Replacing Launchpad on the Mac

LaunchPad on the Mac is an attempt to replicate the main screen in Windows — an area filled with icons to launch installed programs (shortcuts in Windows parlance). There is one big difference. In Windows, users can add or remove shortcuts. In macOS, the process is performed automatically — users are prevented from making any changes. This follows from the general Apple philosophy:

  1. Users are incapable of effort.
  2. The company knows best how everything should be set up.

This approach might be tenable if LaunchPad worked correctly. After installing several programs, it became apparent to me that LaunchPad was not reflecting the current content of the Applications folder. Some programs were not represented by icons no matter how many times I reinstalled them. Furthermore, icons remained even after I dragged the apps to the Trash bin. I made an Internet search and turned up hundreds of entries where people complained about the inability to add to and remove programs in LaunchPad. There were many suggested solutions (e.g., drag the program icon from Finder to the LaunchPad icon on the Dock, reinitialize the system,…). I tried them all with no success. I suspect the solutions worked in some past version of macOS (Heroic Marmot 7.56), but were sandbagged by Apple engineers for reasons unknown.

Fortunately, Field Precision offers an effective solution with more power and reliability than LaunchPad. We have recently ported Computer Task Organizer to the Mac. The full-functioned program is distributed at no charge — it includes no advertisements and sends no information to the Internet. Users who would thoroughly enjoy the program meet two criteria:

  1. They are willing to spend a few seconds to add and remove entries.
  2. They are open to the concept that it is easier to pick out a item from an alphabetized list of titles as opposed to staring at a screen full of icons.

Beside user control, Computer Task Organizer offers two advantages over LaunchPad:

  • CTO can perform a variety of operations besides simply launching programs. The key is that a document as well as a program can be associated with a task. This means that you can do things like open a spreadsheet, connect to an FTP site, open a reference work,…
  • Tasks can be grouped in categories — you can switch between them with simple button clicks. In contrast, items in LaunchPad must be organized by dragging icons back and forth between screens. Changing between screens involves either sweeping with the mouse or clicking microscopic buttons. Furthermore, there is no option to title the screens.

For those of you bold enough to eschew the cutting edge, here is a brief description of CTO.

Screenshot of CTO as a program launcher

Figure 1. Screenshot of CTO as a program launcher.

Figure 1 shows a screenshot of a CTO category I created named Applications. Here, the program performs the same function as LaunchPad. I use the category to run less-commonly used programs that I have not included in the Dock. Note that there are no documents associated with the entries. To run a program, you simply click the blue button on the left. Adding a program is easy. Click New entry, edit the task name and then click on the Task program cell. CTO opens a navigation window where you can find the app (usually, in the Applications folder).

Screenshot of CTO as a task organizer

Figure 2. Screenshot of CTO as a task organizer.

Figure 2 illustrates a function that cannot be performed by LaunchPad. I wanted quick access to all our PDF instruction manuals. In this case, the application (Preview) is always the same. A quick way to make a new entry is to copy-and-paste an existing row and then change the task name and target document.

You can also define tasks to automatically open FTP or web sites. I’ll discuss this topic in the next article. Use this link to download Computer Task Organizer. Here is a link to check out the instruction manual.


[1] Contact us :

[2] Field Precision home page:

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