Google Chrome: Escaping the Browser Ghetto

Yesterday, I complained about Google Chrome’s tab-centric user interface. Today, I’ll rave about Google Chrome because it allows you to easily avoid its tab-centric user interface and let applications escape the browser ghetto. Here’s how you do it.

Open Google Chrome and go to a web application. From its «Document» menu icon, select «Create application shortcuts…»

Create application shortcuts dialog box

This will open a dialog box which allows you to set where the application should appear:

Create application shortcuts menu item

Note the nice gmail icon Google Chrome found. I think it took the icon from this link element found in gmail’s head:

<link rel="icon" href="images/2/gmail_icon_32.png" sizes="32x32">

If your web app has no icon link, Google Chrome will use its favicon.

After you’ve created the web app, it will look pretty much like a native application:

gmail in the Windows Start menu

This shortcut actually calls chrome.exe with the —app option:

"C:Documents and Settings/LKM/Local Settings/Application

Launching it shows the site1 inside a very clean, basic window:

Google Chrome web aplication window

This window has a dropdown with some basic commands:

Google Chrome web aplication window menu

This seems to be a very clean, usable solution to the problem of having web apps stuck inside browser windows. Well done!

  1. Yes, the screenshot does not show gmail :-) ↩︎

If you require a short url to link to this article, please use

designed for use cover

But wait, there's more!

Want to read more like this? Buy my book's second edition! Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web is now available DRM-free directly from The Pragmatic Programmers. Or you can get it on Amazon, where it's also available in Chinese and Japanese.