Macworld Masterclass: Get the most out of Launchpad

Launchpad is the one-stop shop for all your favourite apps in OS X Lion

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  • main Intro
  • launchpad01 Step 1: Making groups
  • launchpad02 Step 2: Renaming groups
  • launchpad03 Step 3: Expanding groups
  • launchpad04 Step 4: Deleting apps
  • launchpad05 Step 5: Get jiggy with it
  • launchpad06 Step 6: Edit icons
  • launchpad07 Step 7: Keyboard shortcuts
  • launchpad08 Step 8: Launching Launchpad
  • launchpad09 Step 9: Hot corners
  • launchpad10 Step 10: Finder in Launchpad
  • launchpad11 Step 11: Rebooting Launchpad 1
  • launchpad12 Step 12: Rebooting Launchpad 2
  • launchpad13 Step 13: Refresh contents
  • launchpad14 Step 14: Recreate the database
  • launchpad15 Step 15: Leaving Launchpad
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Intro

Launchpad is the new way to find and open your favourite apps in Lion. We say new, but iPad and iPhone users will already be familiar with it. Launchpad enables you to arrange the icons for programs that you use into a grid, then switch between them with a swipe, or flick of the mouse.

As in iOS, any programs you download from the Mac App Store are automatically added, so you’ll find them there first. However, it’s by no means a replacement for the Finder and the Dock. Instead, it enhances and subtly changes the way you navigate around your Mac.

Though the whole point of Launchpad is its simplicity, there are still a few tricks and tweaks we can show you to get the best from it.

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Next Prev main

Launchpad is the new way to find and open your favourite apps in Lion. We say new, but iPad and iPhone users will already be familiar with it. Launchpad enables you to arrange the icons for programs that you use into a grid, then switch between them with a swipe, or flick of the mouse.

As in iOS, any programs you download from the Mac App Store are automatically added, so you’ll find them there first. However, it’s by no means a replacement for the Finder and the Dock. Instead, it enhances and subtly changes the way you navigate around your Mac.

Though the whole point of Launchpad is its simplicity, there are still a few tricks and tweaks we can show you to get the best from it.

 

Step 2 of 16: Step 1: Making groups

You’ll notice applications that are in folders are already grouped together in Launchpad – Utilities come in one group, for example. You can quickly create your own groups by selecting an application icon and dragging it onto another. Lion will automatically create a new folder for you and name it.

 

Step 3 of 16: Step 2: Renaming groups

We created a group containing all our web browsers. Lion helpfully named it ‘Productivity’. Fortunately, once a group has been created, you can easily tweak and rename it. Just open the group, double-click on the name label and you can type in a name that’s more suitable straightaway.

 

Step 4 of 16: Step 3: Expanding groups

You can add more applications to a group you’ve created, just by dragging and dropping them into it. And if you want to remove an application from a group, all you have to do is select it and drag it out of the group back on to Launchpad. Very like folders in Finder, but easier.

 

Step 5 of 16: Step 4: Deleting apps

Macs once struggled with deleting applications. Not the case with Launchpad. As long as you purchased the program from the Mac App Store, it’s now as easy as removing apps from an iPad. Just click and hold any icon. When they start jiggling, the applications you can remove will have an ‘x’ in the corner.

 

Step 6 of 16: Step 5: Get jiggy with it

There’s a faster way to make your apps jiggle. On the screen where the apps you want to remove are hit Option. Again, the apps you can remove will sprout an ‘x’ in the top corner. When you delete them, it entirely removes them from your machine. The application and all its data – not just the icon.

 

Step 7 of 16: Step 6: Edit icons

You don’t need to go into ‘jiggle’ mode to move icons around. Just click and drag an icon to move it anywhere. You can even move icons to other screens by dragging to the edge of the current one. If you drag to the edge and there are no more screens, Launchpad will make a new empty screen for the icon.

 

Step 8 of 16: Step 7: Keyboard shortcuts

New Macs have a dedicated Launchpad key. Don’t be too envious though, as you can quickly set up your own. Open the Keyboard preferences pane in System Preferences. Select the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Choose Launchpad & Dock from the list and then select Show Launchpad.

 

Step 9 of 16: Step 8: Launching Launchpad

Next, double-click to the right of the Show Launchpad label. Type the keyboard shortcut you’d like to use in the text field that appears – Option-Cmd-L, for example. That’s all you need to do to set up a bespoke Launchpad shortcut. But there’s an even faster way to open it up...

 

Step 10 of 16: Step 9: Hot corners

...Go to System Preferences and choose Desktop & Screen Saver and go to Screen Saver. Click the Hot Corners button. In the dialog box that appears, click in the corner you want to use to activate Launchpad. Select ‘Launchpad’ from the pop-up menu and click OK to apply the change.

 

Step 11 of 16: Step 10: Finder in Launchpad

Apple missed a trick by not including the Finder icon in Launchpad. You want it? You can have it. Find Finder.app by hitting Cmd-Shift-G, then entering /System/Library/CoreServices/. Drag the Finder.app icon to Launchpad in the Dock. Open Launchpad and there’s the Finder icon.

 

Step 12 of 16: Step 11: Rebooting Launchpad 1

Uh-oh, something’s wrong. An icon you’ve dropped into place hasn’t appeared or the new page you created can’t be found. You can, fortunately, reboot Launchpad. Even though there’s no direct command to do that, Launchpad is actually part of the Dock. So, restart the Dock and you’ll restart Launchpad.

 

Step 13 of 16: Step 12: Rebooting Launchpad 2

If you’ve never had to restart the Dock, fear not, it’s simple. Open Terminal (in Applications/Utilities). Type ‘killall Dock’ and hit return. Launchpad and the Dock shut down. Then, OS X will start them up again. When they reboot, they’ll be refreshed and most minor problems will be cleared up.

 

Step 14 of 16: Step 13: Refresh contents

If relaunching hasn’t done the job and your Launchpad icons are still misbehaving, you may have to rebuild the Launchpad database. Hit Cmd-Shift-G again, then go to ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/ in the Finder. Here, you’ll see a file ending with the extension ‘db’.

 

Step 15 of 16: Step 14: Recreate the database

That file is Launchpad’s database, telling it what applications to display and where to display them. Delete the file then reboot Launchpad (using the ‘killall Dock’ Terminal command). This forces Launchpad to recreate the database file and should rid you of any glitches and odd behaviour.

 

Step 16 of 16: Step 15: Leaving Launchpad

Finally, you’ve probably already realised that you can press Esc or click on the background to exit Launchpad. But, because the Dock is integrated into Launchpad, choosing an open program in the Dock will also immediately exit Launchpad.

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