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I like to use the Synapse launcher in Ubuntu (Xfce) - I think I would prefer it even to Dash from Unity.

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Is there something close to that for Windows 7?

I use the Start search/launch feature of Windows 7, but I would like an alternative to that, something more close to Synapse, with a larger window, for example.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Launchy should be the thing you are looking for.
Quoted from Wikipedia:

Launchy is an open source application launcher for Windows, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, and GNU/Linux. It indexes shortcuts in the start menu, and files in specific folders to allow quicker access to programs without opening the start menu itself, or browsing to the relevant folder. [...] Launchy can add folders and file formats to its catalog for indexing, so it can launch almost anything on a computer, including programs, URLs (also from bookmarks) and documents; as well as run Google, Wikipedia, MSN, and Yahoo searches, bringing the results up in the default browser.

enter image description here

Another alternative could be Executor. From the website:

This is a multi purpose launcher and a more advanced and customizable version of windows run. The program originated as I was sick of spending too much time searching for programs through my ever growing windows start-menu, and also I missed a tool that could ease and optimize my daily work flow. There was of course already programs like this available, but each had it's annoyance or missing features or too(!) geeky.

enter image description here

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Not a bad answer but needs more cowbell. How about a screenshot, and further information on why launchy is awesome? – Journeyman Geek May 15 '13 at 11:44
I'm answering from my phone right now, I will do that ASAP when I'll be in front of my computer – Sekhemty May 15 '13 at 11:51
@JourneymanGeek - or I'll edit myself when I'll check it out and accept the answer – cipricus May 15 '13 at 12:22
I've added another alternative. – Sekhemty May 16 '13 at 21:00
how to assign a shortkey in order o show Executor? – cipricus Nov 18 '13 at 12:23

The best option for Windows 7 IMO is to install - it makes the Search functionality from the Start Menu more intelligent by adding things like substring search and launch frequency tracking (so that it learns to autoselect the programs you use most often).

The main problem with it is that it still relies on the basic search functionality provided by Windows so:

  • It's usually slow to react the first time you use it after a Windows restart.

  • It can only launch system settings / Control Panel shortcuts or the shortcuts it can find in the Start Menu (Programs etc.) - it doesn't look at your list of installed programs (the former "Add/Remove Programs"). The way I "teach" it new programs is by manually creating shortcuts for them in an out-of-the-way folder in Programs/Accessories/CustomShortcuts.

The main reason I prefer it to Launchy and Executor and Enso Launcher is that it can be accessed with a single key-press, typically the Super key, after which I can immediately start typing what I'm trying to launch, which is exactly what I do with Synapse on Linux. Compared to Synapse though, I sorely miss the ability to type mathematical expressions directly in the search box and have them calculated live.

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+1 because you explained what advantage your method has above the other answer. – Tim Oct 18 '13 at 13:49

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