Between the Dock, Spotlight, and innumerable third-party utilities, we're always surprised when we find a new approach to application launching for Mac OS X. But Bevy is just that. Press a keyboard shortcut, or click on Bevy’s menu-bar icon, and Bevy pops up a graphical display of all applications on your Mac, with currently running programs highlighted. (See the screenshot at the bottom of this article.) Click on a program’s icon to launch (or switch) to it. It’s a unique—and even fun—approach to working with applications. In my testing, we found it also helped us rediscover stuff we'd forgotten we’d installed.
Do you have so many programs installed that the default Bevy view is a bit overwhelming? Bevy lets you customize it in several ways. For starters, you can exclude a particular program from the display, although you have to perform this action separately for each program; there’s no way to exclude apps en masse. (There’s also no way to exclude entire folders; for example, we’d like to keep anything in /Applications/Games from showing up up in Bevy.) Convenient buttons at the top of the Bevy display let you quickly switch the view to show excluded programs, all programs, or just running programs.
Alternatively, you can filter the display by holding down a letter on your keyboard to highlight those programs whose names include that letter capitalized. In other words, holding down the T key will show TextEdit, Time Machine, and Twitterrific, but also iTunes and QuickTime.
You can also create folders of applications and point Bevy to them; each folder of applications is presented in a separate section in Bevy’s display. Unfortunately, Bevy doesn’t support aliases to applications, so you can’t create a folder containing aliases to your favorite programs and assign that folder within Bevy.
Don’t recognize an icon? Bevy displays the name of each item as you mouse over it; hold the mouse cursor over an icon and after a second or so, you’ll see the full path to the program. Unfortunately, you can’t Command-click on an icon to reveal that program in the Finder, as you can with icons in the Dock.
You can also drag documents onto icons in the Bevy display to open them, just as you can with the Dock. But Bevy betters the Dock here: when drag a document into the Bevy display, Bevy highlights just those programs that can open that type of file.
Bevy uses Spotlight to track programs, so whenever you install a new program, it shows up in Bevy immediately. You can customize the colours and layout of Bevy’s display, as well as the sorting of programs, to best fit your preferences. And Bevy provides clear, detailed Help.
Bevy’s got a few areas where it could improve, but it’s an interesting new take on application launching.