Depending on your current configuration, some of the abbreviations suggested in the examples may deliver different results.

Just use somewhat longer abbreviations in that case, e.g. type BOFOL instead of BF in order to select the “Bookmark Folders” category.

Note also that once you’ve trained shorter abbreviations for your favorite items you will be able to use these shortcuts as well and type things like


to search for “Network Utility” within the “Applications” category.


Sub-searching items that represent collections of other items (folders, categories, etc.) is a very powerful technique to narrow down the search results as shown in many of the examples.

A sub-search can be initiated by pressing either the space bar or the right arrow key. If you now enter an abbreviation, only the selected context will be searched for matching items (instead of searching the whole index). An ongoing sub-search is indicated with a blue text color.

Note that you can perform multiple sub-searches in the current context. If the entered abbreviation doesn’t yet deliver the expected results, simply type another abbreviation. To revert to the full index search, press ⌘Space.

Usage Examples

At the first glance LaunchBar appears to be just an inconspicuous little search tool. But under the hood it offers an outstanding feature set with countless possible uses. Here are just a few examples to demonstrate the power and the flexibility of LaunchBar.

Working with files and folders

  • Type e.g. TED to select the TextEdit application
  • Press Space (or Right Arrow) to access the recent documents of TextEdit
  • Type ~ (the tilde sign) to quickly select your home folder
  • Or type / (forward slash) to quickly select your startup volume
  • Use the arrow keys keys to browse the contents of the selected folder or volume
  • Type e.g. DESK to select the “Desktop” folder
  • Now press Right Arrow to see all items on the Desktop
  • Type another abbreviation to select one of these items
  • Press ⇧⌘R to rename the selected item
  • See the “Commands” menu for more file operations such as “Duplicate”, “Get Info” or “Move to Trash”
  • Select a file (via abbreviation search, browsing, ⌘G, etc.)
  • Press ⌘C to copy its file-path
  • Select a folder
  • Press ⌘V to get a menu with possible file operations (Move, Copy, Make Alias, etc.)
  • Use the arrow up/down keys or the function keys to select the desired file operation
  • Press ⌘G to transfer the current Finder selection to LaunchBar
  • Press Tab to initiate “Open with…”
  • Select the desired target application, type e.g. TED to select TextEdit
  • Type e.g. MV to select the “Mounted Volumes” indexing rule
  • Press Space (or Right Arrow) to get a list of all mounted volumes
  • Press ⌘E to eject the selected volume

Searching for items of a particular kind

  • Type e.g. CAT to select the “Categories” indexing rule
  • Press Space to sub-search for a specific category
  • Type e.g. GEN to select the “Genres” category, containing all genres defined in your iTunes Library
  • Press Space to sub-search this group for a particular genre
  • Type e.g. CLA to select the “Classical” genre
  • Press Right Arrow to start browsing the selected genre (e.g. to view a list of all classical albums or composers)
  • Note that you can also skip the initial steps and type CLA immediately to directly select the “Classical” genre.
  • Select a category to sub-search it for an item of a particular kind
  • Type e.g. PHN to search for a “Phone Number”
  • Type e.g. PNG to search for a “PNG Image”
  • Type e.g. IMFI to search for any kind of “Image File” (PNG, JPEG, TIFF, GIF, etc.)
  • Type e.g. APHE to search for an “AppKit Header File”
  • Once the desired category is selected, press Space and sub-search it by entering a further abbreviation

Browsing and searching the web

  • Type e.g. SAHI to select the “Safari History” indexing rule
  • Press Space to sub-search all recently visited web pages
  • Type an abbreviation for the searched web page
  • Type e.g. GEP to select the “Google Exact Phrase” search template
  • Press Space and enter a phrase that you wish to search exactly with Google
  • Press Return to get the search results displayed in your web browser
  • Type a dot character to start entering an arbitrary URL
  • Complete the URL
  • Press Return to get the entered address opened in your default web browser
  • Alternatively press Tab to select the desired web browser
  • Type e.g. BFO to select the “Bookmark Folders” category
  • Press Space and select a particular bookmark folder
  • Press Return to open all bookmarks within this folder at once

Interacting with Terminal

  • Select a folder (via abbreviation search, browsing, Instant Send, ⌘G, etc.)
  • Press ⌘T to open a new Terminal window for this folder
  • Select a file (via abbreviation search, browsing, ⌘G, Instant Send, etc.)
  • Press ⇧⌘T to prepare a Terminal command for this file
  • Type e.g. “cksum” to calculate the file’s checksum
  • Type e.g. MAN to select the Unix “man” command
  • Press Space to enter a parameter for the selected command, e.g. the name of the man page you wish to open
  • Press Return to get the results displayed in a new Terminal window