Could you imagine using a computer without having shortcuts? Probably not, and that’s why shortcuts play an important part in how we use our computers. Now what if there was a way to manage your shortcuts in a way that gives you the fastest access possible to all of the apps you use the most? 8Start is exactly that and more…
I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of application launchers before, but I promise that this one is different. Its goal is to put all of your favorite shortcuts at your fingertips.
–Using 8Start (Windows only)–
It took me about 15-minutes to get used to how 8Start works, and so I thought it would be important to explain a few things first. The three most frequently used terms are categories, groups, and buttons. Here are definitions for each (using the picture to the right as an example).
- A button is an icon, which is what you would expect. You can customize the size of the buttons just about any way that you want.
- A group is a collection of several buttons. In my example screenshot, “Browser” and “Games” are considered to be two groups.
- A category is a collection of groups, and they almost feel like tabs to me. In my example screenshot “General” is the selected category which contains the groups “Browser” and “Games”. Then “CyberNet” is another category that I could switch to, and therefore expose more shortcuts.
After I had that figured out, it took no time at all to setup 8Start the way that I wanted it. One of the best things is that you can configure a keyboard hotkey or mouse shortcut that launches your 8Start. Anytime that you bring up the program, it is displayed underneath the mouse, and that is the reason why this is so great. It minimizes the distance that you have to move your mouse to open your favorite applications.
Here are a few more screenshots of different categories that I created with smaller buttons:
Creating and arranging buttons in 8Start isn’t quite as easy as dragging and dropping stuff around, but it is still pretty convenient. The configuration screen has all of the tools that you need to create categories, groups, and buttons:
It’s also easy to add some of your Internet Explorer favorites to 8Start. I wish they offered the option to use Firefox bookmarks as well, but I’m not one to complain. :)
Once you get familiar with how the organizer works, you’ll probably be able to step up to the file explorer view. This is where you can drag and drop shortcuts from anywhere onto your computer and organize them yourself into the proper structure. If you have a ton of shortcuts that you want to organize, this method will be a lot easier:
When using the file explorer view, don’t get confused by the numbering scheme that 8Start uses, because all you have to do is drag-and-drop shortcuts into the proper folder. Then when you’re all done just hit the “Apply” button back on the Organizer. 8Start will automatically name the files in the correct format, and you don’t have to do a thing.
You can customize just one button, a group of buttons, or all the buttons in an entire category. 8Start offers a great interface for picking the size and layout of the button(s), so that if you want the text to go along with the icon that is a piece of cake:
There aren’t many settings to configure, but there are enough to satisfy most power users. You can do things like create a keyboard hotkey to use the middle mouse button for launching 8Start. Perhaps the best thing, however, is that you can choose which of your drives you want to show the remaining hard drive space for.
Lastly, there are a variety of skins available for 8Start so that you can make it fit well with the look of Windows. I went through most of the skins, but I found myself going back to the default because of its simplicity and classy look.
I haven’t been using 8Start very long, but I’m already getting it worked into my routine. It’s one of those apps that you have to remember to use, and after a little while it will become second nature.
If it becomes hard to use computers that don’t have 8Start installed, don’t worry, you can have it installed to a Flash drive and it will use relative paths to point to all of the shortcuts. So you can even use this as an application launcher for all of your portable apps!