OS X Lion Taming Tip: Take Control of Launchpad with ‘Launchpad-Control’

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So you’re using OS X Lion’s nifty new application brain-center, Launchpad, maybe in spite of your inclination to view it as a pretty wall of semi-redundant iOS-style buttons. Hey, it’s more satisfying than selecting ‘Go – Applications’ from Finder, or popping Stacks off the dock by way of an Applications folder shortcut.

But if you’re like me (and the many others who’ve pointed this out to me in frustration), you’re probably wondering why the heck you can’t fiddle what’s visible and what’s not when Apple’s new app-overlay swims up and dominates your screen.

(MORE: How to Make Your OS X Lion Purr Like a Snow Leopard)

How about an elegant, unobtrusive little solution that won’t cost a penny? It’s called Launchpad-Control, and it’s 211kb of sanity-restoring software that sits politely at the bottom of your System Preferences pane for graceful one-click fiddling.

Thank Andreas Ganske, the developer of Mac App Store ship-shooter Geolaria. Ganske writes:

A huge disadvantage of the Launchpad is that every app that is located in your /Applications folder is shown. That means you will see little helper programs like uninstallers or updaters. These apps can’t be hidden easily from Launchpad because there are no such preferences.

Ergo, Launchpad-Control, which Ganske describes as “a small tool which allows you to easily hide/unhide apps (and groups) from launchpad in Mac OS X Lion.”

I was fiddling with an earlier version of Ganske’s app yesterday, which amounted to a small Cocoa-based package. It brings up a table listing everything that’s shown under Launchpad, with small checkboxes next to each item. Simply uncheck what you don’t want to see, and presto, it disappears from the Launchpad overlay. It’s basically a cloaking utility, and each Launchpad shortcut can be reenabled by simply rechecking its position in the utility table.

The even better news: Overnight, Ganske rolled out an update that makes Launchpad-Control into a System Preferences pane (as noted, it shows up bottom of the panel, categorized as ‘Other’). No fuss, no muss, and it’ll now be a permanent part of my OS X Lion installs, unless Apple rolls out something more or less identical.

Speaking of stuff-they-should’ve-included-but-didn’t, are we ever going to get a proper Apple official software uninstaller? Um, hello Steve Jobs?

MORE: The Ups and Downs of Mac OS X Lion

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.