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HippoLaunch is an Application Launcher. A Fast One. That's Free.

We all know that the MacOSX Lion release will give us a great looking iOS style Application Launcher, but I want something quicker to use, besides HL will work on the Intel Mac's as well as the older Non Intel models.

For me quicker means using the keyboard which is why I have tried every ?command line' launcher for the Mac before giving up and writing my own.

So, what was wrong with the others ? Well, not a lot really although they did tend to be a Swiss Army Knife when all I wanted was a screwdriver, they were also not as fast as I would more...


Mac OS X 10.4.1 or later

*Previously available here

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HippoLaunch User Discussion

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Jools912 Member IconReview+34

Absolutely awful. Looks like it was designed by a Windows programmer with no Mac design, UI, usability skills whatsoever.

Apart from the completely non-Mac standard UI and the picture of a hippo (WTF?) this does nothing that Spotlight (already built-in to Mac OS X) doesn't do infinitely better.

It doesn't even do a live search as you type to find applications.

Why use a floppy disk icon for saving preferences? When did Macs last have a floppy disk?

The Preferences menu in the app is grayed out, so you have to click a non-standard Blue "i" icon, which brings up a window labelled "About".

In the "Statistics" tab there are 3 icons, two of which are identical with no clue as to what they do. In fact the 2 identical icons appear to do nothing!

For some unknown reason this "About" window is slightly transparent, and when you close it, does a 3D flip before just vanishing. Why?

Pointless, poorly implemented animation, for a completely pointless app.

If this is the sort of rubbish Windows programmers are bringing to the Mac, please stay on Windows...

Reply2 replies
Version 0.5.3
Steve Cholerton

Thanks for your time taken writing your review. I'll answer a number of your points:

1. Even Apple (iTunes, Garageband) no longer conform to a Mac 'standard' besides when writing something for personal use, which this was originally, why try and do anything standard ?

2. Picture of a Hippo. TruPhone on the iPad has a picture of a cream cake with pink icing. So what ?

3. Animation. Yep, pointless. All those iOS apps with their page turning animations - utterly pointless, the Screen Roll that a Mac does during OS installation - pointless. I'm in good company at least.

4. Statistics Icons - yep, my bad. I should have labelled them. They will export the application usage logs by the way, tab or CSV - in the release version. This is Beta 0.5.3

5. Spotlight is a slower way to launch apps. Spotlight has no application usage.

6. It does exactly what it supposed todo. It's free. Take it or leave it.

Cheers - Steve


Thanks for the response, Steve. Here's mine:

1) Apple are constantly refining, enhancing and pushing the boundaries of their OS & app UI design. There's no mistaking iTunes or Garageband for Mac applications designed by Apple. HippoLaunch looks like a Windows application. There's been no attempt to make it look anything like a Mac app, or improve upon the current Mac UI.

2) The cupcake in Truphone is little more than a 'wallpaper' behind the application and obscures nothing. The hippo in HippoLaunch obscures potentially useful information behind the launcher, and flickers badly when moving up and down the app list. The hippo in the About window is sufficient, but not the one in the main application UI. The day Apple starts putting random animals in the main interface of their applications is the day I stop using a Mac.

3) HippoLaunch is not an iOS app, so I don't understand why you're making that comparison. Plus, most animations in iOS apps do serve a feedback, navigational or orientational purpose, due to the single window nature of iOS. How often do you re-install a Mac to see that screen-turning animation? Far less often than visiting the Preferences of this application. Plus, the screen-turning animation actually switches between different screens of information. The 3D flip in HippoLaunch just shows the same info before vanishing.

5) Spotlight is way faster for me even on old G5/G4 Macs. Spotlight is built-in to the OS, so there's no separate application to run. Spotlight learns the most frequent results and puts them at the top. Spotlight updates the results live as you type.

To launch Safari in Spotlight I just press Cmd-Space, type 's' and press Return.

To launch Safari in HippoLaunch (assuming its already running), I press Cmd-Return (not Cmd-Enter as stated in the instructions), type 'sa' (at a minimum to avoid too many matches), press Return, press down, highlight Safari, press Return.

How is HippoLaunch quicker? I don't have any need to know how many times I've launched a particular application.

A few more points:

a) You're unable to dismiss the HippoLaunch window without actually launching an application or quitting it.

b) You're unable to hide the app icon in the Dock like many other application launchers can.

c) You're unable to drag and move the HippoLaunch window.

d) Visual artifacts around the X button and 'i' button when clicked upon.

e) Clicking in the HippoLaunch window doesn't make the application active, so the menu bar is not accessible. You have to click the icon in the dock to be able to quit it.

f) Preferences menu is grayed out. Why is it there if you can't use it?

g) Even though there is a HippoLaunch icon in the Dock, clicking it doesn't invoke the launcher window.

h) Clicking between the 3 curved boxes in the HippoLaunch interface causes a nasty flashing effect.

i) What does the "i" in the Blue icon stand for? I presumed it was 'i' for 'info'. But in the documentation, it say's pressing the 'Info' icon brings up "Preferences", yet the window that appears is labelled "About". Sorry, but careless inconsistencies like this make the application look amateurish.

j) Why not use standard Mac-style icons for the ones in the Statistics window (which I now see have tooltips describing their functions), instead of Windows-style icons?

k) In the description it says "I want to hit my chosen key combination", however you can't actually make your own choice, you can only choose Cmd-Return (not Enter as stated) or Cmd-Space (which doesn't work as it conflicts with Spotlight unless you turn the Spotlight shortcut off).


Steve Cholerton Member IconComment+81
Steve Cholerton

If you find any bugs or have any suggestions for improvements, let me know.

If you like it then please rate it.


steve@artenscience.com - Developer.

Reply2 replies
Version 0.5.3

Maybe I'm missing something here, but in the product description it says " Basically I want to hit my chosen key combination, the default is Cmd & Enter, instantly start typing ʻsafʼ, press Enter and have Safari load ".

That's exactly how Spotlight works on my 3.06gHz Core 2 Duo 24" iMac ... and very quickly. Does the increased speed maybe show more on slower machines or is there something in the way HippoLauncher works that makes it quicker that gets lost in the description the way I read it ?

I realize that Hippo adds the functionality of app usage stats, but that is not something I find useful. I have not tried Hippo yet as I am not in the habit of installing just any app on my system to "try it out" unless there is something I can put my finger on that will be more useful than anything I already have installed ( perhaps that's why my Spotlight works so quickly LOL ) so please describe just what in the Hippo operation makes it quicker and/or more convenient than Spotlight. Thanks

Steve Cholerton


Thanks for your comments.

The program is Universal Binary so will work on the older Macs which will not have the latest and fastest processors or the latest version of the OS, in this scenario it is much faster than Spotlight.

Also as the Stats accumulate your 'top nine 'is shown automatically which means for example Safari could be launched by just pressing '1'.

Many of my customers run legacy hardware, I should have mentioned that that is the distinction. I personally continue it because although I have fast machines I find the stats useful, although you cannot export them yet, the can be accessed easily.

Cheers - Steve

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Current Version (0.x)


Downloads 1,777
Version Downloads 1,777
License Free
Date 21 Jun 2011
Platform OS X / PPC 32 / Intel 32
Price Free