Update: 14 December 2021:
John, a kind reader of this blog emailed me to correct the record regarding the age of these apps. I imply below that Quicksilver predated Launchbar when in fact Launchbar is the oldest of the crop. In my usage, Quicksilver was the first King - it was my gateway drug to this application category. But Quicksilver was not the first.
A few days ago I noticed that Launchbar was consuming excessive CPU cycles on my iMac. I quit the app and relaunched. Same thing. I rebooted my Mac. Same thing.
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I went to the website of Alfred, downloaded the app and purchased the Powerpack immediately.
After perhaps a decade(?) of daily use I was over Launchbar. For the last few years it had seen very little development. The developer was showing it no love - no blog posts, no forums or user community, and its attempt to copy the Alfred ‘workflows’ feature had fallen flatter than a pancake. Now, I couldn’t even rely on it being an efficient system application.
So I threw my years of muscle memory in the bin, and I’m working with Alfred from this point forward. It’s different - and I’ve had to tweak a few settings to align with my view as to how an app launcher should work - but it’s working. The main adjustment I had to make was to allow for arrow keys to traverse the file structure.
My main frustration is that it doesn’t seem to automatically include files and folders in the default search when the trigger keys are depressed. Instead I have to type a space to enter into file search mode. I see in the preferences that you can include these in the default search, but the app includes text that seems to be warning me off doing that.
It also doesn’t have the instant-send feature of Launchbar. While that was neat, I didn’t use it so often that I desperate miss it. It was a nicety, but I can live without it.
What I can report about Alfred is that it works without fuss. It is currently using 0.2% of CPU time. It lets me search and act on files. It is fast.
Launchbar has been the reigning King since it took crown from Quicksilver. It has now passed the throne to Alfred. Long may it reign.