When most Mac users think of their favorite operating system features, it’s likely Launchpad isn’t at the top of any lists. Unfamiliar with Launchpad? Think of it as an easy way to arrange and organize all of your macOS apps.
Unfortunately, Apple hasn’t really done much with the feature over the past couple of years. That’s likely because macOS users gravitate to Spotlight rather than Launchpad. However, don’t let the lack of updates fool you. Launchpad can be powerful if you’re properly familiar with its capabilities. Let’s take a look at some of the best tips for making the most of Launchpad on Mac.
Opening Launchpad can be done in a multitude of ways, all of which are straightforward and easy to remember.
1. Click the Launchpad icon in the dock, the one that looks like a gray circle with a rocketship.
2. Alternatively, you can also use your MacBook trackpad and pinch with your thumb and three fingers.
3. Press the F4 key on your keyboard. (If you’re using a third-party keyboard, you might need to press FN + F4.)
4. Use the Launchpad icon in your Applications folder.
Once you’re on the Launchpad screen, you will quickly see an icon for every Mac application on your computer. You can move between pages using two fingers on the trackpad and swipe right or left. If you want to reorganize, you can hold down any icon with your mouse cursor until the apps shake. This method of organization will be extremely familiar to iOS users. Now that you know how to open and move around Launchpad, it’s time to make it work for you.
One of the most popular uses of Launchpad is a hot corner. A hot corner is essentially a shortcut to quickly accessing things on your Mac. This shortcut will enable you to access Launchpad from any application on your Mac at any point. By setting up a hot corner, you’ll be able to jump right into Launchpad and find the next application you want to open.
Setting up a hot corner is easy in macOS Catalina.
1. Click the Apple icon and jump into system preferences.
2. Select Mission Control.
3. Toward the bottom left when you see an option for Hot Corners, click on it.
4. A selection of four boxes will appear. Inside each box you can select a different Hot Corner. Which one you use is up to you.
5. Whichever direction you’ve chosen, the moment you move your mouse cursor into that corner, Launchpad will open.
Opening an Application
As mentioned earlier, there is a strong movement for Mac users to go all-in on Spotlight for opening applications. That might be good for some people, but for others, Launchpad is just right. Opening an app from Launchpad is as basic as it gets.
1. Open Launchpad via one of the methods described earlier.
2. Move the mouse cursor to the search bar and click on it.
3. Type the application name you wish to find or open and hit enter.
App Store Downloads
If you are already in macOS Catalina or Mojave, one of the “new” features of the Mac App Store is the removal of download monitoring. While the jury is out on why Apple removed such a basic function for users to view, they did.
Fortunately, Launchpad “restores” the ability to check your App Store downloads. While you are in the middle of any download, just hover your mouse icon over the Launchpad icon on your dock. A small gray window will appear that notifies you how much of the download has been completed. When an app is finished downloading, the Launchpad icon jumps a few times.
Like iOS, Launchpad enables you to click and drag apps together to make folders for better organization. Want to make a folder for all of your Microsoft Office applications? Move the mouse cursor over any Microsoft app and hold the mouse down until the app shakes. Keep holding the mouse down and move the application icon onto another Microsoft Office application to create a folder. Then move every Microsoft application into the same folder using the same method of holding the mouse cursor over the app icon.
If you do not care for folders, you can also drag and arrange apps any way you would like. Similar to folder creation, you will press and hold down the mouse on any app icon and move it to another Launchpad page. Alternatively, you can keep it on the same page and move it to another row, another spot in the same row, etc.
Uninstalling applications on the Mac platform has never been as straightforward as it should be. That is not to say that Launchpad makes it any easier, but it does allow you an opportunity to trash unwanted applications. Deleting third-party applications is a little trickier, but for apps downloaded from the Mac App Store, it is quite simple.
Once again, this process will be very familiar to iOS users. You can select which App Store apps to delete through one of two methods.
1. Press and hold the Option key down on your keyboard and all of your applications will jiggle.
2. Hold your mouse cursor over any application until the applications begin jiggling.
Whichever method you choose, once the apps begin to jiggle, an “X” appears at the top-left of every icon. To remove an app, click on the X and watch the app delete itself.
If you have never used Launchpad before, it is fair to say that your Mac experience is not better or worse. That is not the full story, though, as those who do use Launchpad are likely more productive as they have an entirely new way to open, arrange and delete applications. If nothing else, the ability to monitor downloads from the App Store makes Launchpad an invaluable tool for all Mac users.