If you are a fan of application launchers to quickly launch your favorite applications from the keyboard, you’ll probably want to take a look at a new one from Microsoft Office Labs called Speed Launch.

Rather than try and index everything on your computer like Launchy or the Vista Search box, this application lets you add exactly what you want in the list, and even lets you assign an item to launch multiple applications, documents or websites at once.

Using Speed Launch

After you install the application, you’ll notice a little bull’s-eye floating on your desktop that you can simply drag any shortcut or URL onto.

You’ll be prompted to give the shortcut a name…

Which you will use by using the Win + C shortcut key combination (or double-clicking on the bull’s-eye), and then type in the name of the shortcut. You’ll notice that your most frequently used items show up below the search box.

You can add/remove shortcuts from the list by clicking the arrow and choosing Manage Shortcuts from the menu.

Adding Google Search

The one really irritating thing that I found was that Google search isn’t included in the list by default, and adding it is a little wonky… just click on the Add button here:

And then in the Name box, use Google. with the period at the end, very important. Then add in the following as the target, making sure to click the Add button before clicking Create.


By adding the period at the end of the name, you’ll be prompted to “Create Function”, where you should enter “search term” into the first textbox, and then highlight “test” in the URL section, indicating that Speed Launch should replace test with your keyword.

Now when you choose Google from the search box or button on the launcher window, you’ll be prompted for a search term.

You can even create a shortcut that will launch multiple websites or applications at once, for instance I created an item called “Favorite Websites” that launches the websites I use most.

You can even hide the Desktop Bullseye by right-clicking on it and choosing “Hide Desktop Bullseye”, or you can just shrink it down really small if you want.

This is a rather cool little application, well worth a look. It runs on either XP or Vista, but note that it requires .NET Framework 3.0.

Speed Launch – Microsoft Office Labs

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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