I generally use Firefox as my default web browser mainly because the plugins still seem to have much more polish, and it’s speed is catching up to Chrome after every release, however one useful thing Chrome has that doesn’t seem to exist in Firefox yet is the “Create application shortcuts” feature.
A web application, as opposed to a web site, is rich in client side functionality and keyboard shortcuts, much like a desktop application. Gmail is a good example of this, or your online to-do list application such as Remember the Milk. Since these are like desktop applications, they should really exist on your PC like any other application would with their own icon in the task bar, on your desktop and start menu etc.
You end up with something that resembles the following:
The 2nd and 3rd icons there on my desktop open a new stripped down chrome window with remember the milk and gmail inside, as opposed to a tab lost in amongst all the other web pages you happen to have open within your browser session. I know you can “pin as app tab” in both Firefox and Chrome but there is a benefit to be able to hit WindowsKey-3 wherever you happen to be on your PC to bring up your Gmail – or the ability to alt tab to it just like any other application.
The following steps create the application shortcut from Chrome:
- Browse to the web application
- Click the wrench icon in the top right
- Choose Tools then “Create application shortcuts”
You then have the following options, choose what you wish:
And you are done. I’ve tried all sorts of hackery to get something similar going with Firefox (with shortcuts to firefox.exe and the url to load etc) but didn’t have much luck with the web application always grouping into the same Taskbar group icon in Windows 7 – even after trying to set the application id appropriately on the shortcut etc.
I am however quite happy that using Chrome I can have my favourite web applications fire open independently from my taskbar – and chrome being fast is also a good candidate for the job.
p.s I had a slight issue with the chrome applications not remembering the size of the window when I launched it next as it was always appearing in a strange location and a funny size. You may not need to do the same, but I fixed this by changing the properties on the shortcut to always open as Maximized.