Opus as Program Launcher in Windows 7

Windows 7 has dropped the Classic Start Menu. This is a real problem for me, because I have it all nicely configured in Vista so that I can get to most of my usual programs with two keystrokes. For example
WindowsKey, 1
gets me to Firefox, because I have dragged it to the Start Menu and renamed it as "1. Firefox", and
WindowsKey, O
gets me to Omnipage, because I have dragged it to the Start Menu as "O. Omnipage".

Some of the entries in my Start Menu are folders, not programs, and open another list of items. For example, all my Windows Contacts are arranged in 10 individual folders, and placed using Opus within an item labelled "Addresses" on the Start Menu, so that that I reach my "Relatives" Contacts folders with the three keystrokes: WindowsKey,(LeftQuote), R

My question is this. After I install Windows 7, will I be able to use Opus as a replacement Program Launcher? I can certainly do all that I want from within Opus, simply by creating on the top toolbar a new menu labelled say "&Launch" that has all my present Start Menu items with appropriate ampersands. Thus within Opus, I would then be able to launch Firefox by pressing
Alt+L, 1

!!! But is it possible to somehow "float" this "&Launch" menu button so that it can be accessed directly, rather than having to go through a lister interface? !!!

I would like to be able to type Alt+L, or something else of my choosing, as a universal hotkey from anywhere within the computer, and have the menu items displayed without any lister showing. In this way I would again be able reach my present Start Menu items with just two keystrokes.

Maybe such "floating" of a menu button is something that Opus may like to implement in a future upgrade. From the volume of complaints on the web about the missing Classic Start Menu, this may well be yet another excellent reason for people to adopt Opus.

You've been able to float a toolbar in Opus for years. It can easily be set up to bring up this toolbar with a global hotkey. This tutorial will show you how to setup a floating toolbar launched via a hotkey.

You can make toolbars float in -> options -> customize -> tool bars. Select your launcher toolbar, which you have to create first. In the right side settings you can check the "floating tool bar" box. You can also toggle it, let´s say it is called "launch", teh following code will toggle it in a floating position:

Toolbar NAME=launch TOGGLE LOCAL STATE=float

Absolutely brilliant - I didn't know that Opus could do this. Thank you very much. The flexibility of this software is extraordinary.

!!!One question remains!!! I've got everything working nicely except for the point about ampersand and shortcut keys.

I have provisionally set Alt+L as the system-wide hotkey for the floating toolbar, and I have labelled the first item in the toolbar
"&1. Firefox"
so that the "1" is underlined as the shortcut key.

When I press Alt+L the toolbar appears, but when I then press "1", nothing happens. I have to pick up the mouse to select the item.

How do I set up the floating toolbar so that the ampersands act in their usual manner to assign shortcut keys1?

Actually the "1" appears as text in the programme I was previously in, so the problem seems to be getting the focus to the toolbar. If I first right-click on the toolbar, then "1" does indeed bring up Firefox. So perhaps my question should be, "How do I set up the toolbar so that it has the focus when it is invoked?"

I'm not sure if you can give floating toolbars the keyboard focus, except by clicking on them.

If your aim is to have hotkeys to launch apps, have you considered using system-wide hotkeys? They allow you to type any hotkey (that isn't already used for something else) in any application and have it launch a program and/or run an Opus command.

Opus can set those up via Settings -> Customize -> Keys. When creating a new hotkey, make sure the System-Wide option is set.

As for Windows 7, it's worth noting that you can use Win-1, Win-2, Win-3, etc. to launch the programs that are pinned to the taskbar. You can also push Win and then start typing to search for start menu entries.

Also, you could assign Alt-1, Alt-2, Alt-3, etc. to your launch bar (depending on how many antries you have & if the shortcuts are available).

To expand on what abr said, set the actual hotkeys (and not just the & in the label) for the toolbar buttons to the keys you want. When the toolbar is floating, those keys will become global hotkeys and work no matter what program you're in.

Thanks, abr and jon, that's getting close. Your suggestion avoids using more than one system-wide hotkey - each one inevitably conflicts with something else, particularly on my wife's Toshiba.

The problem is that the procedure uses too many hotkeys that I want elsewhere in Opus (besides the minor point of having to press Alt as well). It would be far easier if some sort of addition could be made to Opus so that we have the option of switching the focus to the floating toolbar.

Such a focus-switching option must only be a minor change, because already right-clicking on the floating menu gives it the focus.

I also tried putting a pop-out menu on the floating toolbar. This is good because the focus then switches automatically to the pop-out. The problem here is that there is no facility to assign a hotkey to the pop-out menu.

This inability to assign a hotkey to a popout also mucks up the option of making some of the floating menu items into popouts with further menu items, as I presently have on the Vista Classic Start Menu.

To clarify:

If it can't be implemented at present, I'm suggesting that the STATE argument of the "Toolbar" command have a further value along the lines of
or possibly "Toolbar" should have another argument like
the intention being that the user can specify that the focus is immediately given to the invoked toolbar.

At present, it seems that the toolbar is invoked by a hotkey on the keyboard, then the command is selected by the mouse, which is all rather clumsy with the hands.

It's a reasonable suggestion - although Windows can make it hard to give focus to an app when it doesn't already have it. It may be possible to do something along these lines.

All strength to your arm. If Microsoft is going to do something as silly and disruptive as removing its perfectly good Classic Start Menu, that only gives Opus Directory yet another opportunity to show how powerful it is.

This has been fixed in the latest Illuminati version. The Toolbar command now has a STATE=floatactive option which forces the toolbar to grab the focus.

Wonderful! I'm now much happier with the prospect of upgrading to Windows 7. Thanks very much.

There are two small things, which could be better, though: the floating tool bar has the focus, ok, but why can´t the applications be selected & started by the arrow keys resp. ENTER key instead of having to have their own shortcuts? This would simplify the whole handling. Let´s say, the first app is selected by default & either it can be started by pressing ENTER or other apps can be selected per arrow keys or the space bar.

The other thing is, when i open the floating bar per short cut, i can´t close it via the same shortcut despites having TOGGLE LOCALSTATE. That´s not the case with integrated toolbars. Anyway, this new function is very handy.

Toggling it with the hotkey works. I think you need to remove the LOCALSTATE argument as floating toolbars are not local to anything; they're always global.

Ah, true

Toolbar NAME=Applications TOGGLE STATE=floatactive works now. But like i said, i still have to click the icons. I eliminated a lot of mouse work, & it would be nice to navigate arround using the arrow keys. I am using tons of shortcuts, & that would make any assignment of shortcuts obsolete. In a multi row tool bar even more.

[This perhaps belongs in Illuminati.]

I've now downloaded the beta version and implemented the floating toolbar to launch about 15 programs using the hotkey Alt+L. (I am still on Vista Home Premium.) Some as-yet-unsystematic entries in the toolbar are:
&1. Firefox
&8. Wordpad
&V. New Menu, within which is the item &B. Defraggler
It all works very nicely in the main, and is certainly enough for what I want, but there are indeed some problems emerging. Here is is my amateur-level account of the situation.

  1. What is STATE=floatactive doing in this beta version that is different from STATE=float? The command STATE=float has changed its behaviour, and is now sufficient to give the focus to the invoked toolbar, so that Alt+L followed by 1 now launches Firefox. I'm afraid I can't determine any differences in behaviour between the toolbar with settings
    Toolbar NAME="Launcher" STATE=float TOGGLE
    and the toolbar with settings
    Toolbar NAME="Launcher" STATE=floatactive TOGGLE
    This doesn't worry me, but it may wel muck up applications that others have designed.

  2. The toolbar is mostly not disappearing until after I quit the program that I've launched, whereas it should disappear as soon as the program is launched. At the moment, the toolbar is disappearing immediately after launching Firefox, but remaining until the program is quitted with all the other items. The behaviour has been inconsistent, however, and different buttons have exhibited different behaviour at different times, so I assume that there is some sort of bug. For reference, the commands I am using to launch Firefox (where the toolbar is disappearing immediately) are:
    cd C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox
    "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe"
    Toolbar NAME=*this CLOSE
    and the commands to launch Wordpad (where the toolbar is staying until I quit Wordpad) are
    "%ProgramFiles%\Windows NT\Accessories\wordpad.exe"
    Toolbar NAME=*this CLOSE
    This behaviour does not change if I click the item with a mouse instead of using the key that I underlined using the & character. It also does not change if I omit the cd command (which seems redundant, but I copied it automatically from the "Properties", "Start in" entry on the Windows Classic Start Menu"). It also does not change for programs that require User Account Control authorization.

  3. Now for some cosmetics. The look of the toolbar is set by a rather unsystematic combination of settings from "Customize", "Toolbar", and from the settings on each individual command.

A. When there are no icons on the toolbar items, I cannot left-justify the texts on the (vertical) toolbar. They are all centred within the line, which looks bad and makes it hard to read the underlined key that selects the item.

B. If I allow icons, by switching "Image State" to "on" in Customize" Toolbar, I can then select "Show label to the right" in the Command Editor for each item in turn, which left-justifies the text. The problem is, however, that there is far too much vertical spacing, and I can't get nearly enough items on the toolbar - this happens even if I select the empty icon. I'd prefer to have icons, but not if the buttons won't fit.

I remark that this over-supply of vertical spacing occurs to a lesser extent on all the toolbars of Opus, but never as much as here. There is no need for the vertical spacing to be any greater than it is within a lister set to "Details".

C. As abr says, the up and down arrows should certainly allow you to run up and down the toolbar and select that way with the "Enter" button. Similarly, the right arrow should open any menu on the toolbar. That would make its behaviour the same as the Windows Classic Start Menu, and consistent with normal Windows toolbar behaviour.

D. I ran into some inconsistent behaviour when setting up the toolbar's position and so forth. I found that adding the command POS=mouse, and then removing it again, managed to reset things so that I could deal with the toolbar settings as I wanted to, but this seems to be a workaround of some sort of bug.

E. None of the available options make the toolbar very pretty. Even after some judicious colouring and font-choosing, it still has a sort of clunky, DOS-like appearance.

Too many questions in this thread to keep track of reliably.

For 2, use @async: before the command if you don't want Opus to wait for it to finish. The different behaviour with some programs is because some programs automatically run as a background task and others don't.

I've now done this and it works. Thanks very much. That deals completely with point 2 on my list.