When comparing Plank vs Synapse, the Slant community recommends Plank for most people. In the question“What are the best Linux app launchers?” Plank is ranked 6th while Synapse is ranked 11th.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Solid and lightweight
Pro Simple and minimal
Plank is a good choice for those looking for something simple that just does its job well. There is no UI for options built in to the dock as to change anything those options will have to be accessed through a text file.
Pro Third party themer available
An additional third party app has been developed that allows theming the dock without the use of any extra resources. This is great for those that are not using elementary OS and the elementary tweaks extra.
Pro Rock solid
Synapse is pretty rock solid. Works as expected and launches applications fast.
Pro Can run commands just as a terminal would
Users can run commands such as
sudo apt-get update from within Synapse, making for a convenient way to open or run items/commands.
Pro Zeitgeist powered
Synapse searches the Zeitgeist log, which tends to be a pretty quick way to do searches over other app launchers.
Pro Includes a Zeal plugin
Includes a Zeal plugin to make searching faster.
Con No right click menu for some apps outside of elementary OS
Other file explorers and terminals (those not found in the default elementary OS) do not have any right click menus for the dock meaning it is impossible to launch multiple windows for certain file explorers or terminals.
Con Poor workplace awareness (cycling windows)
When configured to only show apps on current workspace, cycling an app open on multiple workspaces will switch workspace focus, update the dock and often leave you to cycle another app.
Con Unable to search whole system
Due to Zeitgeist being used the search is not as robust as if it were using Tracker. Of course using Tracker has its own downside like battery drain, so currently there is no "best" solution.
Con Bound to control+space
Due to this it interferes with common IDE layouts for recommendations. Modifying hotkeys file doesn't adjust this.