In this economy, everybody is trying to get more for less, but should you be concerned about conserving clicks? No, don’t be silly. Regardless of that, here are some services that might come in handy for other reasons: you can create a shortcut that will open multiple programs or generate URLs that will link to multiple websites with a single click.
Lacuna Launcher is a small executable, smaller than half a megabyte, that simply reads from a plain text list of applications and launches them sequentially with some time in between.
You simply make a list in Notepad of the paths to the applications you want to launch or paths to shortcuts that launch the application. You would want to use a shortcut’s path in any case where command line parameters are passed. For example, I might use Lacuna Launcher to fire up all my browsers at once so I can do some web testing across browsers. Below I have the list that I use. Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer are all listed on their own line. The Chrome and IE paths point to their executables while Firefox goes to a shortcut on my desktop which specifies my Firefox profile.
You then just create a shortcut with a target like the following:
"C:UsersAdministratorDesktoppoweruserll.exe" "C:UsersAdministratorDesktoppoweruserweb.txt" 30 10
This shortcut points to the Lacuna Launcher executable that I downloaded from the App’s Apps site and then passes in the path to the text document that we just made pointing to which applications should run. After that, the 30 and 10 indicate time between starting. When you first run this shortcut, it will wait 30 seconds to launch the first application and then it will wait 10 seconds in between each sequential application. Why would you want to delay your applications from starting up? This would allow them to each start up (relatively) independently instead of fighting each other for resources at the exact same time. For an older computer that seems to take a long time to start up after logging into Windows, a shortcut with Lacuna Launcher could replace all those startup entries and make everything go smoother by putting them in a sequential order.
All of the following services allow you to consolidate multiple URLs into one. Each service has a slightly different approach to the various aspects involved, so we’ll highlight those as we go.
Fur.ly has a nice, simple interface for you to add URLs that you want to include. The site starts with a blank lines for you to enter the the web addresses and when you enter something in, another line will appear. This continued on until I stopped entering URLs at over 40 entries.
When you’re done entering URLs you want included, click the Go button to create your single link. This will take the form of fur.ly followed by a short hash, so it’s perfect for limited services like SMS and Twitter.
For this example, I generated this link: http://fur.ly/7s1
Upon visiting the link, you see the first site along with a toolbar at the top. The toolbar allows you to open the page in a new window, navigate between the other links, and view some quick statistics (like number of views). I’m not a fan of the toolbar because it takes over the title, URL, and favicon of a window/tab and doesn’t open all of the links simultaneously.
Krunchd has a similar interface to Fur.ly except you start with 3 lines and you can manually add more lines by hitting the “Add another URL +” link. You are also limited to 30 URLs with Krunchd. You can generate your own code for the link if it isn’t already taken, perhaps something descriptive of the links. If you want just random letters, leave the box blank when you generate the link.
Beyond that, you can optionally enter an e-mail address to manage this collection in the future. You are then required to enter a Title and can optionally enter a description and tags of the collection. After that, correctly enter the CAPTCHA and hit the ‘Krunch It’ button.
This will generate your URL like this: http://krunchd.com/bf522
When you visit the URL, you’ll get a similar toolbar as fur.ly, but Krunchd has a taller toolbar. In this extra real estate, it provides you with a number of quick links to social sites where you can share your collection of links. You can then use the arrow buttons to navigate from one link to the next. After you move to a new page, you can then choose to open the link in a new window. Similar to fur.ly, the Krunchd toolbar takes over the title, URL, and favicon of the tab/window.
1link.in provides a little change of interface here as they offer just one big text box that you can fill with URLs at one per line. You can also use a password so that only individuals with the password will be able to access your collection of links.
In my example, I generated this link: http://1link.in/sddgj
If you visit the link, you are taken to a 1link page that previews what URLs are contained in this link and provides a big ‘open’ button. If you click the button, all the links will be opened in new windows/tabs (depends on your browser/settings). If this link were password protected another screen would have come up before this, prompting for the password and would then lead to this same page.
Clicking the ‘open’ button will greet you with a prompt: Are you sure you want to open all links?
If you say no, nothing happens, but if you say yes, then all the links will open in new tabs and the 1link.in page will remain open. This is definitely my preferred style as I don’t like being “trapped” inside the toolbar approach.
LinkBunch is almost identical to 1link.in. You’re greeted with a large text box where you can enter the URLs one per line and then ‘Bunch’ them together in a shortened URL.
For this example, this link was generated: http://linkbun.ch/f26d
Following this link takes you to a LinkBun.ch preview page similar to 1link.in where you just click the ‘Open entire bunch’ link. After answering the prompt ‘Are you sure you want to open ALL links?’ with a ‘yes, it then opens all the links in new tabs/windows while the original page remains open. The preview page is a nice feature because it allows you to know where you’re going before you visit the actual content but at the same time I wish it could be skipped. A nice feature might be nice if you could tack on a plus sign (+) at the end of the URL to have it open all the pages immediately. I believe there are some GreaseMonkey scripts out there that will let you jump ahead.
A Few URLs is actually an old service that was created as an add-on to a previous version of Mozilla Firefox, or so I gather. The site I linked to is currently in a broken state, it will display the HTML code instead of properly rendering the page. Regardless, that doesn’t stop us from using the service. You simply need to compile a link like this:
MultiURL is probably the fanciest service out of those listed here in my opinion. It takes a more classic interface and combines a lot of the features of the other services. You can add one line at a time with a name for each URL or switch to batch mode to have the large text box option to add a URL per line. With MultiURL, you’re limited to 50 URLs in one MultiURL, but you can optionally add a name, alias, and password for the collection. You can also create an account, which will allow you to manage your collections after they’ve been generated.
With MultiURL you don’t get just one link, but instead you get three. You also get a nifty statistics page to see how many clicks each link is getting. The tracking part is another good reason to sign up for an account. You can bookmark the statistics page where the links are generated, but if you lose that URL good luck getting it back. The stats page is its own hash and doesn’t seem to correlate to the shortened public URL, for privacy reasons I assume.
If you’d like to send the collection of URLs as the toolbar version, send the link with the /g/. From this example, it would be this link: http://www.multiurl.com/g/05w
The nice thing about the MultiURL toolbar is that it has a button, in addition to the ‘open link in new window’ button that the others had, to open all links in a new window.
If you’d like to send the URLs as a list, send the link with the /l/. From this example, it would be this link: http://www.multiurl.com/l/05w
This page is very simple but keeps the essentials: it previews the links, allows you to share the collection with other sites, and you can open all the links with the click of the same ‘Open all links in a new window’ button as the toolbar rendition.
If you’d just like to send somebody to one of the pages in the collection randomly, send them the link with the /r/. From this example, it would be: http://www.multiurl.com/r/05w
While Lacuna Launcher is the only service listed to open multiple files and programs at the same time, it does the job quite well. Besides writing your own simple batch script, it’s a great solution to needing to open many related programs and simplifying the mess of Windows startup files. For creating links that point to multiple webpages, I’ve listed plenty of candidates so you can choose the one that works the best for you. I prefer MultiURL, but it does have the downside of not having the shortest URLs which may be of considerable importance if you’re using it regularly for services like text messages and Twitter.
If you use Mozilla Firefox, you may find a few add-ons to help you grab all the URLs of the tabs you have open. This will help grab that information for use in the batch multiple link creators.
These services also work perfectly well for a single URL as well. If you’re currently using something like Bit.ly or TinyURL and you’re worried about having to remember one of these sites as well if you ever want to condense more than one URL, I’d say make the switch now. The services will work just as well for one URL as multiple, then you only have one service to go to and you can track your links better.
If for some curious reason you’re trying to nest multiple URLs, it doesn’t really work out so well if there are multiple toolbar sites. Usually the internal URL’s toolbar will take over. I’m not sure why you’d ever want or need to do this, but for completion sake it works out fine for lists, but not so well for toolbars.
If you’d like to visit all the multiple URL condensing services mentioned in this article, follow this link: http://www.multiurl.com/l/07A