The longer you own your Mac, the more software you’ll most likely load onto it and as you do so you’ll encounter more applications that want to load when your system boots up. Now if you’re one of these people who only ever ‘sleeps’ your Mac then this isn’t so much of a problem. Everything that’s in memory gets written to disk and just reloaded back to memory when you wake the machine up. However, there are those among us who do actually power off their Macs for whatever reason, and when you have a lot of applications all wanting to load on startup, then the boot process can leave you tapping your fingers while the Mac diligently loads up all these programs.
Sure, you know all the applications that launch on startup can be found in your ‘Login Items’ under your account in the System Preferences, and common sense says that if you just remove them from the list then your Mac will boot quicker. Problem there is you then have to manually load the apps later, and if there are a lot then remembering them all is a pain. Similarly you could write an Automator script to do the job, but you don’t need to thanks to Delayed Launcher.
Delayed Launcher is a simple free application that lets you do what it says on the can… delay the launching of chosen programs. By transferring applications that launch on startup from your Login Items list to Delayed Launcher, you can speed up your Macs boot time and then just let Delayed Launcher kick off your essential apps a bit later when things have quietened down. The premise is simple, you add your application to the Delayed Launcher list and specify how many seconds you want to wait before launching it. How simple is that?
First thing to do is to add Delayed Launcher itself to the end of your Login Items list. Right, the delay you specify on the very first item in the Delayed Launcher list is how long Delayed Launcher waits after it starts before launching your first application. In my example you will see that Xmarks for Safari is the first item in the list and has a value of 30 in the Delay column, meaning that when Delayed Launcher starts up then the first thing it will do is wait 30 seconds before launching Xmarks for Safari. Once it’s done that, it moves on to the next item in the list and again waits for the specified number of seconds before doing so. In my list you’ll see iDeskCal as the next entry in the list with a Delay value of 15. This means that after Xmarks for Safari has been launched, Delayed Launcher waits for 15 seconds before launching iDeskCal. That’s pretty much all you need to know, Delayed Launcher just works its way down your list waiting for the specified time before launching each item, and when it gets to the end of the list is waits a further 5 seconds before it closes itself down.
It’s all very civilized and you don’t have everything under the sun fighting to load itself up as soon as you boot your Mac, meaning you can get on with doing what you want to do sooner rather than getting the spinning beachball trying to load something while your Mac is struggling to load all your Login Items in the background. I should also mention that there’s a ‘pause’ facility, so while Delayed launcher is working its way down the list, you can pause the process and then un-pause it when you want to carry on.
Now there is a gotcha – isn’t there always… It’s not a problem with Delayed Launcher as such, but more the way in which apps that want to load on startup actually configure themselves. Let’s take Default Folder X as an example. It’s a great little app that enhances your file load/save dialogue windows under OS X. One of the options in Default Folder X is for it to launch automatically when you login (i.e. when you boot your Mac). So, you check that option and Default Folder X adds itself to your Login Items list, as you’d expect. Now you decide that you’d like to move it to your Delayed Launcher list so that it can be loaded a few minutes after you login instead. You remove it from Login Items and add it to Delayed Launcher and the next time you boot up all is well as Default Folder X gets launched by Delayed Launcher after the specified interval. That was easy… but wait. Next time you boot up, Default Folder X gets launched straight away even though Delayed Launcher hasn’t even got to it yet. Well that’s because Default Folder X has added itself back to your Login Items list and the reason is that because you configured it to launch on login, it goes and checks the Login Items list and finding it not there, it adds itself back. This isn’t the fault of Default Folder X, it’s doing exactly what you’ve asked it to do. Still, the workaround is easy – for any application that you can configure to launch at login, and that you want to move to Delayed Launcher instead, just un-check the launch/enable at login/startup option in the application itself. Job done.
There are of course a few applications that don’t give you that level of control and that will add themselves to the Login Items list whatever you do. The iTunes Helper app is a good example. Unfortunately you just have to leave them there as that’s how they work. But for those apps that will let you move them from Login Items to Delayed Launcher successfully, here’s a tip to make moving them easy…
- Right click the app in your Login Items list and choose Reveal in Finder.
- A Finder window will open with the chosen application highlighted.
- Now simply drag the highlighted app on to the Delayed Launcher window.
- Configure how many seconds delay you want before the app is launched.
- Remove the app from your Login Items list.
- Remember to tick the ‘Hide’ box in Delayed Launcher if it was ticked in the Login Items list.
There you have it. You can now boot your Mac and have it ready to do whatever you want to do more quickly, while all the other paraphernalia gets launched in the background – when you’re good and ready.
Delayed Launcher is free, and I couldn’t find a donate button in the help or on the Tao Effect website, but if you try Delayed Launcher and like it, then why not write about it, tweet about it or generally help get the message out there.