can open a Finder window and drag apps from the Applications folder and drop them on the right-hand list.

When you have finished you'll have something like the screen shot here. Your apps are now on a drop-down menu from the menu bar. It is a bit Windows-like, but when you have a lot of apps, this is actually quite a good way of accessing them.

There are some configuration options and you can set the size of the icons for example. Large ones are shown in the screen shot, but you can choose smaller ones if you prefer. It remembers recently run apps and there are some other useful settings. For a free app it is pretty good and wel worth trying.

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