Friday, August 19, 2011

Using Launchpad as Applications folder replacement on Mac OS X Lion

Hey what a beautiful title...

So in case you're like me and decided to give Launchpad a chance, I give you a small tutorial on how to make the transition as painless as possible.

As Apple obviously does not want me to use a Folder but an App (...blah blah...killing the desktop metaphor...blah blah blah....) I thought, I want the Launchpad App EXACTLY at the same position as I had my Applications Folder, meaning the first item in the Dock, right of that boundary line (no pictures for that, I'm sure you know what I mean).

Ok so the most obvious attempt was, simply trying to drag the Launchpad App over the boundary line, but that does not work (why should it be THAT easy anyway...).

So, second try, lets see whats in the Dock Plist (a Plist, or "Property List", on Mac OS X is a XML structured Config file which Apple uses throughout the whole system). This time, as you will see, I was more lucky.

The Plist file for the Dock is named and can be found in ~/Library/Preferences. In Mac OS X Lion, the Library Folder is hidden, so its not too easy to mess up the system.
Before starting (to make things easier for you when using this Tutorial), make sure the Launchpad App is actually in your Dock, so it looks something like this:

Our goal will be to move the Launchpad App to the right of the boundary line:

1. Open Finder and press CMD+Shift+G which opens the "Go to Folder" dialogue and enter "~/Library/Preferences" and hit Enter. This will move you to your Preferences Folder (surprise, surprise).

2. Hooray, we are in the Preferences Folder, now look for the File

3. Open the Plist File, there are 2 properties that are of special interest to us, the array "persistent-apps" and the array "persistent-others". persistent-apps is the list of Apps in your Dock (everything left of the boundary line), persistent-others is the list of Items right of the boundary line. So what we are doing is moving the Launchpad item from the persistent-apps array to the persistent others array. The Launchpad App has the bundle identifier, go and find it!

4. When you found it simply mark the whole Item, in my case I would mark Item 0, then copy it (CMD+C) and paste it to the persistent-others array (CMD+V). Afterwards you can delete the Item in the persistent-apps array (simply by Backspace)

5. We're almost finished now, first save the Plist (CMD+S) and close it (CMD+Q) and finally we need to restart the Dock so the changes have an effect. For that open Terminal, enter "killall Dock" and hit Enter.

6. Watch your Dock restarting and voila, Launchpad is in the correct place. So in case everything went right, your Dock should look something like this:

7. Finally, to get the best out of Launchpad and to increase your productivity another bit, set a Keyboard shortcut for launching Launchpad. I'm using CMD+`, which makes it easy to quickly fire up Launchpad with my left hand. You do that via System Preferences/Keyboard on the Tab Keyboard Shortcuts.