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Multiple, space-separated words and search shortcuts

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:30 pm
by Erunno
Since I've started using the LaunchBar 5 Beta I have been amazed how quickly it integrated with my workflow. But one things I'm constantly tripping over is the fact that every time I am trying to do a search containing multiple words LaunchBar interprets hitting the space key as a command and not simply as adding, well, a space.

Is it even possible to conduct multiple word searches in LaunchBar?

Another question I have is about the search shortcuts. From other web browsers like Firefox, Opera and Chrome I'm used to adding a specific shortcut for selecting a search engine (i.e. ggi for Google Images, ggen for Google, ggde for Google Deutschland, etc.). In LaunchBar I can only enter "Google" and then have to manually select the search entry I'm interested in from the list with search engines containing the word "Google". Is there a more convenient way to do this. Or would it be possible to add the feature to assign specific shortcuts in one of the future versions?

Best regards,
Erunno

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:53 pm
by ludwigschubert
I'm not entirely sure you fully understand the idea behind LaunchBar yet:
There are no multi word searches in LaunchBar. When you need, for example "Adobe Acrobat Pro" I just type AAP. Or ADAP. Or whatever comes to my mind, and LaunchBar will usually find the right thing. Plus, the database learns your habits, so the rate of first try hits will increase over time.

You can try this with Google Images: For me a single "G" brings up the Google search template, but a "GI" brings up Google Images search template.

You'll see, the really neat thing about LaunchBar is this smart recognition of what you really want from just a few letters.
BTW, to assign a specific abbreviation to a template (for example, G for Google Deutschland instead of the normal Google template), just select it about two to three times and LaunchBar will learn. Alternatively you can press ⌘⌥A to assign a completely custom abbreviation.

Re: Multiple, space-separated words and search shortcuts

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:29 pm
by beejay
Erunno wrote:the fact that every time I am trying to do a search containing multiple words LaunchBar interprets hitting the space key as a command and not simply as adding, well, a space.


I've never had a problem. If I want to do a Google Image Search for "toy trains", I just type command-space GIM space toy trains. No problem.

Is it even possible to conduct multiple word searches in LaunchBar?

Erunno wrote:Another question I have is about the search shortcuts. From other web browsers like Firefox, Opera and Chrome I'm used to adding a specific shortcut for selecting a search engine (i.e. ggi for Google Images, ggen for Google, ggde for Google Deutschland, etc.). In LaunchBar I can only enter "Google" and then have to manually select the search entry I'm interested in from the list with search engines containing the word "Google". Is there a more convenient way to do this. Or would it be possible to add the feature to assign specific shortcuts in one of the future versions?


If you want to use "ggi" for google images, then command space GGI, and Launchbar will select the most applicable entry. If this is not the google image search template, simply select it manual. This increases the signficance of that particular entry to the "GGI" shortcut. Do this a couple of times and ggi should bring the google image search up for that shortcut every time.

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:04 pm
by Erunno
Thanks for the answers. It's true that I obviously misunderstood how LaunchBar is supposed to work. I believed it supported boolean searches like Spotlight does while to my understanding the searched item has to be described with a continuos string. I'm not sure how much this limitation will have an impact on me.

Is LaunchBar supposed to be a possible drop-in replacement for Spotlight?

But I am slowly getting the hang of LaunchBar and how to make it prioritize certain search results.

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 7:35 pm
by ludwigschubert
Erunno wrote:Is LaunchBar supposed to be a possible drop-in replacement for Spotlight?


No, and that should probably be made clearer.

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:21 pm
by Dennis
It's important to understand that LaunchBar doesn't provide a traditional search interface like Spotlight (although you can launch Spotlight searches from within LaunchBar).

LaunchBar specializes in abbreviation searches. So rather than typing a conventional search phrase, enter some combination of characters that represents the item you're looking for and LaunchBar will interpret the input and offer a list of possible matches. For example, suppose you have a document titled "August 2008 Sales Report.xls" on your Desktop (or anyplace indexed by LaunchBar). You could type any of the following and probbaly find the document, depending on what else you have in your index:

"augsal"
"2008rep"
"agsare"
"augsr"
"08asr"
"08xls"
"asrxls"

Or even a simple "ar" or "a" if you specifically train LaunchBar or use the Assign Abbreviation (Command-Option-A) command.

LaunchBar is amazingly smart about guessing what you mean. And its algorithm is adaptive, meaning it learns from your habits and adapts accordingly. So if the document shows up in the list but is not the top item selected on the bar, just use the arrow keys to select it. Do this again, same abbreviation, and you'll see the document move closer to the top of the list. After 2 or 3 times, LaunchBar will learn that the abbreviation you typed should be associated with a specific document and will display that one at the top of the list.

Of course, you can type out the whole name if you want, but it's not necessary. Also, don't use spaces (e.g. "august2008salesreport") as the space key has special meaning. Besides, spaces aren't needed for LaunchBar to understand the input.

The huge advantage of LaunchBar's abbreviation search over a more traditional search is that it's extremely fast, it gets more accurate over time, and you don't need to remember the exact name of the item you're looking for.

However, LaunchBar is not really a complete replacement for Spotlight. There's some overlap, but the tools are really designed to do different things. LaunchBar doesn't index file contents, nor does it typically index as many items as Spotlight does. So LaunchBar's depth and coverage is not as expansive as Spotlight.

But LaunchBar excels at locating regularly-used items quickly, accurately, and with minimal effort. It's far better at this than Spotlight. Plus, LaunchBar has a variety of other features that allow you to manipulate the items you find and perform other common actions - capabilities Spotlight doesn't even attempt to address.

When you have some time, be sure to look over LaunchBar's help. There's a whole section on selecting items that covers abbreviation search, doing sub-searches, using categories, etc.

Hope this helps.

-Dennis