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chrome web appsAs you might know, Google Chrome OS (with Chromium, its Open Source Cousin) is scheduled to be released some time later this year. The interface to the OS is more or less like the Chrome web browser you use these days. Creators tout advantages like sandbox runs, always updated OS and hassle free usage.

However, people have been wondering how in the world would you be able to use such an OS for all the tasks that you might need to do on your computer? Well if Google had its way, you would see Google services for everything. With Docs and Spreadsheets being constantly improved, PDF support and viewing being added, Gmail getting better by the day and photo editing support within Picasa, they have many of the common uses covered.


Now, add to that the fact that the Chrome web browser lets you install apps a lot like you do on your mobile phones. Yes, you read that right, there are plans for a Chrome Web Store, that will be housing web apps, games and utilities you will be able to add to your browser and do all kinds of things.

While we have showed you how you can try out the Chrome OS How To Run Google Chrome OS From A USB Drive [Windows] How To Run Google Chrome OS From A USB Drive [Windows] Read More , you don’t have to go that far to try out Chrome Web Apps. All you need is the Dev Channel of Google Chrome. Google Chrome web browser, if you don’t know, has a number of channels. The Dev channel gets updates faster than the BETA channel, but is believed to be less thoroughly tested.

However, I always run the Dev channel and from my experience I can say that if you are not running a production critical task, you can perhaps run the Dev channel safely (there might be an odd crash or two).

Get The Dev Channel

If you are starting anew with Google Chrome, subscribing to a particular channel is easy. All you need to do is download and run the appropriate installer and it will install the Google Chrome version corresponding to that particular channel.

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Here are the links to various installers:

If however you already have Google Chrome installed on your computer and you decide to switch channels, you should back up your profile data and then install Google Chrome from the required channel.

Enable Web Apps Support

Once you have the Dev channel running on your computer, you still need to enable support for Web Apps. Remember that this is an experimental feature for now so keep it in mind if you see stability issues (it has been working like a charm for me).

Here is what you need to do:

  • Add the “–enable-apps” and “–apps-panel” switch to the Chrome executable. You can either run chrome.exe from the command line with this switch or create a batch file for the same. An even better solution is to modify the Chrome shortcut to include the switch, within the target box, just like this:

chrome web apps

  • Fire up Chrome and it should start with web apps support enabled. To verify, just hit “Ctrl + T” and you should see a floating panel instead of the new tab’s page!

How To Use Web Apps

After you have switched to the Dev Channel and enabled support for Web Apps, you will want to play with some web apps and see how they feel and behave.

Head over to the extensions manager inside Google Chrome. Enter chrome://extensions in the address bar.

  • Expand the Developer Mode link towards the top right corner.

chrome web apps

  • Click on “Load Unpacked Extensions”. Browse to Users/<your username>/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/Application/<Chrome version>/Resources folder (for Windows users, Mac Users look inside ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/, Linux users – ~/.config/google-chrome/). There you will find 3 default apps provided by Google for Gmail, Docs and Calendar. Click on any of these folders and choose OK. This will install the web app.

web internet tools apps

  • Now hit Ctrl + T and you should see something like this :

web internet tools apps

  • Click on Gmail and it will load as a separate Application tab towards the left of your tab bar.

Go on, give it a try and let us know how you like it. Would it be possible to create web apps that will replace desktop apps and let you use and work only from your browser?  It is also easy to create your own Chrome web apps but that is however best left for another day!

  1. Amaan 1996
    September 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I don't have any of the default web apps. Just the Temp folders and shit. Running Linux, 7.0.503.1 dev.

    • Amaan 1996
      September 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm

      Never mind. It's in /opt/google/chrome/resources

  2. Johan Klos
    August 21, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Hmmm, after playing with it a bit, wouldn't it be more logical to open the app in the special tab itself instead of a new tab? But meh, this is alpha, I guess, maybe it'll change.

  3. Johan Klos
    August 21, 2010 at 6:01 am

    Seems to work with the Chromium builds$ as well:
    http://build.chromium.org/buildbot/snapshots/chromium-rel-xp/

  4. Grs3
    August 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    how do yo access them from Chrome OS or Chromium. I just installed the version that you have for Virtual Machine

    • Johan Klos
      August 21, 2010 at 6:15 am

      I got it to work with the latest Chromium build (56982 : 7.0.510.0). Just make a shortcut to the chrome.exe and change the target in the shortcut to have "-enable-apps -apps-panel' at the end.

  5. Dwoolrog
    August 20, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    How well does it compare with Jolicloud, in your opinion?

  6. jhpot
    August 16, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    This seriously seems cool, but I'm going to wait for it to hit stable. I use my web browser too much to mess with it...

  7. Anon
    August 15, 2010 at 2:55 am

    The webapps were working fine until it updated a few days. Now the webapps dobt have icons and launcg strangely. They lost the show url bar option and turn to pinned tabs on reboot.

    Anyone else (Happened around 12 Augupdate )

  8. Anon
    August 15, 2010 at 12:55 am

    The webapps were working fine until it updated a few days. Now the webapps dobt have icons and launcg strangely. They lost the show url bar option and turn to pinned tabs on reboot.

    Anyone else (Happened around 12 Augupdate )

    • pceasies
      August 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      Looks in the latest 6.0.490.1 version for me fine. You might have to manually type in the switches since copy and paste might put a dash in instead of 2 hyphens. When I press CTRL-T it also opens a sort of temp page instead of the regular new tab. App tabs look just like pinned tabs, just you can't unpin from the menu and the favicon is bigger. (I think it used to make the tabs half height, but I've never seen it do that before)

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