Google is Retiring the Chrome App Launcher on Windows

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Windows with 0 Comments

Google is Retiring the Chrome App Launcher on Windows

Google announced this week that it will be retiring the Chrome App Launcher on Windows (and on Mac and Linux). But that’s fine, since there’s already a much better way to launch Chrome apps in Windows alongside native applications.

The Chrome App Launcher is a curious beast: It provides a second Start menu-like UI that only works with Chrome web apps. (It makes more sense in Chrome OS, where it is in effect the Start menu.) But Google has seen the light.

“We’ve found that users on Windows, Mac, and Linux prefer to launch their apps from within Chrome,” Chrome engineering director Marc Pawliger explains in [a new post to the Chromium blog](Marc Pawliger). “With Chrome’s continued emphasis on simplicity and streamlining browser features, the launcher will be removed from those platforms. It will remain unchanged on Chrome OS.”

While I’m sure it’s true that most Chrome users launch web apps from within Chrome, that’s almost certainly because they are unaware of the fact that Chrome lets you launch these web apps directly from the taskbar in Windows. (This trick works in Linux too, Google says, but it does not work on the Mac, just one of a thousand reasons why I find OS X to be less usable than Windows.)

Here’s how it works.

Navigate to a web app that you use regularly, like Google Play Music, Google Inbox, or whatever. Then, select Menu, More Tools, and then Add to desktop. The following pop-up will appear.


Here, you can rename the app shortcut and, crucially, can choose to open the web app in a streamlined app window rather than a normal browser window. So be sure the “Open as window” option is selected.

When you run the resulting shortcut, the web app appears like an app alongside the native apps in Windows. And you can, and should, pin it to the taskbar or Start so you can access it normally.


Problem solved.


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