Summon and Send

Last I wrote about LaunchBar, I explained ways I use it for opening applications on my Mac. Whilst this is something I do frequently, other more applied uses of LaunchBar are what endear it to me most.

Instant Send

Chief amongst these applied uses is Instant Send. It takes advantage of LaunchBar’s core competency of knowing myriad things to do with your Mac. Rather than just getting you to a destination folder or application, though, Instant Send picks up a passenger – files, folders or a bit of text – to take along.

With any of those things selected, invoke Instant Send by pressing a keystroke of your choosing (it’s off by default but I prefer double-Shift). LaunchBar hoovers up what you’ve got selected and places it onto the bar.

Once there, LaunchBar is mostly in the same mode as usual. It’s ready to search at a single keystroke, but with one difference: the Instant Send data on the bar will be passed on to whatever you launch with your search.

LaunchBar indexes so much of what you can do or launch on your Mac: applications, files and folders, Share Menu actions, Automator workflows and Services. It also has its own in-built actions and web search templates, to which you can also add your own.

All of these are options for where your bar item can go. Understandably some actions will only work with one type of input or another. You can’t send a folder to a DuckDuckGo search, for example. Because of these differences, I’ve split further explanation and examples into two groups.

Sending Files and Folders

When sending a file or folder, you’re initiating a virtual click and drag of the items to the destination. Depending on various factors, sometimes the mouse may be faster. Nonetheless, I still use these actions frequently:

File system operations

LaunchBar can do more than send to apps and actions. It can be used to perform tasks you might normally do with Finder or at the command line.

To get started, when you’ve got a file or folder on the bar, type with the intent of searching for a folder on your disk. To get to the root of your drive, type a forward slash (/) or for your home folder, type a tilde (~). You can further navigate through these or any folder by pressing the right arrow key.

Once the target folder is in selected in the bar, press Return to:

Sending Text

Text data on the bar can be more flexible in comparison to files. As a result, the possible destinations for it are numerous:

I’ve also got a few custom actions for searching a specific web site:


I cannot be certain whether I use Instant Send more with text or with files. What is clear, though, is that I use it a lot – 42% of the actions I take in LaunchBar are Instant Send. I shudder to think how lost I’d be without it.