How to Launch an App from Mac’s Launchpad

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

If the app you want to open on your Mac isn’t stored on the Dock, you can go to Launchpad, which shows all apps that are in the Applications folder. Click the Launchpad icon (which looks like a rocket) on the Dock.

If you removed the Launchpad icon, press the shortcut key (F4 on newer Apple keyboards or Control+cmd+L), to open Launchpad, as shown in this figure. If you use a trackpad, with three fingers and your thumb slightly open, place your fingers and thumb on the trackpad and bring them together as if you were to pick up a small object.

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Voilà! Launchpad launches. (There’s no default mouse equivalent although if you have a multibutton mouse, you can assign that function to one of the buttons.)

Launchpad shows all the apps that are in the Applications folder, using multiple screens depending on how many apps are installed on your Mac. That means all the apps that came with your Mac and all apps you install have an icon on Launchpad.

Each Launchpad screen can hold between 35 and 40 apps or folders, depending on your Mac’s screen resolution. Each folder can hold up to 32 apps. You can have multiple Launchpad screens. To move from one Launchpad screen to another, hold the mouse button and move the mouse left or right, swipe left and right with two fingers on the trackpad, or use cmd+→ or cmd+←.

To open an app, just click the app icon on Launchpad, and the app opens.

To leave the Launchpad without opening an app, simply click anywhere on the background or press Esc.

You can do the following to manage the appearance of Launchpad:

  • Click and drag an icon to move it on Launchpad; drag it to the very right or left edge to move the icon to another screen. You can move only one icon at a time.

  • Click and drag one icon over another to create a folder that holds both icons, and then drag other icons into the folder. Click the folder once to open it, and then double-click the name to highlight the name and type in a new name. To remove an icon from a folder, just drag it onto Launchpad.

You can drag an icon from Launchpad to the Dock to add the icon to the Dock.