For the longest time I’ve been resistant to using any type of launcher for my applications. You may find, as I did, that you have to squint at an overloaded Dock if you don’t have a launcher solution. The “folder full of aliases” in the Dock method works well. Not elegant, not configurable, but workable.
I’ve just installed Trampoline and I’m amazed at how useful it has become in just 24 hours of use. I’m hooked. I’m currently using the default alt+spacebar hot keys to open the application on my MacBook Pro. Assigning hot keys appears to be quite flexible, which should allow you to avoid interfering with hot keys you may already have set. One suggestion in the fairly helpful PDF user guide is if you happen to have a three button mouse to set the third button to open it.
Trampoline opens right under your cursor, which is convenient, though can take a bit of getting used to. Where your cursor is on the screen determines how large the “wheel“ is when it opens. It can be a bit annoying when the cursor is close to the edge of the screen since the wheel opens at the smallest setting and sometimes off the edge of the screen. The developer knows about this but the UI functions a little inconsistently when attempting to move it into usable range. That issue aside, I’m getting a great deal of use out of it, having explored about 1/2 the setting options and keyboard commands to customize it. The initial default is set to grab all the apps from your Dock (docked and open) when the app is first opened. Once that’s accomplished you can clear out that overloaded Dock and keep adding more to Trampoline. You can put folders as well as applications in the items menu. When you click on a folder it will “bounce“ you to a new wheel with the contents of the folder displayed.
There are quite a few customizable features, it’s a snap to install and you’ll likely make immediate use of it, even just using default settings. The version as of this review is 2.0.3, requires Mac OS 10.4 and is a Universal binary. This is likely to be one of the keepers out of the myriad shareware I’ve been downloading and trying out recently and may just fill that app launcher niche for you as well.
Note: For a limited time a free version is available at http://macheist.com/ when you register and complete Heist 6.