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ProgramLaunch is a simple and easy to use application launchbar for the Windows operating systems. Initially made as a tool to circumvent the annoying start menu, this third generation is completely redesigned from scratch to improve flexibility and performance and make everyday use of the launcher as comfortable as possible.

Managing the launchpad is simple and intuitive. Programs are added either through a dialog or by dragging links from Windows onto the launchpad. Organizing the programs is also done easily by dragging the icons and groups around. ProgramLaunch can assign one or more shortcuts for each icon. These are used for launching a program by one simple keystroke. If a shortcut key combination is assigned to multiple icons, a list is shown for selecting the which program needs launching. Modules can display detailed information using popup hints by hovering the mouse cursor over the image. Hints will fade in and out and update the information realtime.

The userinterface is constructed using a small skinning engine allowing a completely custom look. A few standard skins are bundled to start with. More skins may come later depending on the available developer resources. ProgramLaunch includes multilingual support, allowing it instantly to change all texts in the user interface to a different language. Only a few languages are available a the moment, additional languages can be added given some help for translating the texts.

  • Features
  • Changes
  • Screenshots
  • Downloads


This lists the most important features of ProgramLaunch Version 3.33.
Changes relative to the previous major release are marked with new and updated signs.

Simple and intuitive user interface skinned for an attractive look
Horizontal and vertical layout
Autohide controlled by mouse and keyboard
new User configurable hotspot areas
new Shortcut key for toggling autohide
Launches applications, documents and weblinks
Multiple shortcut keys are assignable for each icon
updated Use any combination of control, shift, alt and Windows keys as modifiers**
new Icon and group accelerator keys using the &-letter and optionally assigned automatic by the program
Batch support for launching several programs with one command
Shortcut key for focusing the launcher window
new Configurable previous and next group shortcut keys
Managing contents through dragging
updated Fast navigation through groups and icons using mouse wheel
Easy adding through drag'n'drop:
Shortcut files (.lnk/.pif/.url)
URL's directly from browsers
Modules with realtime information
Battery monitor
Analog clock
Recycle bin
Supports following icon formats:
updated Windows icons including Windows XP and Windows Vista format (.ico)
Extracts icons from program files (.exe/.dll)
Standalone Macintosh® icon files including OS X format (.icns)
Icons from MacBinary, AppleSingle and AppleDouble files
Macintosh® iContainers (.icontainer)
Windows bitmap format (.bmp)
JPEG and PNG formats (.jpg/.png)
Alpha transparency is used when available
Multithreaded updating of active modules
Popup menus on some modules with relevant commands
Fading hints on modules*
updated Optional fading hints with program titles or comments*
Multilingual support with the following languages as default:
updated German
updated Dutch
new Brazilian
new Chinese (simplified and traditionel)

*) Requires Windows 2000 or above
**) The Windows key only works in shortcuts not already used by the OS (such as Win+E, Win+D, etc.)

Version 3.33, November 12th 2008

Fixed broken drag'n'drop of programs and files to the launcher window
Fixed execution of shell objects (My Computer, ect.)

Version 3.32, November 3rd 2008

Unicode updates to support Chinese and similar languages
Added Brazilian and Chinese (simplified and traditional) languages
Added some missing translations
Added commandline option for selecting an alternate setting file. Default is -ini=path_to_program\pl3.ini
Added commandline option for selecting an alternate configuration file and icon cache location. Default is -cfg=path_to_program\pl3.xml
Added commandline switch for suppressing the about splash. The switch is -nosplash
Changed encoding of contents file (pl3.xml) to UTF-8
Updated the Dutch translation
Upgraded to Drag and Drop Component Suite 4.2
Upgraded memory manager to FastMM 4.90
Corrected execution of programs to support relative paths
Fixed translation of shortcut selections in the preference dialog. They did not reflect language changes until ProgramLaunch was restarted
Fixed small memory leak occurring when trying to load an image that does not exist

Version 3.31, July 7th 2008

Added additional setting for the autohide hotspot, allowing the edges to be controlled in more detail
Added preferences for controling menu shortcuts
Updated German, Polish and Danish translations
Fixed: Icon properties dialog clipped preview of large icon images rather than scalling them down to a viewable size
Fixed: Autohide didn't keep the window visible while the mouse was hovering inside
Fixed: Wrong tranlation in American and English languages
Fixed: Changing autohide edge and corner size didn't go into effect until ProgramLaunch was restarted
Fixed: Showing icon titles as hints wrongly displayed '&' signs in front of shortcut characters
Fixed: Popup list shown when multiple programs share a shortcut did not always size correctly

Version 3.3, March 31st 2008

Extended autohide mouse retrieval
Added corners as hotspots
Edge and corner size can be configured
Selection of active hotspot areas
Added configurable shortcut for toggling autohide
Pressing shortcut will instantly hide or reveal the launcher
If the launcher isn't hidden but not active the shortcut will work like the focus shortcut
Added delayed show after autohide
Extended mouse wheel support to allow icons to be scrolled
Added options to control the mouse wheel scrolling
Select group, icon or no scroll
Choose a key that toggles scrolling between groups and icons
Select whether scrolling wraps arround on groups and icons
Added support for the Windows key
Note: Partial, does not work correctly with keys already taken by the OS (Win+E, Win+D, etc.)
Added configuration of previous and next group shortcut keys
Added shortcut for icon properties (Alt+Enter)
Added shortcut for group properties (Shift+Enter)
Added support for icon and group accelerator keys using &-letter
Added optional automatic accelerator key assignment
Added doubleclicking in the preference dialog modulelist for easier activating/deactivating of modules
Extended icon stretch control allowing icons only to be stretched when too large
Updated icon loader to support png and bmp format Windows Vista icons
Added optional icon comment that can be shown in as a hint
Changed range for hint position to 0-150% and set new default to 100%
Changed memory manager to FastMM 4.78
Fixed: Keyboard down key in module menus
Fixed: The last shortcut defined in the launcher was ignored and did therefore not start the given application/document
Fixed: Hints would not appear without fading hints being on
Fixed: Icons added usign drag'n'drop to other groups than the selected shows up initially as unknown
Fixed: Application hangs when the recycle bin is being deactivated

Version 3.2, April 9th 2006

Added autohide feature to the launcher window
Added batch support for launching several other programs with one command
Added support for a vertical launcher mode
Added new alignment commands centering window on left or right screen edge
Added menu command for toggling the autohide
Added default image used when icon loading fails
Added some missing translations
Extended default skin with additional vertial layouts
Reorganized some of the settings
Minor skin optimizations and fixes
Fixed: Hint display when dragging a icon to an other group
Fixed: Hint position when selecting item that scrolls list
Fixed: Hides hints when moving window through the caption
Fixed: Runs on older Windows versions with limited hint display

Version 3.11, January 26th 2006

Added support for standalone Mac icon files (.icns)
Added support for Mac iContainers (.icontainer)
Optimized Mac icon reader
Icon titles can now be hidden in the list and shown through hints instead
Minor change of icon preview in icon properties dialog
Minor changes in alignment of module icons to match program icons better
Added option to control where hints are displayed
Added additional error checks in modules to avoid posible hangups
Fixed: Handling of relative paths in the icon properties dialog
Fixed: Reordering icons launches selected program when "Single launches" is checked
Fixed: Error when clicking and doubleclicking in the window ("Index of out bounds (-1)")

Version 3.1, December 23rd 2005

Implemented multithreaded updating of active modules
Changed module engine so only visible modules are loaded into memory
Changed calender module graphics, reducing size of resources required
Added custom popup menus on some modules
Added fading popup hints for all modules (Requires Windows 2000 or above)
Added analog clock module with optional second hand
Added recycle bin module with commands for open and empty
Added more calender image packages in different colors
Added fading of outer items in iconlist when scrolling is active
Added shortcut key for focusing the launcher window
Added on-the-fly save of configuration changes
Icon editor dialog now starts filebrowser in program/icon folder with current program/icon selected
Added shortcut in filebrowser allowing fast access to an icon folder
Changed the iconlist scrollbar appearance slightly in the icon editor dialog
Removed unused module parameters
Fixed: Problems with view and preview toolbuttons in browser dialog
Fixed: Switching between modules in preference dialog discard changes made on all but last module
Fixed: Lock movevement and lock resizing settings were inverted and swapped
Fixed: Missing translations in the icon editor dialog and on the module preference page
Fixed: Screen snap menu command wasn't working
Fixed: Hitting enter when no icon is selected results in an error
Fixed: Clicking next to icons or trying to move window causes error when "Singleclick launches" is checked

Version 3.0, December 9th 2005

Initial version


Main window


Popup hints

ProgramLaunch Installer

ProgramLaunch Installer

Version 3.33
Size: 3.2 MB



Version 3.33
Size: 3.8 MB