7 Best App Launchers for Windows in 2023 (Free & Paid)
By Alex • Updated July 8, 2023
As a Windows user, finding specific applications, files, or documents can be time-consuming. Luckily, there is a solution: Windows App Launchers.
Our guide reviews the top 7 launchers for 2023, highlighting their key features and what sets them apart, so you can access what you need quickly and boost your productivity.
Best App Launchers for Windows
What Makes a Great App Launcher?
Before we deep dive into the list, it's essential to understand what makes a great app launcher. Here are a few critical factors to consider:
- Speed: A good app launcher should be able to search and launch your desired application or document swiftly and efficiently.
- User-Friendly Interface: The launcher should have a clean, intuitive interface that's easy to navigate, even for beginners.
- Customizability: The ability to customize the launcher to suit your preferences, including keyboard shortcuts, themes, and search parameters, is a significant advantage.
- Versatility: Apart from launching apps, the tool should offer additional features like web search, system commands, and file search.
- Lightweight: The launcher should not consume excessive system resources or interfere with your system’s performance.
- Compatibility: The app launcher should be compatible with your Windows version and other installed software.
Curiosity is a multifunctional productivity tool that doubles as a launcher and search tool. It offers a centralized platform to access everything on your computer and in your cloud apps.
- Access to local and cloud-based apps such as Slack and Google Drive
- Ability to launch programs, view your next calendar event, perform calculations, and more
- Searches within the content of files, including images using OCR
- Ensures data safety by keeping your data on your computer
Our Take: While Curiosity is a relatively new entrant into the world of Windows app launchers, it has already distinguished itself with its versatile features. The ability to search within file content sets it apart from many other launchers. However, its limited number of integrations with cloud apps and the time it takes to complete a file content search are areas where it could improve.
Flow Launcher is an open-source launcher known for its speed and simplicity. It is compatible with both Windows 10 and Windows 11, facilitating quick access to installed apps and files.
- Fast and efficient app and file search
- Ability to perform Google searches when the specified search term isn't found
- Open-source, allowing for customization and improvements
- Offers built-in commands and hidden features
Our Take: Flow Launcher's speed and simplicity make it a top choice for users who want a no-frills, efficient launcher. The fact that it's open-source also means that it's continually evolving, with new features and improvements added regularly.
Windows Search, integrated into Windows 11, serves as a native launcher with significant advancements from previous versions. It lets you search documents on your computer, Microsoft accounts, installed apps, and the web.
- Fast and integrated natively into Windows
- Capability to perform web searches and system commands
- Improved Start Menu design, a step-up from earlier Windows versions
Our Take: Windows Search is a reliable option for those who prefer not to install third-party launchers. While it may not offer as many features as other launchers, its native integration into the Windows system ensures smooth operation and consistent updates.
Fluent Search offers a user-friendly interface and a vast range of search capabilities. It allows you to search for apps, files, processes, browser tabs, and even actions within apps.
- Advanced search functions including fuzzy search and regex search
- Ability to execute actions within apps, such as pausing a video
- Offers customizable themes and settings
Our Take: Fluent Search stands out with its extensive search capabilities and customizable features. The ability to perform actions within apps is a unique feature that can significantly boost productivity. However, its user interface may seem a bit complex for beginners.
Cerebro is an open-source launcher that emphasizes extensibility. It offers a central place to search everything in your system, including applications, files, and system settings.
- Offers a built-in preview for results, such as maps for locations and thumbnails for images
- Ability to perform calculations, conversions, and translations
- Customizable through a vast range of plugins
Our Take: Cerebro's extensibility and wide variety of plugins make it a versatile launcher. It's particularly useful for users who like to customize their tools to meet their specific needs.
Ueli is a powerful, open-source launcher compatible with both Windows and macOS. It offers a range of features beyond launching applications and files, including a currency converter, dictionary, calculator, and color converter.
- Supports searching in browser bookmarks
- Offers various built-in tools like a currency converter and dictionary
- Compatible with both Windows and macOS
Our Take: Ueli's cross-platform compatibility and range of built-in tools make it a versatile choice for users of both Windows and macOS. However, not all features work on both platforms, and some are specific to one or the other.
Launchy is a free, open-source launcher designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager.
- Launches your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes
- Skinnable and customizable through a range of plugins
- Consumes minimal system resources
Our Take: Launchy's minimalist design and lightweight resource consumption make it an excellent choice for users who prefer a simple, straightforward launcher.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an App Launcher? An app launcher is a tool that allows you to quickly locate and launch applications, files, or documents on your system with just a few keystrokes.
Why do I need a Windows App Launcher? A Windows app launcher enhances your productivity by reducing the time and effort required to locate and open applications or files. It also helps to declutter your desktop by replacing numerous icons with a single, streamlined interface.
Are App Launchers safe? Most app launchers are safe to use. However, it's always advisable to download them from a trusted source and ensure they don't require excessive permissions.
Can I customize an App Launcher? Yes, many app launchers allow customization, including changing themes, modifying keyboard shortcuts, and adding plugins.
Are there free App Launchers available? Yes, many of the best app launchers, including some of those mentioned in this guide, are completely free to use.
In conclusion, the Best Windows App Launchers offer a great way to enhance your productivity and streamline your workflow. Whether you choose Curiosity, Flow Launcher, Windows Search, Fluent Search, Cerebro, Ulie, or Launchy, you can expect a significant boost in efficiency. Happy launching!