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Chrome Is Testing New Ways to ‘Install’ Website Shortcuts

inbox chrome app

Websites and apps sit side by side

Google is making ‘installing’ links to your favourite websites easier in Chrome.

Over on Android, Chrome beta has recently introduced ‘install’ banners that appear when you visit a compatible website often.

These banners are simple in their ask and allow you to quickly “install” a shortcut to a website to your Android home screen (depending on the website you may get other features, like background sync and push notifications).

This exact same feature is now heading to desktop Chrome, says Googler Francois Beaufort and is already available to play with in the latest bleeding edge builds of Chromium and (by the time you’re reading this) Chrome Canary.

To See A Banner

app install banner

Banners in action

But how do you see one of these newfangled banners? That’s where things get tricky.

You first need to visit a compatible website. A compatible website (like the Google I/O page in the screenshot opposite) needs to meet the strict set of criteria (see below) and you need to visit it at least twice, on two different days, over a two week (!) period before Chrome will throw the banner prompt suggesting to “add this site to your shelf to use it any time”.

For a website to be compatible (and thus show the banner) it must have a web app manifest file, use Chrome’s new service worker tech and be served over HTTPS.

The ‘install banner’ feature also doesn’t work out of the box in Google Chrome (yet) and requires the “Add to shelf” flag to be manually enabled via chrome://flags.

Adding Other Websites Manually

But what if you want to “add” a web-site that doesn’t have all of the web manifest, HTTPs and service worker doohickeys?

The same flag that switches banners on also makes “installing” any website easy (though not automatic as the banners) by adding a new option:

 Chrome Menu > More Tools > Add Website… 

Now, when you’re on any website/page that you want to add a bookmark app for, you select the ‘Add Website’ option from the Chrome Menu and fill out this dialog box:

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 16.23.39

Just give your bookmark app a short-ish name and select the ‘open as window’ option for an app-like experience. Hit OK to have it added to the Chrome App Launcher and, depending on the operating system, your task bar, desktop or applications folder.

For Chrome OS the shortcut is added to the App Shelf (and launcher); on Windows it will add it to the Task Bar (and launcher) while on OS X it will add it to the ‘Applications’ folder (and launcher).

Quick links to favourite websites

Quick links to favourite websites

  • Related tip: Use the hotkeys Alt + 1-9 to open quickly what’s pinned on your shelf on Chrome OS! :D

    • Zambonifofex

      Winkey + 1-9 on Windows and Linux also work! =]
      I have no clue about Mac… =P

  • rheerani

    On Chrome OS it will *add* the shortcut to the App Shelf (and launcher)

    • hithere

      On Chrome OS Dev, you need to enable flag: Enable add to shelf

      • rheerani

        There was a mistake in the article, it said app instead of add.

  • I like this feature so much. To add app like shortcuts to websites.

  • matina phimla

    Keep comments civil and criticism constructive. Learn more about our commenting code of conduct

  • Neil

    I’m sure ChromeOS had this feature not so long ago, and then it was taken out of the recent builds, for the life of me I do not know why.

    • Ryan Cavitt

      I dont recall it

  • Mick Baines

    I tried the second option. In Ubuntu it creates a shortcut icon on the desktop which opens like an app.

  • Matina Phimla


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  • Cary Stellanatus

    I created a skype app with the new skype thing. But I used an older artical about making your own apps

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  • Degru

    I’ve said it before… I want my browser to be a browser first and foremost, not its own OS. Chrome seems to be trying to port ChromeOS to all other platforms rather than being a fast, lean, and customizable browser.

    • Some of our apps at work are web-based, and some users like to separate those web apps from their tabs. Being able to “pin” those web apps as their own windows makes it a bit more manageable for them.

  • Caseas

    < ?????? +dilbert +*********…..


  • armadilloranch75418

    tell degru he is STUPPED!

  • armadilloranch75418

    hahaha :)

  • armadilloranch75418


  • xdigi

    So, basically, Google wants more crap bookmark apps in the extensions store cause they didn’t have nearly enough?

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