There are times when you’re deep into your work, and then suddenly a need arises to search something on Google or launch another application or open a file kept somewhere on your system. Not an uncommon situation, right? While these aren’t difficult tasks to perform, they’re definitely a bit time consuming. For example, opening a file whose location you don’t know requires you to search that file first, something that may require an extra few steps, and of course, time.
However, a category of applications exists that makes these tasks a cakewalk. If you haven’t already guessed it, I am talking about Launchers which will make life easy for you. In this article we will discuss how to download, install, configure, and use the Albert launcher on Ubuntu Linux.
Although there isn’t much documentation available on the project, a quick look at its GitHub repository reveals that it’s an active project whose development apparently began sometime last year. As for the functionality, it lets you open files, run applications, perform web searches, do mathematical calculations, and more. It also offers a lot of customization options.
Download and Install
Execute the following commands to download and install the launcher:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8 sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install albert
For those looking for the very latest version, the tool’s source code is available here.
Once you’ve successfully installed it, you can launch it from Dash (if you’re using the Unity environment) or the App Menu of whatever desktop environment you’re using.
When I tried launching the Albert launcher for the first time, I was greeted with the following error.
I pressed OK, and the Albert settings window appeared.
I clicked the “Press to set hotkey” button and then pressed “Ctrl + Shift + ~” to set this key combination as my hotkey for Albert – you can, of course, set any hotkey of your choice.
Pressing the same key combination launched Albert successfully:
To open Google in a new tab of your web browser, just type Google into the launcher and press Enter:
However, if you want to directly search something on Google, you can type in your query in the launcher and then press “Alt + Enter.” For example, I wanted to search for “Maketecheasier” in Google. So when I tyyed this word into the launcher, it first offered me a local file whose name contained this word.
But when I pressed “Alt,” the small line below the file name changed and said that the word will be searched in Google.
As I pressed the Enter key, a new tab containing Google results for “Maketecheasier” was produced.
Here is another example where Albert made life easy for me when I was searching for a file named “Makefile.”
The launcher quickly offered me a list of files with the name “Makefile,” saving me a lot of time.
Similarly, you can also use Albert to perform mathematical operations.
The launcher might require some customization before you can start using it. For example, initially it was searching for all web queries on “google.de” by default. This can easily be changed by heading to the “Modules” tab in its settings window.
You can click on the URL part, and change it the URL you would like it to use in the search. See the screenshot below.
Click the “AppIndex” entry in the leftmost column, and you’ll get to know which system paths the launcher uses to search for apps.
You can add or remove entries here depending on what you are looking for. Similarly, the “Fileindex” entry contains the paths Albert uses to search for files.
The launcher also includes Chromium bookmarks in its search. This setting can be tweaked from within the “Bookmarkindex” entry.
As you’d have observed by now, Albert provides many useful features. This, coupled with the fact that it’s very quick, makes it one of the best launchers available for Linux. The only drawback is that the project is reportedly still in the Alpha stage, which means it’s bound to have some bugs. However, that should not be a big problem in the long run, as the product will mature with time.