LaunchBar offers a peek inside the parcel

The last piece on LaunchBar’s Instant Send feature focused on the actions that could be taken by using LaunchBar as an intermediary between apps or the file system.

In that piece, the right arrow key only got one passing mention. To be fair, it’s worthy of a bit more. This key can reveal information. Specifically, metadata and further data derived from it, based on the data on the bar. It isn’t a feature of Instant Send as such, but that’s when I find I use it most often.

What the key does, as with other situations in LaunchBar, depends on what type of item you’ve got on the bar. At times just pressing the right arrow key bare – with no additional modifier – will reveal plenty. In other cases, holding down the Option key whilst pressing the right arrow will be more useful.

Text Revelations

I find when working with most text, using the Option modifier gives the most useful information. Holding it down whilst and pressing the right arrow key reveals statistics about the text: number of lines, sentences, words and characters. The bare key often gets too granular too quickly for my uses.

One type of text data is treated differently: URLs. LaunchBar can recognise them and use them in relation to data in its index. Pressing the bare right arrow will show the Host line. Using the arrow key on this line, again bare, will use your browser history and list pages you’ve visited at that site.

File and Folder Revelations

Using the right arrow key on a file reveals metadata about the file: name, size and creation and modification dates. The full path to the file is also displayed (copiable with Command-C). Also note that if examining a text file, you can get the same information as detailed in the text section above using the ‘Plain Text Contents’ entry.

As mentioned in the Instant Send article, pressing the right arrow key on a folder will begin browsing its contents. (The left arrow key will show the item of its parent folder.) To get the same information as a file, use the Option key whilst pressing the arrow key.

I would encourage you to explore with the options afforded by using the arrow key and modifiers (try using it with the Command key). There’s so much hidden behind that unassuming interface.

16 May 2019