Call me crazy, but going all the way back to OSX 10.0 I’ve never used Apple’s Dock as an application launcher. I don’t keep my applications in it at all. I only use the Dock to show me what applications are running. Even pre OSX I’ve always used Dragthing, the king of all application launchers, to launch my apps.
I’ll probably always use Dragthing, partially because it does so much more than just launch applications, but recently I gave another application launcher, Trampoline, a try. I have to say… I’m really diggin’ it.
Dragthing is excellent for giving me access to every single application I own. Which is nice because I hate going into my applications folder. Trampoline’s approach is more about giving you quick access to your most used apps.
You basically put your most used apps (or documents) into Trampoline, and then with a quick key-command (option + space by default), you can bring up a circular launcher wherever your mouse is on screen. Just click the desired app, Trampoline disappears, and your application is launched. Although I have all the same apps in Dragthing, I do sometimes find it much handier to just call them up through Trampoline.
Trampoline isn’t free, but you can download and run it in demo mode without any restrictions. A license will cost you US $19.95, which is pretty reasonable for something you’ll use everyday.