The folks at Google would like you to think differently about the most functional websites you’ll find on the Internet. These are websites that do more than display textual content. They are interactive multimedia experiences that, for many users, replace much of the desktop software that they’ve traditionally used on a day-to-day basis. The only problem with web apps is that rather than sitting conveniently in your Start Menu or Desktop, they must be accessed through your web browser.
Chrome recognizes this inconvenience. And to help reduce the barriers between you and your web apps, they’ve implement a new feature: pinning websites to your taskbar. With a pinned website on your taskbar, you don’t have to open up your browser and then navigate to the web app of your choice. Instead, you can treat the shortcut much like you would a normal desktop application.
Here’s how to do it:
Install the latest version of the Google Chrome web browser. Download it at google.com/chrome
Launch a new Google Chrome browser window.
Navigate to the location of your web app. Choose a website that you access often, such as Pandora, GrooveShark, Aviary, YouTube, Hulu, Gmail, etc.
Click the Wrench button in the top-right to access Google Chrome’s Settings menu.
From the Settings drop-down menu, select Tools and choose Create application shortcuts.
Google Chrome will display a brief message explaining what it is about to do. You will have an opportunity to review the web apps name and description.
Below the notification from Google Chrome, you’ll have the option to choose where you’d like to create shortcuts. Choose from the Start Menu, your Desktop or the Taskbar. You can choose one or more.
After you have made your selection, click Create.
You’re done! Now, to launch your web app, simply double-click its shortcut or its icon in the taskbar.
Conclusion and Considerations
So, what exactly has this done? In essence, the shortcut or pinned icon that you’ve created is the exact same as a bookmark—except you don’t have to open Google Chrome to launch it. When you use your application shortcut, it will launch in its very own Chrome window without the “extra” stuff, such as the toolbar, controls and address bar.
What this isn’t is a downloaded application. This procedure has not installed any desktop software on your hard drive, nor has it made any alterations to your registry or system configuration. Also, you cannot access this web app without an Internet connection.
While this is but a small convenience, it’s a precursor to the way that we’ll likely access web apps in the future. Already, most of our computers are “always on” the Internet, similar to our phones, and accessing vital applications in this fashion will be second nature. Think of your Words with Friends, Google Maps, Evernote or Tweetdeck apps on your iPhone or Android phone are wholly dependent on an Internet connection, yet have permanent shortcuts on your home screen. Google Chrome application shortcuts are a similar idea.