Turn Google Plus & Other Web Apps Into Desktop Apps With WebRunner [Firefox]

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turn web apps into desktop programsIt seems that everybody in the tech world thinks the future is in the cloud. Using faraway cloud servers, computer users can open applications anywhere via any browser no matter what the operating system is and what the computer/device specifications are.

The problem is, we are not completely living in that future yet. Most people are still not ready to leave their desktop to go to the cloud. Opening cloud applications inside a browser doesn’t feel like opening an application at all. Those web applications may easily be ‘lost’ among many other open tabs, and continuously looking for them may be a bit annoying.

That’s why some people would love the ability to turn web apps into desktop programs, which you can open independently. One of the tools that you can use to do that is called WebRunner. We mentioned this extension a few years ago, back when it was called Prism.

From The Webtop To The Desktop

The first thing you have to do is open the WebRunner page with Firefox. Then download the extension that matches your operating system. As far as I know, a Firefox extension should work fine under Windows, Mac, and Linux, so I don’t know why they created three different versions for these three OS’s.

turn web apps into desktop programs

Please bear in mind that I took screenshots for this article using Firefox for Mac. There might be some slight differences if you are using another OS.

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Confirm the installation by clicking the “Install Now” button. You will need to restart Firefox before you can use the extension.

turn web apps into desktop app

You can enable (and disable) the extension by going to the “Add-ons” menu under “Tools“.

turn web apps into desktop app

Armed with WebRunner, converting web apps or any other kind of webpage into desktop apps is as easy as clicking a few buttons.

There are lots of web apps out there, and the number seems to multiply every day. At the time of writing, one of the hottest web apps in the virtual world is Google Plus. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on the invite, why don’t you try to convert Google Plus into a desktop app using WebRunner?

  • First, visit Google Plus using Firefox.

turn web apps into desktop app

  • Then click “Create WebRunner App” under the “Tools” menu.

turn web pages into apps

  • The “Web Application” window will open. There are several things you can customize in this window, such as the URL, the name, and which browser elements you want to show in the desktop application.

turn web pages into apps

  • You can add a shortcut on the Desktop and/or Applications Folder (or Program Files in Windows) for easier access if you want to. But I think you should at least put a shortcut in one of those locations. You can uninstall the application simply by deleting the shortcut.

turn web pages into apps

  • As for the application’s icon, you can use the default icon that comes with the web app by choosing “Use image from web” from the drop down menu. The “Choose image” option will allow you to browse your hard drive for your preferred image. Click “OK” to finish the process.

02e icon chosen

In case you are wondering, the Google Plus icon that I use came from David Walsh’s site

Then the desktop application will be ready inside your application folder. You can do every action that you normally do with your desktop applications with this new app. You can start the application with your OS, assign shortcut keys to quickly summon it, and the most important one – launch it without having to launch your browser.

02f app folder

This is what the Google Plus desktop app looks like. The first time you open it, you will be asked to log into your Google account. You don’t have to repeat the login process as long as you don’t wipe the cookies.

02g the app

Other Web Apps

You can repeat the process to convert other web apps or your favorite websites/blogs into desktop apps. The first web app that came to my mind is Angry Birds Chrome. I converted it out of curiosity to see whether the game would be saved if I quit the app and restarted it later. It turns out that I could continue from where I left off!

turn web apps into desktop programs

There’s a similar tool for Mac called Fluid which uses Safari to power the converted desktop app.

Have you used WebRunner? What web apps would you turn into desktop programs? Share your list using the comments below.

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Comments (10)
  • Jonathan Roman

    If you Pin app to Taskbar it doesn’t show you the icon any more on win7 help !!!

    • Anonymous

      I’ve tried this on Win 7 and the icon appeared on the taskbar. Maybe you could try to put the icon on the desktop first, create a copy (just to be safe), then right click on the desktop icon to pin it on the taskbar.

    • Jonathan Roman

      I tried thanks to your recommendation first on desktop to taskbar and it work’s, but now every time i reopen the app from the taskbar place the same app running at side of the originally pin one… 

    • Anonymous

      Hi Jonathan, I can’t duplicate your error. I don’t know what’s wrong and I can’t give you solution. Sorry.

      Perhaps other readers can help?

  • Chrisbob

    Webrunner isn’t compatible with Firefoc v.6

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing. Maybe it’s because v. 6 is still in Beta?

  • Profroebuck

    Apps never make it beyond the opening crash with what I have tried.  Firefox 5.1.

    • Anonymous

      I have tried WebRunner under Windows and Mac without any problem. I use the latest stable release Firefox 5.0.1.

  • oqpie

    Could you please explain how to do this with Windows 7?

    • Anonymous

      The steps are exactly the same uder Windows. But the “Tools” menu only visible if you enable the Toolbar via “View – Toolbar”.

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.