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
Data/GoogleChrome/Application/chrome.exe"  
--app=https://mail.google.com/mail

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 :-) back

If you require a short url to link to this article, please use http://ignco.de/55

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.