SnapFiles software portal has interesting RSS feed that they call freeware reloads. That feed features software that may not be actively updated lately or isn't well known… The common theme is they are all freeware, useful and very solid apps.
I was pleasantly surprised to see SmartStartMenu featured in that way because it is my favorite launcher and I was the one who suggested it to SnapFiles long ago.
Why do I like it most among the huge crowd of program launchers?
In my opinion there are three aspects that define good launcher:
- Smart placement - it's very important for launcher to be easily reachable but not intrusive. I dislike docks and pop-up launchers because they break this rule for me.
- High performance - no fancy interfaces and background indexing. I am careful with choice of apps I run constantly and those that constantly eat resources are not an option.
- Flexibility - I prefer apps that behave the way I want, not the way they are made to behave without settings available.
Guess what - that's exactly what I had found in SmartStartMenu and enjoying it since. :) It is typing launcher - you start typing name of program, launcher suggest you matching software from the index and when you got what you wanted you press enter. Easier to use than to describe.
Launcher is designed as taskbar toolbar. It impressed me as really unpopular choice (very few programs go this way) but excellent place for a launcher. It's close to Windows start menu, it doesn't eat screen space for windows, it's always visible… Smart.
Internal indexing is done at Windows startup. There is option to re-make index at any moment but it is rarely needed. Resource consumption is close to non-existent, there is even no process visible running.
Amount of customization is not huge but covers exactly what is needed - folders to be indexed, types of files to be indexed and specifics of making a match. I was most impressed with options of “most frequently used” and “most recently used” matching - nice for very different usage patterns.
Extras include Windows Run functionality and ability to type in paths with auto-completion.
Downsides come from the very same smart placement I liked - being Windows toolbar. It may be tricky to place SmartStartMenu exactly the way you want (especially in vertically positioned taskbar) and it is not portable by design.
Overall SmartStartMenu has pretty low “wow-factor” but it is excellent tool for getting work done.
Home&download page http://www.doxiware.com/products/smartstartmenu/