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Review: Namely - Mac OS X Application Launcher

Namely is a powerful, free application launcher for Mac OS X, just like Quicksilver. Unlike Quicksilver, Namely is very simple, easy to use, and fast. Namely is freeware, not a resource hog, and comes in a variety of colors.

How it works:

It works like this: you type in a keyboard shortcut (The default shortcut is Option+Escape), the Namely window comes up on the top of the screen, under the menubar. You begin typing the name of the program you want to run. Namely looks in your computer for applications with the characters you type, and displays a list of those programs, starting with the closest match. You can use the Up or Down keys to navigate, or just keep typing. When you found the program you want, just hit Return. Namely disappears after starting up the program of your choice. Namely is easily customized. You can change the shortcut, have it start at startup, change the color and style, choose not to include Classic programs (for 10.3 Panther users), and a list of folders to drop from the choices. By default, Namely is set to search your entire Macintosh HD for applications. I suggest setting up this option only to include your /Applications folder. If you, like me, are a developer that uses Apple’s Xcode, or if you intend to use Dashcode in Leopard and they don’t put it in /Applications, don’t add /Developer to the list. The changes to the list take effect when you hit Command+R to rebuild the application list. Namely looks better than Quicksilver or Butler. It resembles Spotlight, and unlike the useful but slow search tool, you can customize it to your liking. Opening up the drop-down Color list in the preferences allows you to choose a color that fits your mood. Or you could just choose the blue or gray at the right to match your appearance setting (Aqua or Graphite). Under the dialog box, you can choose from a Matte or Glossy style. Blue and Matte looks like Spotlight in the Aqua appearance, while Purple and Glossy looks like the screenshot below. One more interesting feature about Namely before I move on. Namely “remembers” your most frequently used applications! For example, start typing Word. Let’s say you have both Microsoft’s giant and the small but full-featured open-source AbiWord ( word processor. Let’s say you use Microsoft Word more often. Instead of alphabetizing, requiring you to hit the Down key to get to Microsoft Word, Namely knows that you use Word more often and puts it at the top, saving you a few keystrokes.

Not Without Disadvantages...

Namely doesn’t come without its disadvantages, though. One of the biggest disadvantages is that here’s no option to hide the icon from the Dock. You’ll need a program such as the simple tool Dockless, which is available for free from, to hide the application icon. Also, there is no choice to not search subfolders—you need to add each subfolder to skip from the Ignore list. And if you run Java programs that end in .jar, forget about it. But Namely is still a powerful little application that will replace the clutter on your desk with just a few keystrokes. Conclusion: Namely is a great tool, and it would not make sense not to have it if you intend to become more productive. 4.5 out of 5 By pietro10