Making Mac Lion Launchpad Useful

For those of us that have been using Apple products long enough to know how to boot with extensions off we also have missed the days of the “launcher”.  I have found memories of Mac OS 7.6 with the Launcher – all of my programs neatly organized and useful.  For the last eight or so years I have used DragThing as a best alternative to the Mac Classic Launcher.  I still have all of my apps neatly organized into categories which reserves my dock for the most important programs like Mail and Safari.

I upgraded to Lion and was curious about Launchpad, the new iOS like program to organize all of my apps.  At first, I thought it was a good idea then the organizer in me kicked in and I immediately became frustrated.  Apple pre-builds your Launchpad for you with all of the applications installed on your computer. This is a literal use of the word ALL.  Every utility, uninstaller, helper app and other piece of junk found on your computer.   I have a Windows 7 install on my machine which exponentially increased the number of applications I have.  All of this rendered Launchpad worthless in my opinion.

To save the day I found Lion: Deleting apps in Launchpad, and starting clean. This simple set of instructions saved the day.  I did have to run each sql command by itself but it did achieve the same result.  Open up Terminal and run these commands.

> mkdir ~/Desktop/DB_Backup

[makes a folder on your desktop to back up the data files]

> cp ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db ~/Desktop/DB_Backup/

[copies the database]

> sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db 'DELETE from apps;'
> sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db 'DELETE from groups WHERE title<>"";'
> sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db 'DELETE from items WHERE rowid>2;'
[deletes the app records from Launchpad's database, and restarts the Dock process; you'll see  your minimized windows pop back to the screen.]
Then with a clean Launchpad  you simply drag each application you really want to the Launchpad icon in the dock and begin to organize.  I'll keep you posed if I have any negative consequences for doing this.

Launchpad, Lion, mac os x

Comments (2)

  • Thanks for this direct approach. Launchpad has been useless to me with mandatory entries that couldn’t be removed. Pages and pages of cruft 🙂

    I’ve also had a problem with the icons arbitrarily rearranging themselves virtually every time I open the damn Launchpad. I hear that this DB file can be permission-locked to stop the OS from modifying it at a whim, but it sounds mildly risky to adverse side effects.

  • Hi. I like the idea of Launchpad, but on Lion, it’s basically unusable. Only being able to select/move one icon at a time, it would take me a week just to move things where I want. Deleting everything and putting them in one-at-a-time as you show, is better, but I’m still worried that Lion will screw everything up the next time it detects a new app. Can you save your manual setup and restore it if needed?

    Also, without nested folders (which iOS also desperately needs) it’s just too much of a mess if you have a ton of programs. Does 10.8 fix either or both of these limitations? Thanks!

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