Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

General discussions about LaunchBar
jerrykrinock
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Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby jerrykrinock » Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:04 am

For many months, I've thought that there was something wrong with either my cmd or space key, because LaunchBar would only activate and show its window about 90% of the time. This has caused many errors in my work. For example, I've found text files that contain extraneous character sequences such as saf, which occurred when, apparently, I was trying to activate Safari with LaunchBar and instead, my keystrokes went into the active text editor app.

Although I understand compressed air is recommended, I was about to physically remove these keys on my mid-2013 13-inch MacBook Air last week to see if there was dirt under them, but realizing the danger, I got a better idea and instead installed KeyUp, a nice free app that makes a clicking sound each time you push a key down, available from Irradiated Software. After using it for a few days, I confirmed that there was nothing mechanically wrong with my cmd or space key. My keys click, and thus are apparently working, every time. They never fail. But LaunchBar does not always activate on the first cmd+space. It always activates on the second try.

I smelled the trail of App Nap, the feature which Apple introduced in macOS 10.9 to conserve resources, which puts apps to sleep when they are not in use. In the Activity Monitor app (/Applications/Utilities), if you click in its menu: View > Columns, you can turn on the App Nap column and see this at work. It will indicate Yes for LaunchBar after you have not used LaunchBar for a few minutes, then change to No immediately when you use it.

Aha, I thought, although the feature to control App Nap per app has been removed from Finder's Get Info window in more recent macOS versions, supposedly you can still do it with this Terminal command:

Code: Select all

defaults write at.obdev.LaunchBar NSAppSleepDisabled -bool YES

I did this, relaunched LaunchBar and after keeping an eye on Activity Monitor for 20 minutes, convinced myself that this command is successful in preventing App Nap. LaunchBar's App Nap column is always No and never switches to Yes.

But, unfortunately, disabling App Nap does not solve the problem. LaunchBar still often fails to always activate on the first cmd+ space, particularly if I have not used it in a few minutes. It always activates on the second try.

This issue is really a big negative in using LaunchBar. Has anyone else noticed this? Is there a fix?

I am using LaunchBar 6.9 and macOS 10.13 Beta 9 at this time. But this issue was present for many months when I was using macOS 10.12. It is definitely not a new issue with 10.13.
Last edited by jerrykrinock on Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

mot
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby mot » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:09 pm

Thanks for your post.

I'm mainly using modifier taps (e.g. Single Shift to launch LB, Single Command for the Snippets) but I also noticed that sometimes the first tap does nothing, whereas the second one always succeeds. Until now I thought that I was just too slow (if a "tap" is tapped too slowly it no longer qualifies as tap).

Knowing now that it is maybe not my slowness that is causing this, I will pay closer attention in the future. (I've already verified that my keys are working properly.)

BTW, your command line for disabling App Nap is missing the first part. I guess it should be:

Code: Select all

defaults write at.obdev.LaunchBar NSAppSleepDisabled -bool YES


– Tom

jerrykrinock
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby jerrykrinock » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:15 pm

Thank you, Tom. I ws not aware of Modifier Taps, however it's disappointing that LaunchBar is also unreliable with a different activation method.

I'd been wondering if maybe I've not been waiting long enough (although zero wait should be required) between hitting the command key and hitting the space key. Or maybe I'm not holding down the command key long enough. So I've tried doing it more sloppily during the second try. But the second try always works, no matter how sloppy I am.

And, thank you, I've edited my post to insert the missing program name into the command. I've still got no App Nap, but no solution.

mot
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby mot » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:57 pm

jerrykrinock wrote:[…] it's disappointing that LaunchBar is also unreliable with a different activation method.


Well, for the moment I would say that LaunchBar seems to be unreliable…

After a (quick) search on the forum I have the impression that we are the only ones who are observing the issue. This may be a pointer that maybe LB is not the only factor, and it is rather an interference of LB and another process.

Booting in Safe Mode is usually a good way to test this. But the issue is not trivial to reproduce, I can't even say after how many minutes of not-using LB the issue arrises. I have also the impression that I see the issue mainly when I'm invoking LB from the Finder (but I'm not sure). And my Finder is laggy sometimes, for an unknown reason.

What I'm trying to say: still many unknown variables in the game.

By chance, do you have a second Mac where you can reliably reproduce (or not reproduce) the issue?

– Tom

jerrykrinock
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby jerrykrinock » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:10 pm

Yes, certainly there could be other factors causing LaunchBar to behave this way. I'm still using QuicKeys. It looks like features added to LaunchBar in the last few years might make it able to replace QuicKeys. I should look into that.

Yes, I can test on another Mac, or on another Mac account. It's just time-consuming, as you noted. You need to "use it for a while" :( It may take me a few days to get to it.

Regarding us being the only ones to have noticed this, remember that it took me at least 6 months to identify the issue! We don't know how many other users are out there thinking that their keyboards are getting dirty and never thought to visit this forum.

mot
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby mot » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:22 pm

jerrykrinock wrote:We don't know how many other users are out there thinking that their keyboards are getting dirty and never thought to visit this forum.


If the issue makes people cleaning their keyboards more often … then it's a feature, not a bug :D

lsievert
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby lsievert » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:27 pm

I'm seeing the same problem, but to me, it seems as though it's worse when certain apps are in the foreground. MS Word is the #1 offender. Chrome is #2.

mot
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby mot » Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:28 pm

This thing is really hard to track down. Recently I had 3 or 4 days in a row where I haven't seen the issue not even a single time. With no system reboot before or after that period, and with varying usage frequency of LaunchBar.

– Tom

mjpw
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby mjpw » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:12 am

I began seeing this issue, exactly as described here, immediately after upgrading my MacBook Air to High Sierra. I contacted ObDev support. This is only a hunch, but I wonder if multiple desktop spaces/full-screen apps are a factor.

cdhutch
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby cdhutch » Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:33 pm

I have started noticing this recently. I'm running macOS 10.13.1 Beta (17B35a) and find that when using multiple desktops, the LaunchBar tends to appear on Desktop 1. When on Desktop 2, pressing Cmd-Space brings up the LaunchBar on Desktop 1, which remains completely responsive to keyboard commands. That is, I can type "Cmd-Space SAF", which launches Safari on Desktop 1, but I don't see that happen since Desktop 2 is active.

JimmyTheSaint
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby JimmyTheSaint » Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:26 pm

Yeah, it seems to only happen when switching out of certain apps and only in certain contexts. It really sucks, though, because it's amazing how much you can trash when you're a touch typist. For example, imagine you have a large region of text selected and then you go to activate LaunchBar only to find that you've now replaced that entire selection with junk characters. I haven't yet done anything that couldn't be saved by a cmd-Z or a quit-without-saving, but still. Even if the devs blame this on certain system behaviors beyond their normal control, I wonder if they can create some sort of "muscle mode" that will guarantee that LaunchBar will always activate.

JimmyTheSaint
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby JimmyTheSaint » Sun Oct 22, 2017 6:52 pm

I can reproduce the error consistently: whenever I quit the video player VLC after or while playing a video, LaunchBar will not recognize either its regular short cut or its modifier tap until I switch to another app via mouse click or cmd-tab.

mjpw
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby mjpw » Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:16 am

Though it might still have to do with multiple desktops/full screen apps, I have tried typing in an abbreviation "blind" after the first unsuccessful command-space, as if it might be active on an offscreen desktop, and it does not work. I have to type command-space a second time. I also have not heard anything in response to my support request.

jerrykrinock
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby jerrykrinock » Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:29 am

I never did get around to trying it on another Mac user account in the last six weeks. But I did notice that LaunchBar performance is good for the first 10 minutes or so after I log in. Then it quickly deteriorates and works poorly as I described in my original post.

Well, I've found a solution which does not explain the problem but works for me. I'm sorry that many readers will not like this, but my answer is: Quicksilver. I installed Quicksilver, set its trigger to ⌘-space, and in Launchbar, disabled this trigger. It took a few days to train Quicksilver's abbreviations, but in the past three days I've hit ⌘-space hundreds of times, and never had to hit it more than once.

Sorry for the bad news, folks. Goodbye LaunchBar!

JimmyTheSaint
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Re: Serious Issue: cmd-space does not always work

Postby JimmyTheSaint » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:15 am

I used QuickSilver for a long time, but I found LaunchBar to be better, not super-better, but enough to make me switch. As I recall, LaunchBar has the much faster interface, getting to what I need in fewer keystrokes. According to my notes, however, QuickSilver's functionality wasn't getting updated much anymore, and its menu items interface hadn't worked in years. On the other hand, LaunchBar doesn't fully index the one menu that I really want it to, namely my Firefox bookmarks. It leaves some of my most frequently used ones un-indexed, different ones on different computers, and I'd given up on the problem. Perhaps if QuickSilver gets that right, I might go back because this LaunchBar's failure to launch glitch presents a serious risk of overwriting and clobbering stuff for people like me who type fast.


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