XLaunchpad review

XLaunchpad is designed to do one thing: Help you better manage your desktop. It does its job well, but keep an eye out for the toolbar that it tries to install itself during the installation process.
Photo of XLaunchpad

Windows users envious of the Launchpad in OS X  will find a lot to like in XWidget Software’s XLaunchpad. This free applications lets PC users customize their computer desktops using an attractive icon-driven interface that makes launching programs and opening folders a snap. XLaunchpad has a few quirksthe app crashed a three times in a few hours of use and it installs the Babylon Search Bar automatically if you don’t remember to uncheck boxes prior to installationbut it’s a solid addition to the Windows environment.

The Basics
Booting up XLaunchpad quickly places a handful of apps on your Windows 8/7/VistaXP computer desktop: Computer, Document, IE Browser, Control Panel, Network, recycle Bin, New Folder, and RasLink. The icon names are self-explanatory, but there’s one that needs definition.

“IE Browser” is the generic name for for the web browser shortcut. In fact, it remains “IE Browser” even if Internet Explorer isn’t your default browser of choice. For example, I set Chrome as my default browserand later Maxthonand the “IE Browser” icon stayed locked in place. Performing system reboots after each new browser selection didn’t change matters, either. It’s not a huge knock against XLaunchpad, but it’s one that should be noted.

The XLaunchpad Experience
XLaunchpad doesn’t dramatically alter the computing experience, but the app does streamline it. Clicking icons opens folders and launches programs just as it would in the traditional desktop mode, but I like having all my favorite apps and folders in one central, easy-to-reach location. XLaunchpad is its own desktop; any icons or files on the traditional desktop don’t transfer over. I didn’t mind that as it kept my XLaunchpad desktop very clean.

Drag any icons onto anotherbe it an app or folder shortcutand XLaunchpad places the pair in a single folder that you can name anything you want. You can remove items from the new folder by opening the folder and dragging the icon onto the desktop. It’s dead simple. You can, of course, delete any icon from XLaunchpad.

By default, a single click anywhere on the desktop returns the standard Windows look; a double click brings back the XLaunchPad interface. Right-clicking anywhere on the desktop while in XLaunchPad mode opens a menu that lets you customize the XLaunchPad experience by adding new shortcuts to the desktop (“Add”), altering the app’s layout, appearance, and general behavior (“Settings”), and the method by which you switch views (“Desktop”). Tinkerers will appreciate XLaunchpad’s flexibility.

Warning: XLaunchpad will automatically install the Babylon Search Bar into your default web browser if you aren’t careful to uncheck the approval boxes during the app’s installation. If you want to keep Bing, Google, Yahoo, or another search engine as the default, stay alert during the installation process.

The Wrap
If you want to give your PC a more Mac-like experience, download XLaunchpad. It doesn’t give you the iconic Mac dockthere are many other apps for thatbut it gives you a Launchpad-like experience at zero cost. Be mindful not to install the Babylon Search Bar and you’ll have a fine computing experience.

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Specifications
OS Compatibility Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7
Type Personal
Free Yes

Verdict
XLaunchpad is designed to do one thing--help you better manage your desktop. It does its job well, but keep an eye out for the toolbar that it tries to install itself during the installation process.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc