What it is: Launchpad is a program that displays all installed programs as a series of icons, mimicking the iOS home screen.
The simplest way to start a program is to click on its icon stored on the Dock. Unfortunately, then Dock only has so much space to store icons, so you’ll only want to store the most commonly used programs on the Dock. That means for seldom-used programs, you’ll need to click the Finder icon on the Dock to open the Finder window, click on the applications folder in the sidebar of the Finder window, and then scroll through your list of installed programs until you find the one you like.
If this sounds clumsy, you’re right. That’s why Apple provides Launchpad. Launchpad makes your Macintosh screen look like an iPhone/iPad screen with grids of icons stored on pages that you can scroll left and right to view additional program icons. To run Launchpad, click the Finder icon on the Dock to open the Finder window, click on the Applications folder in the sidebar of the Finder window, and then double-click on the Launchpad icon to run Launchpad.
Within Launchpad you can click on a program icon to start that program. If you want to exit out of Launchpad without clicking on a program, just press the Esc key on your keyboard.
Is Launchpad useful? For some people who prefer the grid of icon interface of the iPhone/iPad, but for most people familiar with OS X or Windows, Launchpad is more of a nuisance than a help. You probably don’t want to run Launchpad all the time and if you have many programs installed on your Macintosh, searching through all available programs by scrolling left and right can be cumbersome.
Still if you like your iPhone/iPad and want to try a different way to start programs, give Launchpad a chance. It’s not the most innovative program available, but it may give you a chance to make all your Apple products look and behave the same.