Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kupfer: A Very Nice Application Launcher

screenshot of Kupfer on desktop

I heard a lot of good things about Kupfer over the years but I never played with it. But when I wrote about switching to Xubuntu 12.04 and my love of the Xfce application finder, a commenter mentioned Kupfer, an application launcher. It was something I had always thought about trying, but because I was content with the the default Xfce application finder, I didn’t feel compelled to take it for a spin.

Then my wife got a Macbook from work. I helped her get oriented and showed her Spotlight, the OS X tool that finds files and applications as you type and I became jealous. Why was she opening files from her dashboard while I was opening applications and then files? (GNOME 3 has functionality similar to Spotlight, but limits the number of previously-opened files it remembers. I was a fan of that back when I used GNOME.)

I quickly downloaded and installed Kupfer and it’s been pretty great. Kupfer opens files and applications. You choose a key combination to launch it (I actually did this through the Application Shortcuts menu of the Keyboard area in the Xfce Settings Manager dashboard, since I wanted to bind it to the Super/Windows key and Kupfer needed it to be a combination of two keys). Once that got rolling, Kupfer took care of itself, figuring out which programs I wanted based upon frequency of usage. As soon as I type an F, Firefox appears as the first program option. Kupfer respects system defaults, so all of my text files automatically open with gedit, although I did have to go in and create that association outside of Kupfer via the Open With menu that pops up when you right click on a file. I subsequently learned that Kupfer lets you create default application settings within its interface.

Kupfer will also open folders that are bookmarked in your file manager. It took me a while to figure out why certain folders could be opened via Kupfer and others couldn’t. I use PCManFM as my default file manager, so in exploring this, I also discovered that folders bookmarked in PCManFM are simultaneously bookmarked in Thunar, so I’m not sure if Kupfer pulls its information from Thunar or PCManFM.

Kupfer does a lot of other things. It lets you move and copy files. It lets you open web pages. It lets you create a list of favorite files and applications. It has a long list of plugins that will give you hooks into other applications, including the Xfce shutdown menu. I just use Kupfer to quickly open files and applications and it’s great for that.

screenshot of Kupfer menu options

As I’ve mentioned before, I was a huge fan of GNOME 3, but moved to Xfce because Ubuntu doesn’t have a great pure GNOME implementation yet (at least not one on a long-term stable release). GNOME 3 and Unity already have this functionality baked in (as do OS X and Windows), so I love that I have yet another beloved element of the GNOME experience within Xfce.

If you’re looking for a good, light application launcher, or a quick and easy way to pop open files, Kupfer is, as many people told me, worth a look. It’s another tool to help me in my never-ending quest to avoid touching the mouse/trackpoint.