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Cerebro is a keyboard-friendly launcher and search tool

11 April 2017, Mike Williams

CerebroCerebro is an open-source Alfred-like search bar and application launcher for Windows, Linux and Mac.

The program aims to be a mix of your OS search with a web search engine, and can be extended even further with a host of plugins and addons.

Press Ctrl+Space to launch Cerebro, start typing and it updates in real-time to show what you can do. We typed Paint, for instance, and saw options to launch Paint or Paint.NET, search the web for “paint” or translate the word.

We continued, typed “Painting”, the app launch items disappeared and we saw web search options including “painting games”, “painting ideas” and “painting kitchen cabinet”.

Some commands display answers immediately. Typing a place name followed by “map” displays the map; typing “hello in spanish” gave us an instant translation”; “199 usd in eur” ran a live currency conversion.


Enter a place and the “map” command and Cerebro previews the map instantly

A built-in expression evaluator accepts input like “2+2” and runs the calculation for you.

There are also some issues here. The program is supposed to be able to locate data files, preview and launch them, but this didn’t work for us– a fairly major issue in a search and file manager.

Type “plugins” and Cerebro displays a long list of plugins to integrate with other services, for example to search sites like Twitter and IMDB. But we tried a chocolatey plugin to see if we could install something, and the Twitter search plugin, but neither appeared to do anything at all.

Why? A version number of 0.2.8 tells us bugs are expected, and the near complete lack of documentation is another problem (we spent most of our time guessing or experimenting to try and figure out what worked).

Cerebro has more fundamental issues, too. It’s Electron-based and had five processes running on our test PC, grabbing around 200MB RAM in total. That’s a significant amount for an application which needs to be running most of the time.

The program also popped up an alert asking us to donate, and looks like it might do so at regular intervals, not so common with open source.

Despite that, there’s a lot of functionality here, and if you’re prepared to spend time experimenting – or happy to wait for the developer to fix any bugs or write a manual – Cerebro could be interesting.

Cerebro is an open-source Electron-based application for Windows, Linux and Mac.

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