File launchers -- programs that make it easy to launch applications or utilities from a few clicks on the keyboard -- are increasingly common Mac utilities. Although I don't personally use a separate launch utility (I use OS X's Spotlight), others here at TUAW have expressed their devotion to Quicksilver in the past. TUAW readers and bloggers have also expressed their love for Objective Development's LaunchBar. The company is furthering development of that application, and has recently announced the release of the beta version of LaunchBar 5.
This version of LaunchBar boasts a number of improvements, including a new application icon designed by Bonsai Studio, which is known for designing themes for RealMac Software's RapidWeaver.
Some of the featured improvements to LaunchBar 5 include:
• Clipboard: A clipboard history has been added, as well as adding items onto the clipboard without overwriting what is already on there.
• Quick Look and iCal support
• An improved calculator based on the Unix 'bc' tool, with the ability to be assigned to a keyboard shortcut.
• LaunchBar is now scriptable via AppleScript.
• Firefox 3 support, German localization, automatic software, and more.
LaunchBar 5 is not available for purchase yet, but you can download and enjoy and the beta until January 15, 2009. Single seat licenses will be available for € 24 (around $30), € 39 (around $50) and upgrades from previous versions will be available starting at € 9 (around $11). A license key for those who want to try out LaunchBar 4 during this beta period is also available. You need to be running OS X 10.4 or higher to use LaunchBar 5.