Launchy Application Launcher Released for Linux

Launchy is a well-known open source application launcher for Windows. With version 2.1, Launchy has been ported to Linux.

Launchy is a free windows and linux utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager.

Launchy on Linux

Launchy can be installed from the DEB package provided on the download page.

After installing the package, run Launchy from Applications->Accessories->Launchy. Launchy will appear in the top left corner of your screen. The default key for displaying Launchy while it’s hidden is Ctrl-Space.

To start Launchy when you log in, open System->Preferences->Sessions and add a new item for Launchy with the command set to launchy.

Launchy is simple to use. Start typing the name of the name of the application you want, and if Launchy finds it, press enter to run. If Launchy finds more than one option use the up and down arrows to select the one you want.

Access the preferences by right-clicking on the Launchy window and selecting Options. Here’s a screenshot of my customized Launchy:

customized Launchy

I found a few rough edges in this version of Launchy. Some applications are missing their icons when displayed in Launchy. Items from the System menu are not shown with their user-friendly names; instead of Appearance, Launchy displays gnome-appearance-properties.

The suggestion list does two things I’m not sure are intentional or not. Pressing enter does nothing until I press the down key to select a suggestion, it seems that the first one should be the default. Also, typing anything after the suggestion area has opened closes Launchy.

GNOME Do is another popular application launcher, and probably Launchy’s main competition on Linux. I love GNOME Do, and use it every day. It’s is more powerful with it’s dual-pane view and plugins, but also less simple to use and more resource-heavy. On my system Launchy uses only 6.5 MB of memory, and GNOME Do 20 MB.

If you’re looking for an application launcher, or are a GNOME Do user, definitely give Launchy a try.

Archived Comments


“but also less simple to use”

As someone involved with Gnome Do a bit I’d love to hear the comparisons on where we can improve usability to correct this. Any specifics on where launchy was a bit easier to use?



Tom I have Gnomedo in startup. GnomeDo shows up the panes rather than staying hidden during startup. On windows Launchy stays hidden rather than showing up. What to do?


I installed Launchy today on my Ubuntu. But, it doesn’t find anythings ;( It’s like the catalog cannot be build, but, I will try on XP machine just for fun.


I found Launchy simpler because it shows a traditional text box (it’s easier to see what I’ve typed), and it doesn’t have GNOME Do’s more powerful dual-pane view.

GNOME Do has a –quiet option you can run it with to make it stay hidden.



In more recent versions of Gnome Do (0.5 and above) you can just click ‘Hide Window on First Launch’ in the Preferences window (you can get the preferences by clicking the little down arrow in the Gnome Do window).

I’m really enjoying the automatic installing of plugin updates in the latest version of Do (0.5.97 - downloaded through the ppa yesterday).


I have Launchy on my Windows machines, but I’m not sure if it can match GnomeDo on Linux…


I’ll be happy when either one works with Amarok!


Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t GnomeDO coming installed by default on some version of Linux distractions? I just use the run command for apps right now, Alt+F2 does the job for me. :)


“The suggestion list does two things I’m not sure are intentional or not. Pressing enter does nothing until I press the down key to select a suggestion, it seems that the first one should be the default.”

It is for me. No need to press down, enter is sufficient. Although that could be because it may feel more at home in my KDE 4 environment than in Gnome (both KDE and Launchy being written using qt4). Don’t know if that’s the case, just speculating a little.

Another odd thing though…sometimes it refuses to launch programs and I get an error claiming it can’t find the program in question. The same commandline works from a shell (or the alt-f2 combo) though, so it seems like it somehow tries to treat the arguments as a part of the filename. Sounds a bit far-fetched but the only thing I could think of. Either that or it doesn’t care about what’s in my path, but that sounds far-fetched too.

Vadim P.

64bit .debs:


kudos for launchy, still need time for some stability issue. :)


Thanks Tom and Thanks Daniel!!!


For a simple and stable desktop, people don’t need ‘gnome-do’ - they can use ALT-F2 which is built in to the system and works for freshly installed apps, and is simply an enhanced command launcher (for example, once you find a command, you can put in front ‘gksu’ and launch that way - which you can’t do with Gnome-Do’.

However, gnome-do offers more options, and plugins, which enables it to be a more generally integrated and wide reaching application (with more options).

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