How To Launch Apps On the Mac

If an app isn't in your Dock, you can easily find it and launch it one of several common ways. You can look for it in the Applications folder, use LaunchPad or search with Spotlight. If you use an app often, add it to the Dock to easier access.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: How To Launch Apps On the Mac.

Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let's take a look at the common ways to launch apps on your Mac.

Let's talk about launching apps. Say you want to launch an app and you don't see it down here in the Dock. A lot of people use the Dock to launch their apps and it is probably the best way to launch your most common apps. But what if it's not here. How do you launch it? Well there are several different easy and common ways to do it.

So let's start by finding out where these applications really are. They are not here in the Dock. These are shortcuts to them. That's why there are only a few applications here and you've got actually a lot more on your Mac probably. So where do they live? Well in the Finder, I'm going to create a new Finder window so we can browse through all of our files. On the left here, under Favorites, I've got a favorite for Applications that's there by default. This shows us the Applications folder.

Where is the Applications folder? Well I Control click here I'll see at the hard drive level there is a folder called Applications. That's where these are located. It's the same place that this Favorites shortcut takes you to.

Now unless you've done something special all of your Applications are here. It's possible that you could have installed some somewhere else by choosing some custom settings. Also if you go to the hard drive level and you look under Users you will find your user folder there and you'll your Documents folder and Desktop and Downloads and such there as well. You may also find an Applications folder here. Some applications ask you if you want to install it for just that one user or for all users on this Mac. If you say just the one user then it will put it here.

But for most people they would install all their applications here and anything you buy in the Mac App Store is going to, by default, install here. You can browse through all the applications here. You can do it in all the different formats. You can choose an application you want and double click it to run.

So, for instance, Preview which is not in the Dock here, I can simply double click it here in the Applications folder and it will run Preview.

Now it can be kind of cumbersome to always go to the Applications folder, look through this huge long list, and run the app from there. You can always add it to the Dock by simply dragging and dropping. So I'm going to drag it down here to the Dock and it adds it. It's still there. This is where all the applications actually live but you have a shortcut to it now in the Dock. Now I can run Preview from this point on by going to the Dock.

Now those are two common ways to launch apps. From the Dock or from the Applications folder. But there is another way. You can use Launchpad which you should find here in your Dock. You click on that and it shows you all of your apps. It looks like your Applications folder but the order is different. You can move things around here. This is very similar to iOS if you have an iPad or an iPhone. You can click and drag and move these around so you can put your most common apps at the top. There are several different pages of apps and actually you can use these buttons here or you could just use the trackpad with two fingers to go back and forth between them.

You can also Search. Search will search all of your apps really quickly. You can just start typing and it will narrow it down. So you can see how quickly you can get to Preview. As a matter of fact if I get just a single app right there I can just hit Return and it will launch Preview there without having to do anything else.

So Launchpad is a very handy way to launch apps and you will find all of your applications there as well as in the Applications folder.

There is one more very common way to launch apps. This is the way I actually use. You can use Spotlight. You've got the Spotlight icon up here. Click on that and you have Spotlight Search. Or use the shortcut Command Space and that brings it up. Then start typing anything. Now, of course, it is going to search and can bring up files, bring up emails, can bring up contacts, all sorts of things but it will bring up apps as well. You can see as I start typing the name of an app and it will bring it up and I can select it here, or actually just hit Return, and it will run the app.

So it is very easy to do Command Space and then start typing the name of the app and then hit Return. This is my preferred way for launching apps. I don't have to mess with going into Launchpad, I don't have to find the Applications folder, and I can launch all of my apps not just the ones that are in the Dock.

Comments: 3 Responses to “How To Launch Apps On the Mac”

    Maz McGreal
    3 years ago

    I hadn’t thought of using Spotlight this way, but shall in future. Thanks.

    Phil Husted
    3 years ago

    I, too, had not thought of Spotlight to launch apps. I have been using Launchpad. Thanks…it will be my new way.

    Jon Norris
    3 years ago

    And of course simply clicking on a file in Finder will open the correct app, or right clicking on it gives you a choice. Not Apples preferred way, possibly. I wish Spotlight didn’t produce so many web hits first, slowing it down, when I really want it to search my computer for lost files, notes, emails first!

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