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The friendly little launcher containing all of your Chrome apps is being brutally killed off in favor of…nothing. Zip. Nada. If you hadn’t used the handy quick access Google App Launcher How to Make the Most out of the Chrome App Launcher How to Make the Most out of the Chrome App Launcher The Chrome App Launcher is a powerful tool that can do so much more than simply open programs. It can make a range of web-based tasks faster, easier, and more streamlined. Here's how. Read More housing your apps, you’re part of the problem.

Literally.

Google has cited low usage as the launchers main issue, contributing to its downfall. Simply put, its development is no longer sustainable (or, we venture, needed) across the major operating systems and will now be the sole reserve of Chrome OS Top 10 Tips And Tricks For Google Chromebooks Top 10 Tips And Tricks For Google Chromebooks If you are one of the latest converts to Chromebooks and are looking for some of the best tips and tricks to get you started, then read on for some great hints. Read More .

When Will It Disappear?

Luckily for the apparently miniscule number of users actually putting the Google App Launcher to use, it isn’t going to immediately disappear from your system.

Chrome Apps

The gradual phase out will first see the launcher no longer enabled “when users first install a Chrome app. 9 Quick Tips to Make You a Google Chrome Power User 9 Quick Tips to Make You a Google Chrome Power User If you're a Chrome power user who needs optimal workflow, then you'd do well to start using these features. Any increase in productivity can really add up over time, after all. Read More ” Those users with the launcher installed “will receive a notice informing them that the launcher will be going away.” This will culminate with a final obliteration in July, when existing instances of the launcher will be removed.

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The Chrome App Launcher came about during the advance of Google into web and desktop apps, exploring just how the lines between desktops and online environments could be blurred into a contiguous Google/Chrome-based experience Google Streamlines User Experience Across Google Products With New App Launcher Google Streamlines User Experience Across Google Products With New App Launcher Once you are logged into Google, you would want to move around all Google services seamlessly. To that end, Google has updated the Google Bar with a new design. Google also has a new logo. Read More . The users didn’t buy it, preferring to launch web apps through Chrome itself.

“The app launcher makes Chrome apps easy to open outside the browser, but we’ve found that users on Windows, Mac, and Linux prefer to launch their apps from within Chrome”

If you are an individual who enjoys opening apps from within Chrome, this can still be achieved by typing chrome://apps into the omnibox.

Are There Alternatives?

If you love the Google App Launcher and are desperately sad to see its demise, you should probably get out more. Finding like-for-like replacements for the Google App Launcher is more difficult than I thought (I had assumed the Chrome Web Store would be full of them! The 13 Best Chrome Extensions by Google You Probably Aren't Using The 13 Best Chrome Extensions by Google You Probably Aren't Using Personalize your browsing with these must-have extensions from Google. Among the thousands of Chrome extensions in the Google Web Store, some are developed by Google. These are the best picks from Google itself. Read More ). Each of the alternatives I have listed allow you to faithfully launch your apps from within Chrome, but none offer the same desktop integration. Given the launcher’s integration with the major operating systems, this was always going to be difficult to replicate.

AppJump Launcher

AppJump Launcher is a great replacement for the Google App Launcher. I personally like the option to group specific apps together which then appear in the app launcher itself.

AppJump Launcher Chrome

However, I would like to have seen some more options for font and icon size. I can imagine that even with group organization, anyone with more than nine task or group specific apps is going to fill the launcher panel quite quickly.

Apps Launcher

Apps Launcher is much more basic, offering just your installed apps from an easily accessible panel.

Apps Launcher Chrome Extension Pano

While it is basic, you can change the color of the launcher icon, as well as alter both icon and font size. However, organization is via drag and drop which for any user with more than a couple of handfuls of apps installed might present itself as an issue.

Omnibox App Launcher

The Omnibox App Launcher is something a little different. You’ll still be launching your web apps from within Chrome, but instead of opening a new panel, you can simply type “app” followed by “app name” into the omnibox.

Omnibox App Launcher Chrome

The Omnibox App Launcher then lists those apps with similar names or relating to your search query. It is still basic, but if you’ve a large number of apps to search through this launcher will certainly save some time. Equally, if you constantly have to reopen one app this will negate a few extra clicks to get there. Quick and effective, this launcher is definitely worth a look.

A Taste of Things to Come?

Actually, yes, it could be. Users of Chrome are often largely happy with the browser’s overall performance, but that doesn’t mean improvements cannot and should not be made. One of the biggest Chrome gripes I encounter is its heavy system-toll, closely followed by its apparent sluggishness 5 Things I Hate About Chrome 5 Things I Hate About Chrome Chrome, the operating system, is apparently pretty great – but Chrome, the operating system, is the worst thing that ever happened to Chrome, the browser. Read More . Users are not wrong, and Google is all-too aware of these issues; last year saw the removal of the little used desktop notification center icon as it too was unused.

Is it a case of “goodbye, we hardly knew ye?” I don’t think so. Think about the thousands of times you’ve not used the launcher. Think about the thousand other times you’ve actively ignored the launcher, pushed your mouse toward the top right of your screen, and manually clicked the web app. Heaven forbid the icon is missing from the app drawer. That would be at least three more clicks to open it.

So, no, the Google App Launcher is unlikely to be missed, but if it is the heralding of a new Google era focusing on streamlining Chrome’s other flaws – I’m looking at you, power consumption – then I am extremely pleased to see it go.

Are you sad to see the launcher go? Is Google short-sighted? Do you have a replacement lined up? Let us know below!

Image Credit: Grim reaper by Fer Gregory via Shutterstock

  1. Barbara
    November 1, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    For anyone wondering, a taskbar version of the app launcher can still be created.

    This is in Windows 7; not sure if it's different on other systems: Right-click on the desktop and select new - shortcut. In the "location" box type (or copy and paste):

    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" --show-app-list

    Click finish. Download an icon from Icon Archive. Right-click the shortcut and select properties. Click change icon, then browse to the saved icon to install. Finally, right-click the finished app and pin it to the taskbar.

    (Note: Apparently "--show-app-list" is a command line flag, so there's no guarantee that Google will keep it available indefinitely. )

  2. Andrew
    July 1, 2016 at 2:57 pm
    • beth taylor
      August 25, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      I remember that!

  3. Max
    June 23, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I use the launcher very actively, actually. It's going to be hard for me to find an alternative. I multiple profiles in chrome for working on different things, and maintaining multiple accounts on the same website. And as someone who values his privacy, I'm not thrilled at the idea that I can't select profiles from the app launcher before starting chrome, as I don't want my private profile launching if that was the last profile I used.

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      Have you come across anything else that could make a useful replacement yet? There are definitely going to be a large number of people affected by the removal - I guess Google believe there are other ways of completing the same task.

    • David Laulainen
      July 12, 2016 at 9:27 pm

      I agree with Max... he describes exactly my thoughts on the issue.

  4. Chrisjen
    June 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Seems like a good dock/laucher/stack program might work with chrome custom shortcuts. Might take a little work, but a DIY alternative might be out there.

  5. Paul Andrew Anderson
    June 8, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Great article Gavin! I hardly ever use App Launcher so I'm indifferent to it. It is redundant because everything you can do with it, you can do elsewhere already.

    For example, my home page is Gmail; it stays as a pinned tab on all devices, and the Google Apps drop-down is there too (top-right). It is also my search medium and my communications central. With a Google Voice phone number, it's my phone (lower left-column) that I make and receive calls from, as well as texts (all free), and I do not use nor recommend Hangouts. In the top search bar (not Omnibox), I can search my emails as well as my entire (synced) G-Drive content. I search the open web from the Omnibox and alt-enter so it opens in a new tap, keeping Gmail there always. See also:

    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/11-quick-tricks-to-become-a-chrome-omnibox-power-user/

    As a regular of MakeUseOf, I arrived here by searching "Chrome app launcher is going away" because that's the notification I recently noticed when clicking on it: The notification appeared on my Intel NUC with Cub Linux, an OS designed to mimic the Chrome OS. And since I'm replacing it with Linux Mint 18 stable version (due this Summer), its days are numbered.

    One solution for the launcher is the tool/task/bottom bar; open a program or app, and then pin it there. I launch all my programs or apps, either from the bottom task bar, or inside the browser itself, via new tab. One can experiment with many currently available, and once the launcher is officially gone in July, people will be making new ones so check back in the Fall.

    Go to the Chrome Web Store and search: "new tab apps" as well as "shortcuts for Google" and from there, you will have many options. However, the default new tab (in Chrome Browser) will open with the bookmark bar at the top: Right-click the bar and then (click to) check "show apps shortcut" which is what has already replaced the App Launcher (except on a Chromebook).

    Anything that can be opened in a Chrome Browser window, especially on your hard drive (or USB or SD, etc), can also be saved as a bookmark; when its opened, click the star (right-end of Omnibox) and just bookmark it! Create folders when you get too much: right-click bookmark bar and select Add Folder! Name your first Folder "Apps" and yep, keep them there too!

    Also, in chrome://settings sign in to your Browser, and then (in advance sync settings) keep everything synced (and encrypted); that way no matter what computational device you're on, everything you do in one, replicates in all the others, making sure the same settings are on every device.

    • Matthew Shapiro
      June 19, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      I never understand why people have to insist just because THEY have some other way they prefer to do things that everyone else must be wrong and should be happy to be forced into the same workflow.

      • just-some-dude
        June 22, 2016 at 7:53 pm

        I think you miss the entire purpose of this website; it exists to help people (all humanity) to MAKE USE OF technology: That's all it's for! If you had read the bold text at the end of the article, it asks for input. Nevertheless, no one here insisted that you follow their tips or advice: No one here claimed that your way was wrong: No one here expected you to be happy with anything: No one! Understand now?

        • Matthew Shapiro
          June 23, 2016 at 1:46 am

          Holy crap, angry much? My comment was a reply to a specific comment. The comment to which I replied repeatedly states that the feature I like is redundant because *list of things they accomplish via other means*. Unfortunately none of that addresses 100% of the features we are losing, nor 100% of the ways they can be adapted to accommodate differently-abled people.

          Stay angry, bruh.

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks, Paul. You've made some nice suggestions as to how other readers can potentially escape some irritation when the App Launcher is removed in July. It does seem though that more people will be affected by its loss than I accounted for.

      Thank you for your suggestions, and thanks for reading!

  6. A41202813GMAIL ..
    May 4, 2016 at 7:21 am

    There Are Several Extensions Code IDs For CHROME Or GOOGLE Services,

    AEOIGBHKILBLLFOMKMMILBFOCHHLGDMH

    And Especially,

    BAOHINAPILMKIGILBBBCCCNCOLJKDPND

    Cheers.

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Both nice - but neither have the same taskbar functionality of the App Launcher. However, the latter seems to be pretty easy to customize, which could be quite handy.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • A41202813GMAIL ..
        June 23, 2016 at 2:46 pm

        If You, Like Me, Love Useful Extensions, Try This One:

        NDFPLMDNBNEFOMNJIKNBPEJDCEEDHDMF

        Thank You For Responding.

  7. Arturo Paz
    May 3, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Sorry to see it go. Made things much easier and quicker!

  8. Doc
    May 2, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    "...as the launchers main issue..." **launcher's** - http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe
    Learn when and where to use an apostrophe!!!

    • Riley J. Dennis
      May 3, 2016 at 10:19 am

      Obviously the author knows how to use an apostrophe, but sometimes typos slip through the editing process. There's no need to be rude about it. Please consider being more polite in the future.

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 3, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks, JD.

      Yes, I am aware of how to apostrophe good, but as my colleague correctly asserts, one has slipped through MUO editorial net into the world. I'm sorry it has offended you so.

      • Howard Blair
        May 3, 2016 at 7:44 pm

        I'm sorry, but I've become so accustomed to Gawker Networks' utter lack of proofreading, that a stupid typo can take me completely out of the flow of an article. It's like listening to a piece of music, when suddenly a car horn blasts you in the face...

        • Gavin Phillips
          May 3, 2016 at 8:23 pm

          No worries, Howard, thank you for coming back!

        • fcd76218
          May 4, 2016 at 12:49 pm

          @Howard Blair:
          Why proofread when there is spellcheck. That should be enough. :P

        • Howard Blair
          May 4, 2016 at 12:59 pm

          Spellcheck, which is essential, isn't nearly good enough to catch grammatical errors (such as subject-verb agreement, e.g. "they does spellcheck.) It also doesn't catch correctly-spelled words that are improperly used (such as "its" vs. "it's;" the latter is a contraction, not a possessive!)
          **Grammar** check would catch many of these, but it's pretty rare (the only product I know of that has it is *groan* MS Word).

        • fcd76218
          May 4, 2016 at 1:29 pm

          I was being facetious.

          It seems that each day more and more people, especially those that should know better like journalists and writers, let spellcheck be the final arbiter of their writing. Whatever happened to checking over what you just wrote?

        • Howard Blair
          May 4, 2016 at 8:43 pm

          I'm finding that more and more people don't even care. It's like they were asleep in English class throughout school, and think that because they get a paycheck out of it, that they're a "journalist." They still need to proofread and make corrections, just like the rest of us.

        • KannyDirby
          June 9, 2016 at 5:12 am

          There is an awesome little free extension for Chrome called "Grammarly" which does more of a grammar check than just a spell check, and it checks almost everything you type... you should try it out. It's very handy.

        • Howard Blair
          June 10, 2016 at 12:05 am

          I won't use Chrome - its extension system is way too weak, and Firefox's seems to be headed that way (when the time comes, I'm switching to PaleMoon) - but my boss (whose spelling is atrocious) loves Grammarly.

    • Kelsey Tidwell
      May 3, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      I grone evreetyme I see these poasts. Anals not a strong enuf werd.

      Three exclamashun points??? Wow!!!

      • Howard Blair
        May 4, 2016 at 12:48 pm

        Yur daddee must bee sew prowd of yer speeling skilz. LOL.

        • Kelsey Tidwell
          May 4, 2016 at 2:14 pm

          Yesh he is. Mommy too hee hee.

  9. Henry
    May 2, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    I have many shortcuts to various Google apps on my desktop (Google Calendar, TweetDeck, Soundcloud, etc.) and I have them set to open as their own windows. Will I still be able to do this?

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 3, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      Actually, Henry, I haven't the faintest. I would imagine as you're using manually created shortcuts rather than the Launcher, you should be fine.

    • Bill Bliss
      September 16, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      I'm using "Free Launch Bar" to group my Google App shortcuts (that was my favorite thing about the launcher, and the "apps" page just SUCKS at it)... anyway, what I've found is that if I go into the Google apps page, right-click on an app and select "Open in Window" the shortcut I've created in FLB will launch it in a window.

      FWIW

  10. Doug
    May 2, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I get the need to cut things with low usage, but this just makes no sense to me. Seems like a nominal effort to maintain and enhances my usage of Chrome Apps quite a bit. Guessing the whole thing gets blown up probably and Play Store swallows Chrome Apps.

    • Mihai
      August 14, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      After google installed this on my computer bundeed wih chrome I got used to using it and I liked it. NOW they decide to REMOVE it. How can google remove this from my computer? Does google do anything it wants on my installs? Don't I have to agree to any change made to my PC? If ti was not connected to the Internet, google coud not change anything. I think that removing this from my PC is an abuse. The removal did not come with a browser update. How can it be???

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