Do you access the programs on your Mac by placing your Applications folder on the Dock? If so, you'll find the free AppMenuBoy
application from Google to be a small but handy improvement on this process.
Every now and then Apple does away with something truly useful when they upgrade the Mac operating system. Don't get me wrong, I think Mac OS 10.5 (aka Leopard) is a wonderful OS that included many improvements, but I was immediately disappointed with the loss of the ability to get to and open any program on my system with a single click from my Applications folder on the dock when I first installed Leopard.
Like many Mac users I was used to having an appearance of my Applications folder residing in the Dock that I could click on to see a pull-down menu (or "pull-up menu" if your Dock is on the bottom of your screen) of all my apps. This provided easy, single-click access to open most programs on my Mac.
Leopard initially provided two new view types that could be used when clicking on a folder that had been placed on your Dock, Fan view and Grid view, but there was no longer a List view that allowed us that familiar single-click access to your Applications. While the new Fan view was kind of cool eye-candy (if you didn't have too many items in the folder), most people including myself found it unfriendly for actually opening files or programs. The new Grid view is also very visually appealing, but it still required you to move your cursor into a second window and perform another click to open a program. Not an improvement in my book.
Apple heard the complaints about this change loud and clear, and in a later release of Leopard (10.5.2) they added back in a List view option. But in the meantime I found and fell in love with this free little helper app called AppMenuBoy from Google. Not only did it replicate the single-click access to my programs that I was used to, it improved on the process by looking into any sub folders that housed a program inside your Application folder, and pulling the actual application out into its list.
Many Mac programs automatically install themselves into a sub-folder in your Applications folder, with this sub-folder containing things like a Read-Me file, license info, and other ancillary items. When using the normal List view with your Applications folder placed on the Dock, those sub-folders appear just as what they are, a folder that you then have to navigate down another level into to open the actual application.
AppMenuBoy solves that problem by analyzing the folders inside of your Applications folder and pulling out any single applications to the top level. Granted, it's a small and subtle improvement, but I've really come to appreciate the little bit of smarts that AppMenuBoy applies to these kind of sub-folders. If a sub-folder contains a single application, you won't have to look at or navigate through to it's sub-folder with AppMenuBoy, since it recognizes the application and pulls it out to its top-level menu. It doesn't do this for folders with multiple applications (that would be a nice future enhancement).
AppMenuBoy isn't the only cool Mac software coming out of Google these days. Check out the Google Mac Developer Playground for lots of other neat Mac applications.
AppMenuBoy is a simple little app that isn't going to drastically change your computing life, but sometimes it's the little things that can put a smile on your face and improve your day. AppMenuBoy is one of those handy, helpful programs that makes working on a Mac just a little bit easier.