Revisit: Overflow vs Login Items


A few weeks ago I covered Login Items and there was a little discussion that arose over better ways to launch some of those services. The discussion revolved mostly around the use of Overflow in place of clogging your startup process with tons of Login Items.

So I removed all the applications from my Login Items list, and populated them into Overflow – making Overflow the only application that would launch upon Login. My system would come to an up state a little faster than it had before, but then I had to manually – using Overflow – launch each of the apps for use. I did this for 3 or 4 weeks to get a feel for it as part of my ‘workflow’ if you will.

I’ve decided that ultimately, it speeds the login procedure a bit, but just adds the time saved to the backend, when I have to then launch things manually. Since I rely on all these applications, there’s no sense launching them on my own when I need them – I always need them. So at least for me, using the Login Items as my mode of pertinent app launching, is far desirable.

Having done it the other way for a month, I’m fairly set in my decision. But if I’m missing some point that makes the a non-Login Items scenario better, please enlighten me.


Tim Houghton

Interesting script SoulMonkey, I’m gonna try that, cheers.

I watched the Overflow video. I still don’t “get it”. How is it better than the Dock? Or DragThing? Or any of the hundreds of launcher apps out there?


If you always want a certain set of apps running, they’re going to take the same amount of time to launch, either all at once on login or one at a time manually. The only time saving might come from not having all the apps hit the drive at the same time—fewer head seeks. But I figure, hey, it’s a computer—let it do the work for me automatically. I don’t want to click something every time I login (which isn’t that often really – maybe every couple weeks). It’s the same reason I downloaded the source for SSH Tunnel Manager and added keychain support for entering the password, so I don’t have to.


This may not improve the speed of using login items over Overflow, but just as a nice option (especially in cases like Sara’s), you can set up an Overflow category (I use frequent), call up Overflow, right click on the category and choose Open all items.

Saves a little time from clicking each application seperately, and allows you to open sets of applications as needed.

Soul Monkey

I forgot “keycode 111” is for F12, if you use another F key to activate the Dashboard you need to use to corresponding keycode (those below should work)

F1 122
F2 120
F3 99
F4 118
F5 96
F6 97
F7 98
F8 100
F9 101
F10 109
F11 103
F12 111
F13 105
F14 107
F15 113

Soul Monkey

The main problem I had with the login items was that they all tried to start at the samt time. That just took to long and the harddrive was also busy. So I reduced the login items that only

MenuCalendarClock iCal

are left. Then I wrote an AppleScript (saved as application bundle and set as login item)

delay 3
tell application “Mail” to launch
delay 1
tell application “Quicksilver” to launch
delay 1

which launches the other applications, one after another, also I put

tell application “System Events”
key code 111
delay 1
key code 111
delay 1

into the script, so it activates the Dashboard and instantly hides it again, so I don’t have to wait for my widgets to load when I need them.

Now it takes about 5 seconds to load all the applications instead of 15 or so seconds before.

(Sorry I got a little bit confused with my browser tabs and posted the comment first on the article from january 3rd).


I have experimented with this two different ways:

1.) A shareware app called Relaunch can take snapshots of launched applications and allow you to relaunch them from the menubar. I created “work” and “home” snapshots. This worked very well as all apps are kicked off at the same time ala login-items. The bonus is that you can have the app take snapshots in the background so when you shut down you can choose to restore everything upon launch.

The two things that could be better… the ability to add/remove apps of an existing profile and the ability to capture “service-type” applications that only run in the menubar. Manually adding an app to a profile would be perfect here.

Check it out here:

2.) Creation of “work” and “home” Finder “Automator Actions” that launch appropriate applications AND map network drives (for work). This method is the most flexible, but… it is also the least reliant. Apps launch in order, not simultaneously. Therefore, if you have a large number of apps, or things take too long to launch, the Automator Action may cancel and not finish launching the rest of the apps or mount network shares. Because of this, I’ve split out the mounting of network shares into a separate Automator Action.

Either method works better for me than using login-items since my two environments are quite different.

A good solution that worked best for me:

1.) Set login-items for the menubar items that are shared between environments.
2.) Use Relaunch for launching apps for each specific environment.
3.) Use a Finder Automator Action to mount certain groups of network shares depending on my need.

This way, common services are loaded on boot and I just do a single selection to kick off the apps for work or home.

Nick Santilli

Sara – that’s the best counter point I’ve heard (not just in this thread).

Mdmunoz – I love Quicksilver more than any other app on my machine…but even still, why not just let the Login Items launch things for you – along with Quicksilver, rather than manually launching those things with Quicksilver (or Overflow, or whatever) later, which takes more time and effort than having them done for you?


I’ve limited my Login Items list to menubar apps or “background” apps, and Overflow. MenuMeters, Google Notifier, iClip, Yahoo! Widget Engine, and Overflow.


For me, login items wouldn’t work. I use my MacBook in two situations, online and offline. The programs I use depend on that state. For example, online I use mail, firefox and vienna, offline pages, iweb etc.
I have those apps in my dock, the rest in overflow.

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