App switching by typing first few letters of app name?

Is there a program that lets you switch between open apps simply by typing the first letter or two of the app’s name?

I don’t want to use Spotlight for that purpose because it is way too slow… takes a few seconds to generate a whole bunch of stuff I don’t need. I want instantaneous switching just between open apps.

Anything like that out there? Thanks.

Why not use CMD + Tab?


Alfred loads much faster than Spotlight and will do this for you out of the box. Raycast is also faster than Spotlight.

If you don’t use the right cmd key, rcmd will switch to most apps with just one letter (and is configurable.)


rCMD is what you’re looking for.

@cornchip how does one switch to process in Alfred?


Just like in Spotlight, but Alfred doesn’t have the second of delay that Spotlight has while it loads information.

E.g., this appeared instantly and I only had to bother to type the B because Tana is also installed.

I’ve used Keyboard Maestro and its “conflict palette” – it takes some setup, but works great.

You just create simple macros to launch each app you want to launch this way, and then assign all of them the same keyboard shortcut. When you hit the shortcut, it gives you a list of the macros you created. Because they’re all identical except the name of the app that gets opened, you can just start typing the name.

It’s easier to do than to explain. Even with a few dozen apps set up this way, it never took me more than a couple keypresses to get the one I wanted. In a few cases I altered the name of the macro to fit better with my brain (eg, “Open fFirefox” because for some reason its easier to hit ff than Fi, and Fi was already in use for Finder.

As for why not Cmd-tab… it only includes open apps. If you have a lot of apps open, it’s easy to overshoot. And apps move around in the Cmd-tab function. By contrast, Firefox is always the same keystrokes every time, even if it isn’t open.

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Raycast, Launchbar and Alfred are the three best options, IMHO.


I’m not sure how static your open apps are, but for me, I just mapped Chrome to F1, Visual Studio Code to F2, and Obsidian to F3, because those are the tools I use all day, every day. Nothing beats one key switching.


I use hotkey Codenuts . Another way to map apps to a key stroke.

If the app is not mapped to hotkey I use Raycast. Although @cornchip suggestion of rcmd looks interesting.

If switching between open apps is the use case then @cornchip ‘s suggestion of’ rcmd is the app you want.

For example, yesterday I had BBEdit, iTerm, and Safari open, with Safari in a different space than the other two. Clicking rcmd-b, rcmd-i, and rcmd-s would immediately jump to BBEdit, iTerm, and Safari respectively. With no prior setup required.

Specific key combinations can be setup for apps you use often, i.e. rcmd-S could be set to Safari and launch Safari if it is not open. I use Alfred for this use case, and rcmd to bounce between open apps.

@Nick 's suggestion of Hotkey is also a good one. It is a simple app that allows one to assign a keyboard shortcut to open an app. And it is free.


rCMD’s perfect. Thanks.

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I have simple workflows in Alfred to launch apps with hotkeys. Much faster than alt-tabbing.

What hotkeys do you have set if you don’t mind sharing?

I do that as well, combined with a Hyperkey.


  • Hyperkey + x = Xcode
  • Hyperkey + m = mail (Fastmate)
  • HyperKey + e = editor (Visual Studio Code)
  • HyperKey + c = console (iTerm 2)
  • HyperKey + v = Preview

How are you doing that?

All use ctrl-opt-cmd and a letter for the app. E.g., Safari would be ctrl-opt-cmd-S. It’s mostly a two-handed operation, but still faster than alt-tabbing. Ymmv, of course.

can be done using software like Keyboard Maestro or BetterTouchTool.

I’ve settled with Fn + single letter.