Keyboard shortcut to Launchpad on OS X Lion

By default when running OS X Lion there isn’t a keyboard shortcut to Launchpad. You could use a trackpad or a magic mouse, but what if you don’t want to buy one? Keyboard shortcut.

Launchpad is something I could use to avoid going to the dock for anything (Alfred has been updated and works with Lion). So if I don’t want to depend on Alfred (which totally rocks), Launchpad is great for finding an application when I forget it’s name or isn’t properly indexed by Alfred yet.

Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts. Click on Launchpad & Dock. You’ll see that Show Launchpad is selected but there is no shortcut associated with it. In a fit of usability awkwardness (very un-Apple), it’s not clear how to set the shortcut. Double-click to the right of the row below the dock hiding shortcut, and an input field will appear. Perform your shortcut input there (I chose to use CMD-OPT-L). It’s set and will trigger now.

I’m not sure what genius thought that double clicking into a white area would be discoverable, but there you go. Launchpad on demand.

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31 thoughts on “Keyboard shortcut to Launchpad on OS X Lion

  1. Matt Ritter

    I have a 2008 White Macbook. Very odd-I set the shortcut to F5 last night and it worked fine. Put my computer to sleep, and this morning it doesn’t work. I tried restarting and setting Launchpad to a different shortcut (similar to yours), and still can’t get it to work. Straaange. I’ll post again if I find a solution.

    1. Tim Prue

      Exact same issue as Matt. F8 seemed unassigned (despite showing Mission Control) so I set F8 to Launchpad and it works. That was yesterday and today it doesn’t work. So I switch round and set F9 to Launchpad and it simply doesn’t work. Strange.

    2. John Collins

      Here’s an even easier solution.
      System Prefs > Keyboards > Keyboard Shortcuts
      Choose Mission Control from the left column
      Uncheck “Show Dashboard” (F6)
      In the same column go up to Launchpad & Dock
      Check “Show Luanchpad” and double click to the left where it says “none”
      Hit the F6 key
      Voila! F6 will now launch Launchpad – a much more useful feature than using that function key to launch the Dashboard

  2. Eric Post author

    That seems really odd – please do let us know if you find a way out of that.

    Why when one holds down the Option key while in Launchpad do the icons jiggle? Just for fun?

  3. pvz

    That Option -> jiggle mode in Launchpad is just a shortcut to the “standard” jiggle mode, in which you’re able to move icons, delete apps, etc. You can get to the same place by doing a click-hold on an icon.

  4. Jakes

    Hi all,

    Not sure why you want to set a KB shortcut to Launchpad as you can launch it with a gesture on the trackpad. Kind of difficult to explain, but if you use your right hand and place your thumb and the following three fingers on the pad, then make a “pinch” move, Launchpad is displayed. Do the reverse and Launchpad is removed.

    The key assignments being lost is a strange one, good luck!

    1. Laura

      This is only helpful for those with multi-touch trackpads and who never use an additional keyboard. That also sounds like a pretty awkward gesture.

    2. Shaun

      I accidentally preformed this gesture many times but whenever I want to use it, I could’nt remember how. I just swipe my fingers like a madman to no avail.


      Awesome thanks for reminding me that the trackpad is so tight!
      I also like the option of keyboard shortcut as well… so this has been a very lucky and successful search result. peace.

    4. John

      AWESOME. Thanks for the trackpad tip.

      It’s super fun.

      And I also set a keyboard short cut just incase, but I don’t think I’ll use it that often now that I remember to use the trackpad actions.

  5. Hayo

    I have the same problem: the keyboard shortcut I set to launch Launchpad (F8) now starts mission control instead. Worked fine yesterday.

    Must be a real bug…


  6. Nefarious L. Solitario

    Hello all,

    I believe I have a solution. (Well it worked for me.) and this is it, Matt, you have a white macbook & the f5 didn’t work on your computer after reboot, I have a theory & it is this. Throughout every other iteration of macs, they keep changing what the function keys do, some are used, while others are left there a pre assigned function to your f5 key? There is on my macbook pro & it is for dimming the backlit key board. when I assigned f5 for launchpad, it at first wouldn’t work, then I pressed the function key & f5 (even though I only used the f5 as the shortcut) & it worked, I also have a bluetooth external keyboard from apple, (the new rev) while the f5 with the function key did not work on this keyboard just the f5 key worked fine on this bt keyboard as I had programmed the shortcut to be on the MB Pro. on the bt keyboard there is no preassigned function key to the f5 & therefor it worked, both keyboards have their functions already turned on. Haro, my f8 is play/pause on my bt keyboard as well as my MBPro keyboard. so I switched to f8 & the same result happened, now on both keyboards even though I programmed it for f8, because I have my function keys turned on it will not work without me pressing the function key as well as the f8 key. I decided to do another test, I broke out my old wind tunnel g4 keyboard which had no preassigned function keys as it was an extended version. above the key pad is where you had the media controls. f1-f15 were blank. I assigned f1, f3, f5 & f7 as the shortcuts on this keyboard as it was plugged into the MB Pro usb port. & this is what I learned…1. It worked just fine with out using the function key at all. 2. If you have your function keys turned on, press the function key as well as the desired key. 3. I switched it back to the f5 key as it has nothing assigned to it on my bt keyboard I will just have to remember to use the function key when I travel with out my blue tooth keyboard. 4. I used to love my old g4 wind tunnel keyboard, but I haven’t used it for years, & wow, this makes me love my bt keyboard even more!!! this one is big & clunky. my how times have changed. I know that this is long & drawn out, but I wanted to make sure all the bases were covered, I also rebooted my MBPro after every change, & the assigned f keys stayed true on every reboot.

  7. Shaun

    I was trying to figure out the shortcut to launchpad (if there was one) for the same reason: Alfred hadn’t indexed the recently installed app. Then I realized, duh! Use Alfred to open Launchpad.

  8. mark

    Go to system prefs, keyboard. Then click Launchpad and Dock. Then un-tick and re-tick the Launchpad option, double click in the white space to the RIGHT of that option (underneath the other keyboard shortcut) and a space will appear to put your own shortcut in.

  9. Marc

    I just installed Lion on my Mac Mini (2009 model) and with Lion 10.7.3 this method of giving Launchpad a shortcut no longer works. Double clicking where you SHOULD be able enter the desired short cut reveals the word “none” and it does not give you an entry box to add your shortcut.

  10. Marc

    Correction! If I clicked on the word “none” I did not get the entry box …. but when I clicked slightly to the left of the word “none” … THEN it worked!

    And since I’m using a white wired keyboard (model A1048) assigning F8 as the shortcut works very nicely.

  11. Brad

    Wow, that worked for me Marc. I had the same issue, double-clicking “none” had no effect! I thought Apple was trying to push me to buy a magic mouse or trackpad… Very odd place to click. You have to click almost a centimetre to the left of “none”.

  12. Milton

    I´m wodering if it is possible to assign a string of characters to the keyboard, for example my email, to put in the forms with s single keystroke ____??????

    1. cathmart

      I’ve been spending the day sorting and exploring after upgrading to OS 10.7.3 and indeed, that ‘change the shortcut’ line in Sys Prefs is tricky. It’s not at all obvious that you have the option to click into then change/add a shortcut. Hall – as they say – elujah! Merci bien ;)

  13. Randino

    Great, now how do I actually use Launchpad with the keyboard? I think it has no keyboard shortcut because you can’t do anything without using the mouse/trackpad anyway.


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