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Google Kills the Chrome App Launcher

chrome app launcher

A familiar feature, but on its way out

Are you a fan of the Chrome app launcher on Windows, Mac and Linux?

Well, I hope you aren’t; I’ve some bad news for you: Google is axing the Chrome App Launcher.

Yep, the box-y launchpad housing all your web-app and Chrome app shortcuts is being ditched — or ‘retired’ in Google speak — from desktop builds of the browser in July.

The search giant cites low use for the decision to axe it, though the effort to prune the desktop browser of superfluous features as part of ‘project eraser’ has likely played a part too.

The app launcher will now exist exclusively on Chrome OS.

“The removal process will take place over the next several months,” Google say. “…in a few weeks, Chrome will no longer enable the launcher when users first install a Chrome app”

All existing instances of the launcher will be removed in July.

Latest Feature To Get The Chop

chrome app launcher discontinued

Last year to retire the Chrome Notification Center from non-Chrome OS platforms, a move many said was a sign of Google paring back its ambitions to ‘Chrome-ify’ other platforms.

The Chrome app launcher for Windows, Mac and Linux has lagged behind its Chrome OS sibling for some time.

The latter sports a new look with Google Now card integration and support for creating and arranging folders. The former… Well, the exact features depend on your OS — the Mac launcher has never been able to create folders, while the Linux version regularly vanishes.

The move will also bring further relief to Mac OS X users, many of whom have grown tired of finding Launchpad stuffed full of app launchers.

app launcher now cards

The Chrome App Launcher has more features in Chrome OS

Will you miss the Chrome App Launcher?

  • vegegoku

    I use it and i like it, now its gone, i will hope something else will popup somewhere as a good alternative.

    • Boothy

      Wonder if making your own unpacked extension of the chrome://apps page and pinning to taskbar will replicate the majority of the functionality……

  • Antoine

    Does this mean that we won’t be able to place web apps in the Windows toolbar? I use a lot of web apps alongside native windows apps, and I love the ability to launch them as a separate window and pin them into my windows toolbar.

    • They will still be where you normally access apps OS wide (like the start menu in Windows and the Dash in Ubuntu). Otherwise the old Chrome Apps page (before the launcher even existed) will still be there by clicking apps on the bookmarks bar or going to chrome://apps

  • I think it’s a change for the better. It makes sense for ChromeOS devices, but not others.

  • Boothy

    As a regular Chrome OS user, I personally found it useful to have the App Launcher on Windows, and ‘mimic’ the majority of my normal desktop environment, whilst using those Windows exclusive applications.

    Google seem to be intent on returning Chrome to being a browser first, and less of a platform in itself…….

    • sonicyoof

      Personally I just treat Chrome apps like regular desktop apps. So I search the start menu or activities menu for, say, Hangouts, or ping Hangouts as a favorite or to the task bar. That’s why I never used the Chrome launcher outside of Chrome OS.

      • Luis Rebelo

        On my work desktop the App launcher is twice as fast as the windows8 crappy start menu.. I for one hope the app lunch will still be left behind on the flags..

    • Yes, which is probably their way of legitimizing Chromebooks and Chrome OS as an independent platform with exclusive features, a la Windows or OSX. They’re sly, for sure.

  • Lou G

    I’ll miss it until my Acer Aspire C710-2487 comes from my best friend.

  • KevinV

    I understand why they are getting rid of it, but I hope they have a more elegant replacement than the Chrome://apps page and bookmarks bar button to replace it. If they think the future of Chrome is in apps, then they will need to innovate in this area and add features, not remove them.

  • Aaron Bell

    i will miss it for sure… one of the beauties of Chrome is that I can use it on my desktop windows computer and my Chromebook interchangeably… my desktop is under the control of our IT dept, which is fine, but i can’t add ANY programs without a hassle, except Chrome apps, because they aren’t really being added, so I use it all the time on my windows desktop

  • I love the launcher, but if they’re trying to integrate apps into the OS then they really should be accessed from the OS’s menus. Mac already has the dock, applications folder, and lately Launchpad. Launchpad is basically the same thing as the App Launcher anyways.

    • Leon Cavalcanti Rocha

      This integration is what should happen – but when you try to pin a Chrome App on Windows 10 Start menu, it only shows a huge Chrome icon, giving you no hint to what app is that.

  • Surprised Google hasn’t let the Android version of Chrome install Chrome apps into the Android app launcher ― maybe they will once Android N’s new “freeform” window mode goes public.

    • Communist

      I’m just surprised google didn’t merge the android and chrome app store.

      • That too — all this time I’ve wondered why the apps section of the Play Store is called “Android Apps” and not just “Apps”. Very easy to simply add a “Chrome Apps” section — make them separate sections of one store instead of the separate stores that they currently are.

        • No

          Because Google Play Movies etc are available on multiple platforms.

    • No

      I’m not, the Play Store already has enough junk applications on it and I’m sure no one wants all that crap from the Chrome one on it too.

  • Wynne007

    Will it still be an icon in Chrome browser? I use quite a bit, but I usually launch it from Chrome.

    • abqnm

      Yes, that remains. The apps link in the left side of the bookmark bar and chrome://applications will be the only way to get to the apps list on Windows.

      I assume web app shortcuts on the Taskbar will continue to work normally still.

  • I love you Google, but stop wasting time and energy on adding/removing inconsequential features and finally figure out how to speed up Chrome and lower the amount of memory required!

    • Stellanatus

      Get off facebook.

  • Daniel Thursfield

    What a bummer. I use this app launcher all the time on my Windows PC. But might be as I also use a Chromebook so I’m used to using it. So perhaps in somewhat it makes sense for them to remove it. But still.. I for one will miss it.

    • Mel Schmidt

      Chromebook will still have the Launcher as it is part of that system…so you are good to go.

  • FerenC.E.O

    There goes Cub OS Linux’s launcher…

    • Lou G

      not really.

      if it’s a fork, it’s not hard to keep it alive.

  • Mel Schmidt

    Why oh why is Google scrapping another useful cool tool? First it started off with the best homepage ever! Now they are trashing the coolest app launcher that I used to use in Windows.

    • Stellanatus

      Ikr. Now I have to ditch windows since I cant use my chrome apps on it anymore. Strixktly steam os and chrome os now

      • Mel Schmidt

        You can also download Chrome Browser on Windows. That is what I do and I have the Apps ap on my book mark bar. I know just not the same. I use Win 10 of which I am digging cause it is like Win 7 on steroids. ;-)

  • the everything launcher built into chromeOS is better than the dock anyways. They should ditch it from ChromeOS too.

  • Can I keep it on my Windows desktop? Pretty please, Google?

  • Dino Rodriguez

    This is the most useful app on my Windows desktop and the best way for me to switch from one account to another with extreme ease and sense. Why are you doing this, Google!!?

  • swagnoodle

    This is why I use Firefox. I make the decisions instead of some big power hungry company taking away features with no input from me, and if something changes, I can easily put it back with addons. No forced Material Design here!

    • Stellanatus

      Firefox is just a browser though.

      • Mel Schmidt

        Chrome is wayyyyyy better than FF.

    • Mel Schmidt

      I heard through the grapevine…. that they’re at FF could be integrating some Chrome apps with FF.

  • Okay. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  • wanstronian

    So what alternatives are there? I don’t want to have to open Chrome; click the Apps button; then launch the app I want. I use the App Launcher many times a day, and now it’s gone and I’m pissed off about it. So I need a replacement, that doesn’t involve pinning individual shortcuts to my taskbar. Pinning a folder won’t work, because that opens an explorer window which I’d then have to close.

    Any ideas?

    • Nathan Russell

      Create an entry in your system applications menu. I’m sure I’ve done it before.

    • Purchase a Chromebook, it seems. That appears to be their goal.

    • lzdking

      I use the chrome app launcher daily. Easy access to chrome, inbox, calculator and keep. I’m very disappointed that they are removing this feature.

      • I’m also very very very disappointed with Google… “Don’t be evil”??? Where??

    • AmericanMom

      I use Awesome New Tab Page (ANTP) as my Chrome launch page – you can get it in the Chrome Store – and haven’t seen the launcher since. Set your background, add any app you want and make it personal.

  • wanstronian

    Ha! I clicked on the “Apps” bookmark button in Chrome and it shows all the apps. But at the bottom it still says, “Discover the Chrome App Launcher” – even though they’ve got rid of it. Of course, clicking on that link takes you to a dead end in Chrome webstore.

  • hellol11

    Quick! give them more article material before they die!

  • Is there a Chrome extension that will notify me of *at least* my Google Now reminders?

  • Mike Harm

    So I just installed Chrome x64 v 50.0 on a new machine, and they are still advertising the “NEW” Chrome App Launcher – In version 50!!! C’mon guys if they are going to deprecate this thing this year, dont put out a NEW “x.0 release with it still included AND ADVERTISED!!! Lets just kill it already! At least DONT act like its a new killer feature in your in-app advertising! AMATEURS!! Just leave the damn thing and turn it off by default if its confusing people. Then the power or Chromebook users who want the same experience on Windows can enjoy it still. Its not like its a lot of complex code or hard to maintain across versions!!

    At least it seems that the app functionality to integrate as an OS application is still there, but I highly doubt that we’ll get additional tile support for Win10 where today all Chrome apps just show the Chrome icon… This is a major gap for anyone not using Chrome on their old Win7 work PC. Practically EVERYONE will upgrade to Win10 this year! But lets focus on deprecating harmless features rather than fixing problems for our soon-to-be largest supported platform… 9 out of 10 small sample users wouldnt like that.

  • pybe

    Still works for now by creating a shortcut to:

    “C:Program Files (x86)GoogleChromeApplicationchrome.exe” –show-app-list

    • I’ve copied the entire “C:Program Files (x86)GoogleChromeApplication” folder and create a shortcut to this copy. Maybe it will not be updated and the feature will be maintained.

  • sickattack

    That’s a shame for Windows/Mac only users. I myself use an Intel Chromebook so luckily this doesn’t effect me in the slightest. That said, I never used the app launcher much in Windows let alone Chrome OS. I found the shelf a better way to access what I need.

  • Kevin Shen

    Chrome is so good that Google makes the desktop version worse to try push people to Chrome OS…

  • systemBuilder

    imho there is little difference between app launcher and the bookmarks bar, perhaps chrome store will offer an option to install a link on the bookmarks bar? I assure you Google in no way wants people to stop using Chrome on other platforms, free unbiased web access is too critical to the company’s core product, search.

  • Tran Nguyen

    I use the Mac OS beta. Every time the Mac OS version update, it seems like Apple and Google play “Cat & Mouse” game and unfriendly. It’s easy to understand that Apple want to kick Google Chrome out. But Apple has to know that the Apple Safari can not compete the Google Chrome, Google Map and people who is using Android devices apps. I love Mac because Mac device is the best than any Android and Window devices combine. I love the Google apps launcher, please keep it !

  • disqus_1lAUL13p4R

    man i use it all the time. great now i have to create separate shortcuts to chrome apps…

    • Raymond Menefee

      i know it takes up space on the task bar

      • Acecool

        I use quick-launch folder / toolbar with 2 unit high taskbar which supports 3 rows of QL icons… not a fan of Windows 10 Pin to Taskbar.. that takes up too much space.

        But, they better add it back in.. It helps those of us that are disabled to spend less time getting to where we need to go so more gets done between frequent breaks.

  • The bookmarks app launcher could at least be a drop down menu. THINK, GOOGLE, THINK!

  • nofx

    yes i’ll misse it a lot. the one in the browser doesnt do the same because it opens a new page with the apps. like getjeffrey says if they put a dropdown menu it was much better.

  • I use it to start apps and switch users… if there a alterative way/app wo switch from navbar answer here

  • Daniel Plainview

    Yes! I will miss this feature. Dammit Google!!!

  • Kristen Callahan

    You have goofed on this one. Make it easy or I will have to break things.

  • Kristen Callahan

    enough kissing mac users butts.

  • Jason Merk

    first it was goggleig and now this. please stop!

  • “Don’t be evil”????

  • jcoeng

    Quick workaround that delivers most of the functionality. Create desktop shortcuts, put them in a folder somewhere on you computer. RMB on taskbar>toolbars>create new toolbar, locate folder with shortcuts. This puts a toolbar with your app icons on your taskbar. Then play around with position, show title/text and get it how you like. I have mine all the way to the left with my most used app first in the list and text/title turned off with the toolbar collapsed so only the most used app icon is showing. the rest are visible when you click the arrows. MS removed ability to have other apps intercept cortana searches and redirect to chrome/google, you can install chrome app on win10 but its really just another mini-browser.

    • Acecool

      This won’t work for me.. I have a 2-unit high taskbar on my left monitor ( 1 unit on center and right ) with the primary taskbar being on the left which has the quick-launch folder / toolbar there… I even have 3 rows of quick-launch icons ( which has to be glitched because MS seems to think only 2 rows will fit but if you drag the taskbar to a vertical position and drag it back all without releasing the mouse button you get 3 rows )… So another toolbar won’t work because with 3 lines it’d just show the icon and several of the shortcuts…

  • i8u2manytimes

    I have used chrome app launcher ever since release, any desktop I sit on, I download this app because it is the way I search up things when I want to get info on google…even worse, now cortana is a microsoft edge, bing exclusive

  • Farhan Afnan Iskandar

    such a sad thing, I won’t open chrome or it’s tab to just open up LINE messenger or any windowed web apps. And also It’s take a longer time to just open a web app since Google separate New tab and Apps tab (and open a new tab page take a longer time on my ‘old’ PC). I’m really pissed off with this decision.

  • Matt Rudd

    Easy! if you have Windows 10 then just go search box and type ( chrome app launcher ) and then right-click to pin it to task bar. Here is my screenshot ! :)

    • ollie

      They are going to remove it completely eventually and then this won’t work, However while it does work it should on windows vista and 7 as well

      • Matt Rudd

        it does work and been using it everyday and have no problem with it.

    • hyerrakalva

      Now the pinned icon just links to chrome://apps/

  • a62dave

    It still works fine for me in XP. I have it in the “Quick Launch” toolbar.

  • Ellen Johnson

    So what is the work around for ml old app launcher? I went to ask an Expert, but they wanted $35 to answer and I am w.o.b. i.e. way over broke right now and I just want to be able to see a list of my installed apps and so far cannot find same. HELP!

  • Acecool

    This is a terrible decision… At least make it standalone if you’re going to remove it… Or let users decide whether or not to enable it… Now instead of 2 actions to load an app ( 2 clicks ) and being light-weight it now needs to load the entire browser and all tabs that were open when it was closed, navigate to the extensions or apps place and load them there… Terrible..

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