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Developer(s) Objective Development Software GmbH
Initial release 1996
Stable release
6.7 / June 13, 2016
Written in Objective-C
Operating system macOS
Available in English, German
Type Application launcher
License Proprietary

LaunchBar is an application launcher for macOS. It provides access to user's applications and files, by entering short abbreviations of the searched item's name. It uses an adaptive algorithm that 'learns' a user's preferred abbreviations for a particular application. For example, after training, Adobe Photoshop may be launched by simply typing 'pho' and Interface Builder can be opened by typing 'ib' even though that sequence of characters does not appear anywhere in the name of the application.

LaunchBar also provides capabilities beyond application launching, such as file management and piping the current selection to a command line utility, along with clipboard management and a built-in calculator.

LaunchBar is distributed as crippleware shareware - full usage of the application requires paying the registration fee, but up to 7 abbreviations may be used per session without paying anything.

According to user interface researcher Bruce Tognazzini, "LaunchBar should be able to outperform a visual interface for complex, repetitive switching sequences by an expert user"[1]


LaunchBar began as a series of shell scripts for the NeXTSTEP platform, then migrated to OPENSTEP where it was developed into a full-fledged application. It was ported to Mac OS X in 2001 as LaunchBar 3.

In 2005, Apple introduced Spotlight, which took over LaunchBar's default position at the top-right corner of the screen. In response, LaunchBar was changed to display its window at the center of the screen, below the menu bar.

11 June 2014 LaunchBar 6 was released, with a New User Interface with Themes, an Improved Configuration Interface, Additional Indexing Rules, Additional Built-in Actions, Live Web Searches and Usage Statistics.[2]

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