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I want to switch apps faster than cmd-tab so I created an automator task to launch an app and linked to to a keyboard shortcut through the keyboard preferences. While this works okay without any third party software it is rather slow, not cmd-tab instant. Is there a fast way to switch to an app using a keyboard shortcut?

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I ended up getting Alfred's power pack and setup a hotkey there. It's much much faster than the automator service.

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It's not free, but you could try Keyboard Maestro and set up some macros. In fact, the first suggestion on their Example Macros page is to set up function keys to switch directly to your most used applications.

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Even on a very slow, older Mac, LaunchBar is blazingly fast for me.

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It does far more than launch apps, but that's the core function of the tool and it's low resource, rock solid dependable, and ready to grow if you want more features.

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Try Apptivate, it worked perfectly for me: http://www.apptivateapp.com

Especially liked its "quick peek" feature.

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