Review: Pipy is a simple, unremarkable keyboard-based launcher for Windows
At a Glance
Pipy (free) is a simple keyboard-based launcher that lets you quickly start applications by typing their names, in full or in part. You can also use it to search your computer and the Web. If you think this description makes Pipy sound just like FARR, Launchy, or even SlickRun, you've got the right idea. And therein lies Pipy's problem: It is little more than a rehash of other software that's been around for years.
Since Windows Vista and 7 include a quick-search feature that's built right into the Start menu, keyboard-based launchers have waned in popularity in recent years. But these may suddenly become relevant again with the advent of Windows 8, an operating system that does away with not only the quick-search box, but the entire Start menu. Not everyone will want the Windows 8 Start screen covering their entire desktop every time they want to launch an application; for many users, a tiny launcher window may seem like a better option.
If you've ever used a keyboard-based launcher, you already know how Pipy works: Hit a key combination (Win+Esc by default), and Pipy's small input window instantly pops up on your screen. Start typing the name of any application in your Start menu, and the application's title quickly comes up. You don't have to start typing from the beginning of the name: "07" will bring up Word 2007. If there are several hits (such as the entire Office 2007 suite), they're displayed as a list which you can scroll through using the arrow keys—just like when using Launchy.
To search the Web, type "websearch" followed by your query. Once you hit Enter, Pipy will load the search query in your default browser. You can change the "websearch" prefix to something shorter using Pipy's Settings dialog. Just don't use "search": That prefix is already taken by Pipy's desktop search function. You can type "search" followed by any filename, and Pipy will search for it on your file system.
For local search, Pipy uses an internal database of filenames. It took a few moments to build this database on my system, but once it was ready, I was able to find a file by its name instantly. Because Pipy supports partial matches from anywhere within the filename, search often yields many irrelevant results. They're easy to filter, though: If you know another part of the filename, or even its type, just hit Space and type that in. For example, I was searching for a Word document which had "clay" in the name. Typing in "search clay" yielded irrelevant results like AcLayers.dll. Adding the word doc ("search clay doc") brought back the right result, instantly—even though it was a partial match in the form of a .docx file.
Internally, Pipy's functions are implemented as three separate plugins: Web search, local search, and the launcher. Developer Sketch41 LLC says that more plugins will be added in the future, to further extend Pipy's capabilities. Here's hoping these would be more innovative than what Pipy currently offers. In its current state, Pipy is perfectly usable but brings nothing new to the table.