Absolutely Incredibly Essential Utility of the Month

A couple months ago I wrote a column about two “Indispensible” utilities, one of which was Launchy.  I  had to issue something of a retraction:

Update June 23, While this program is incredibly useful, I’ve noticed [what]  looks like a nasty memory leak, and while I do like this program, I’ve suspended it for now.

Subsequently I’ve learned of a wonderful, stupendous substitute: FARR (Find And Run Robot).

It has it all.  Set  up takes zero time.  The defaults are excellent so you can just run it.  If you want to tweak it, there are more options than on the space shuttle.  And it is wicked fast, and does a lot more than finding your applications, but it does that incredibly well.


Hit the Launch FARR key combination (either Pause or, as I like to do, control-space) and up pops the search window with your most recent choices.

Start typing and as you type FARR starts narrowing in on the application you want.


Even better, it learns.

The first time I typed Visu, Visual Studio was number 5 (fair enough, it’s real name is Microsoft Visual Studio.  Once I launched it, however, the next time I searched, it was top of the list.

Even Better you can highlight a word in your document and hit search, and it will search for that word.

Even Better, you can hit control-space, see what is #1 and just hit enter to get that.

Or you can scroll to the one you want.

Or pick its number from the number pad.

Want more? take a look at these options:


You can use the default heuristics or change them in any way that makes sense to you.

Okay, there’s a lot more, but I love this program already.  You do want/need a license key, which is free, but which reminds you that it would be perfectly okay to make a donation. I did, you should.

Free?  Yes, if you want.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty has three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects and is the author of 2 dozen books and a couple dozen Pluralsight & LinkedIn Learning courses. He was a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP and a Microsoft MVP.
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9 Responses to Absolutely Incredibly Essential Utility of the Month

  1. Vlad says:

    Great utility that I’ve used in the past in Lunchy… Its has alot of great functionality in it


  2. Ray says:

    Windows 7 can do same. By default it will look in directories in the Library. You can add any directory of your choice into the Library.

    As for FARR… Launchy has been there for years. Gnome DO in the Linux as well… Spotlight in the Mac OS…

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  4. nod5 says:

    Nice writeup of a great tool. A tip: there’s also a boatload of FARR plugins and a community of receptive devs at donationcoder.com . Several plugins have been made after user requests. (disclaimer: I’ve used FARR on a daily basis for years and hang out at donationcoder so I’m happily partial!)

  5. FARR User says:

    Does the windows 7 built in have the ability to take notes also and search them like a plugin for farr has?

  6. dan says:

    @Refracted Paladin One of the many features FARR has over and above Win7’s built in is the ability to search any directory on your filesystem, not just the Start Menu. That alone has proved essential for my daily use.

  7. mouser says:


    Thank you so much for your write up of the program. I’m really happy to hear you like it.

    If you have any feature requests please don’t hesitate to let me know or post on our forum.
    Because there are so many weird features and tricks, I also did a ton of screencast videos on how to get the most of the program, so make sure you check those out if you get bored 🙂

    -mouser (author of Find and Run Robot)

  8. Hi,
    Since Vista days I’ve been using Executor which by far is better thna Launchy. Besides the keywords, you may set that a particulrar program must run ‘elevated’ (for instances, vsa and ssmsa are my keywords to open Visual Studio and SQL Server Management Studio in elevated mode when I need it), it allows you to browse your latest entries in the clipboard, performa match calculations, setup macros, so that for ex., I type netcfg gprs and it will look for GPRS on the .NET Compact Framework newsgroup, returnin resultes sorted by date (from Google Groups), among many other things.

    It is free as well and can be downloaded from http://www.executor.dk/

  9. Refracted Paladin says:

    One thing I have always wondered, what does a program like this “truly” get me over Win 7’s built in? On my Win7 machine I hit the Windows Key, start typing “Visu” and pop, there it is.

    I am not trying to be negative, I just want to understand what it will do for me above the built in.


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