I’ve tried a number of different Application Launchers for Mac, and my favorite by a huge margin is Drag Thing ($29 shareware with free trial and free updates), an amazingly customizable and easy to use application launcher extraordinare.
Using Drag Thing is a breeze – you simply create Docks, which consist of Tabbed Layers, and upon each layer you add whatever you want to launch – applications, documents, or URLs. Docks can be free-floating, or “pinned” to any edge of your screen, and can remain visible if you wish, or “slide” off the edge, like a drawer, leaving only the tabs visible and then slide back out when hovered over.
You can have as many Layers and Docks as you like, limited only by your screen real estate and imagination. Not being all that imaginative myself, I have just one Dock that contains 7 Layers. My “Home” Layer contains icons for Mail, iCal, Address Book, iChat etc, I have a Layer for Games, Multimedia (such as iTunes, GarageBand, iMovie, iPhoto, QuickTime Pro etc), Office (Word, Excel, Power Point, etc), WebDev (HTML editors, graphics apps, my FTP app, etc), and so on and so forth.
The real beauty of this application launcher lies in its ability to be customized exactly as you’d like it to be – not only does Drag Thing come with a number of nifty “skins” but if you’re comfortable editing XML files and modifying graphics, then you can easily create your own skins if you’d like to, and the developer has written easy to follow instructions for doing so. You can determine the number of Layers for each Dock, how many items each Layer can contain, the opacity level, colors, if you want text in addition to icons, the relative size of each Dock, Layer, and icon, and which direction they appear (horizontal or vertical), just to name a few.
I really don’t think that there is any other application launcher available that is as beautiful, customizable, and easy-to-use. Drag Thing is well worth it’s price and more!