Hardware

Let FARR make your Windows desktop easier to search

Stop wasting time switching from keyboard to mouse and opt for an keyboard-only interface. Discover how the Let Find and Run Robot problem can make your desktop search more efficient.

I think a keyboard-only interface is a much more efficient use of my PC time than having to jump back and forth between a keyboard and a mouse. That's one of the many reasons why Ubuntu Unity fits my needs perfectly. But if you're on a Windows machine, you can reach keyboard nirvana with a simple "donationware" program called Find And Run Robot (FARR).

FARR uses an adaptive live search function to make searching for documents and programs faster. The search happens in real-time -- as you type, results appear. As the results populate the search window, you can scroll down and hit Enter to open either the file or the application -- no mouse required!

You might be wondering how this tool could be useful to a business. It's simple -- efficient desktops make for efficient employees; this is especially true when dealing with programmers and other high-level workers.

Features

  • Ready to run, right out-of-the-box with no configuration needed
  • Highly customizable
  • Caches programs you launch for faster results
  • Dozens of built-in special alias commands for web searches and other operations
  • Plugins support for advanced functionality.
  • Low system overhead
  • Fully portable
  • Drag+Drop results from the result view
  • Right click to access file system properties or advanced functions
  • No file indices are used (results are always up to date)
  • Choose from dozens of skins
  • Full directory browsing
  • Live search filtering
  • Customizable toolbar
  • Automatic updating
  • Customizable hotkey triggers
  • Fully documented and actively developed
  • Completely free (donations accepted)

Installing FARR

  1. Download the installation file from the DonationCoder website.
  2. When the download completes, double-click the setup file.
  3. Allow the installation wizard to complete the setup.

Once the installation is complete, you will find the launcher in Start | FindAndRunRobot. Start the application, and it will immediately be minimized to the system tray.

Using FARR

You can start using FARR by hitting the Pause/Break key on your keyboard. When you hit that key, a small window will appear (Figure A). Figure A

From this window, you can also access the settings by clicking the far right icon.

Within the text area of FARR, type in a search string and watch as the results immediately pop up. It doesn't matter if the results are a file or an application, if you scroll down to the desired result and tap the Enter key, that result will open.

Once you click an item in the search results, that item will appear in the FARR search history. Any result in the history will appear when you open the app (Figure B). Figure B

A folder for FileZilla Server is retained in the history of FARR.

If you want to delete an entry from the history, right-click the entry and select Remove Item From History. From that same context menu, you can:

  • Add a scoring rule
  • Group with an alias
  • Ignore the item in future searches
  • Run as admin
  • Jump to directory in editbox
  • Explore here
  • Copy target path

Configuring FARR

To get to the Options window, open the search interface and click the far right icon. When the Options window opens (Figure C), you can look through the various configurations available. Figure C

There are plenty of options for those who like to get their fingers dirty.

By default, FARR is not set up to run upon login. To set this, open the Options window and check the box for Start Automatically When Windows Starts.

Another great feature is the abilty to use keyboard shortcuts to change the way an application or file opens. If you go to the Keyboard Interface section in the Options window (Figure D), you can change the hotkeys that act upon files. Figure D

Three hot keys to configure for actions against search results.

The actions these hotkeys handle are:

  • Launch and Stay Open
  • Launch
  • Show Shell Context Menu
  • Nothing
  • Show F&R Context Menu
  • Insert # into search Edit

These actions work like this:

  1. Open FARR.
  2. Enter a search string.
  3. As the results populate, each result will be associated with a number. Hit the hot key combination, such as Ctl-#, inserting the number associated with the desired search results in place of the # symbol.

By using these hot keys, it allows you to completely remove the mouse from the picture.

Using the aliases feature

FAAR's really cool aliases feature allows you to create aliases for searches. For example, you want to set an alias for browsers that will automatically pop-up browsers you have installed on your machine. Follow these steps for this simple example:

  1. Open the Options window.
  2. Click the Aliases/Keywords/Groups section.
  3. Enter Browsers in the Alias Trigger section.
  4. Open Explorer and navigate to the location of the browser executable.
  5. Drag and drop the executable into the Results text area (Figure E).
  6. Repeat above until all browsers are included.
  7. Click OK.
Now open FARR and enter Browsers, and the browsers you've included will appear, ready for you to launch them.
Figure E

Firefox and Chrome are included in the results.

As you can see in the Alias setup window, you can use regular expressions in the creation of these aliases. If you understand regex, dig into this, and you can really make searching a powerful tool on your Windows machine.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

1 comments
jswift
jswift

I like, but I have been using Launchy for many years now, and I still love it. If I get a free couple of hours I might give it a go, otherwise I will stick with Launchy. (Free, but I am sure they would love donations)

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