Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

Windows 10 is finally here Make Today Your Launch Day: Get Windows 10 Now! Make Today Your Launch Day: Get Windows 10 Now! You're eager to install Windows 10. Unfortunately, you missed the Insider Preview and now it's taking a while until the upgrade will be rolled out to you. Here's how to get Windows 10 now! Read More , and so far the reception to it has been mixed What the MakeUseOf Team Thinks of Windows 10 What the MakeUseOf Team Thinks of Windows 10 The techsphere loves Windows 10, but many users are up in arms over serious issues with the new platform. What does MakeUseOf think? We asked our team for opinions on Windows 10 and here they... Read More . There have been stories of disasters, but nothing is perfect in life. We have to patiently tough it out while developers iron out the kinks. Nevertheless, there are still compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 10 10 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 10 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 Windows 10 is coming on July 29. Is it worth upgrading for free? If you are looking forward to Cortana, state of the art gaming, or better support for hybrid devices - yes, definitely! And... Read More .

windows10bg

We don’t have much in the way of Windows 10 apps yet, but if you are a Google Chrome user Google Gold: 15 Essential Chrome Extensions Google Gold: 15 Essential Chrome Extensions The standard Chrome experience can be made so much better with a handful of extensions. Read More , you can easily make an app out of any website, which would sit in the Start Menu, as well as Windows Explorer.

You can open them with a keyboard shortcut Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide With so many shortcuts built into Windows and its software, it might seem impossible to learn them all. Here's the ultimate guide to the most useful keyboard shortcuts. Read More , and start them minimized. Some sites look beautiful as an app, while others look like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.

Just to clarify, when I say “app,” I don’t mean a smartphone app or anything like that. Nothing downloadable. Instead, it is simply a means to open a website in its own window, from the Start Menu or from Windows Explorer.

Today we are going to show you all this and more.

Ads by Google

How to Turn Any Website Into an App

chefhat

Ingredients

  • 1x Windows 10 system
  • 1x website, freshly squeezed
  • 1x Google Chrome browser

First off, go to the website that you wish to turn into an app, in your Chrome browser.

Next, click on the Hamburger menu in the top right hand corner of the browser. That’s the three horizontal lines icon. Drop that menu down, and choose More Tools > Add to taskbar…

winapp1

This will then begin the short process to turn your website into an app. A little box will immediately pop up, where you can edit the name, or cancel the entire process. Make sure that the Open as window option is ticked – this is very important!

When the name is to your liking, and the “Open as window” option is selected, click Add.

winapp2

The app will now show itself in your Start Menu. But for it to do so, you need to enable Recently added in the Start Menu. This can be done in your Windows settings (Windows key + I > Personalization > Start > Show recently added apps > On).

winapp3

Clicking the app link will now open up the website – in this case, MakeUseOf – in a new smaller window. MakeUseOf looks absolutely fantastic in its own Windows 10 app.

winapp4

From “Recently added” you can drag the apps over to the tiles in your Start Menu.

Start Menu Web App Tiles

Other Websites that Look Great

Let’s take a look at some other websites which look great in their own Windows 10 app window like this.

Gmail

Email is something which a lot of us keep open during the day. So Gmail users can take advantage of the nice looking layout of their inbox when packaged into a Windows 10 app.

Facebook

winapp6

The same with Facebook. Who hasn’t kept this open all day on their PC monitor? Now you can have it in its own tidy little window. This one is rapidly growing on me, and I am starting to prefer it to the actual website.

Hangouts

Google Hangouts Web App

Google just recently gave Hangouts its own website: hangouts.google.com. The site already gives the impression of an app and running it in its own web app window completes that look.

YouTube

winapp7

YouTube is one of my favorite sites. After all, who doesn’t love a good laughing baby now and then? Turning YouTube into a Windows 10 app squeezes the page together, but the quality of the video thumbnails doesn’t deteriorate as a result. The end-product is a work of art. Especially YouTube TV, which apparently looks like the bees knees on a Windows tablet.

Twitter

winapp8

As well as Facebook, many of you will have Twitter open in another browser window, perhaps on another monitor. Well, have it open in a Windows 10 app window instead, a lighter, faster version than just having a browser window open.

Google News

winapp9

This is the one I REALLY like. Google News looks absolutely perfect in a Windows 10 app environment, and this is the one that I see myself using from now on, on a regular basis. It has all the features, functions, bells, and whistles of the regular site, but is faster and lighter on your system.

The Apps’ Location in Windows Explorer

For some weird reason, you can only have one app in the “Recent apps” section of your Start Menu. This makes it difficult if you have made a whole stack of these apps, and would like easy access to them. So if you didn’t add them to your Start Menu tiles and have lost track of them, you can find all the web apps you created under the following location in Windows Explorer:

C:\Users\[Your User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Chrome Apps

Or simply right-click on one of the web apps in your Start Menu and select Open file location. From there, you can double-click any app to launch it or right-click and select Pin to Start or Pin to taskbar. “Pin to Start” is available for almost any file or folder across Windows 10 (and 8 for that matter).

Change the Icon & Create a Shortcut

When you create the app, it may end up giving you a really weird, or really crappy logo. If that bothers you, then you can easily change it.

Go to the location of the apps in Windows Explorer, and right-click on the one you want to change the icon for. Choose Properties right at the very bottom, choose the Shortcut tab, and you will see this:

winapp10

The Change Icon button is highlighted, as well as the opportunity to make a custom shortcut. So if you know you will be opening this app on a regular basis, then having a quick nifty keyboard shortcut Navigating Windows with Keyboard Shortcuts Alone Navigating Windows with Keyboard Shortcuts Alone You might know lots of keyboard shortcuts, but did you know you could get around Windows without your mouse? Here's how. Read More will have that app open in a jiffy.

A Reason for Creating those Apps…

winapp11

If you needed a reason for creating those apps in the first place, then note that several times I noticed how light and fast the apps were, compared to its browser counterparts. Right now, my Chrome browser is running at 611,2MB. If you look at the app above, the apps running on their own (I had 3 open at the time) came to 138.3MB!

What Sites Are You Apping?

Obviously there are many more sites out there which would make great Windows 10 apps. Try out your favorite sites, and let us know in the comments below, which ones make the grade.

  1. JH
    May 13, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    > Right now, my Chrome browser is running at 611,2MB. If you look at the app above, the apps running on their own (I had 3 open at the time) came to 138.3MB!

    This is a little misleading.

    The apps are still just instances of Chrome; they're essentially just floating Chrome tabs. Hence they require Chrome to be running as well and just sit on top. They don't run independently.

    If you quit all the apps and Chrome, then launch an app, it will also re-launch Chrome in the background. So if your Chrome normally sits at 611MB with no visible window/tabs open, then launching your 3 apps would actually be 611MB + 138MB = 749MB total.

    They are by no means a lightweight alternative to browser tabs/windows. They *are* browser windows. They simply look a little neater and are easily pinnable.

  2. Chris
    April 29, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    I was disappointed that the chromecast button didn't work when I 'apped' netflix, but I've discovered a cool tick for Chromecast users to produce apps with chromecast support. This works great with netflix and youtube and there's no reason it won't work with other sites that support casting.

    Make sure you have the Google Cast extension installed in chrome. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-cast/boadgeojelhgndaghljhdicfkmllpafd?hl=en

    The problem is that the apped versions of the sites don't load all of your extensions (hence the memory savings in the article). You can get around this by assigning a keyboard shortcut to the extension.

    In chrome, go to settings -> extensions scroll to the bottom and select 'keyboard shortcuts'. Find 'google cast' in the list and press the key combination you want ( I used ctrl+period). Press ok.

    Now go to your 'apped' site e.g. netflix, press your new keyboard shortcut (bring up the soft keyboard if you're on a tablet) and the cast menu will magically appear in the top left corner. Press 'cast netflix.com to [name of chromecast]' and you're away!

    This get over the stingy lack of chromecast support in native windows apps :)

  3. Shy
    December 18, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Hey guys I found a workaround! apperantly ant chrome "app" will show up in the "recent" section in the start menu.. even if it's not an actual app.
    go to:
    C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\?Chrome apps
    or add achrome app, watch it show up, add it, right click on it's square and "show file location" and drag any shortcut over there :)

  4. Jeffrey
    November 20, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Awesome post; thanks for this.

    I was loving this.

    Then I installed the "Big Update" (Version 1511) for Windows 10.

    Now, the Icon won't show whatever I do.

    I've even deleted the "shortcut" and redid the App.

    Windows puts it back in the same group it was before (doesn't even show it as a Recently Added); still no icon.

    Have you seen this? Any thoughts by chance?

    • Diego
      November 23, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Same here. The icon shows everywhere, also in the taskbar, but not in the start menu.

    • Chad
      December 14, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      I was able to keep the icons from disappearing by renaming the shortcut in C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs.

      • Chad
        December 14, 2015 at 8:44 pm

        Oops. Forget that address. Just right-click the tile and then "Open file location"

      • Chad
        December 16, 2015 at 9:55 am

        Never mind. I guess I didn't have the update. So long chrome apps on Start ;(

        • Meir
          December 22, 2015 at 9:57 am

          Just edit shortcut target by prefixing it with C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /c start "x" /max

          For example

          C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /c start "x" /max "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" --profile-directory=Default --app-id=fhbjgbiflinjbdggehcddcbncdddomop

          And I'd suggest optionally to change shortcut property Run to be "Minimized"

        • Ray
          December 28, 2015 at 12:21 am

          This worked for me - briefly; until I changed the background color settings (windows seems to be willfully uglier every time they 'upgrade'), and suddenly clicking on one of these shortcuts returns:

          Windows cannot find '"x"'.

          Any ideas on why this might be? Thanks!

    • Chris
      April 28, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      I've found a solution to this based on one of the replies in the tenforums post. If you go to the chrome installation folder (default C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application) and delete the chrome.visualelementsmanifest.xml file before you follow the steps in the article, the tile will keep the correct icon. Aparently the xml file keeps coming back, so you might have to check for it before every 'apping'.

      I've also found that the chrome tools menu has 'add to desktop' rather than 'add to taskbar'. When you use this option it adds a desktop shortcut, and also a shortcut under start->'chrome apps' either of which can be pinned as a tile.

      • Jeffrey Cox
        April 29, 2016 at 1:16 pm

        Hey Chris --

        Was excited to see your comment.
        I deleted the .xml file
        I tried re-creating in chrome.
        Now they just show on the Start menu with no icon.
        Any thoughts; did you see this?

        • Chris
          April 29, 2016 at 2:03 pm

          No i didn't see this, did you delete the old version of the 'app' shortcut first?

          Right click / long tap on the tile, click '...' -> more -> open file location and delete the shortcut from there. also unpin the old tile from the start menu.

          Your new app will show up in 'recently' added and also under 'chrome apps' on the start menu under all apps -> chrome apps

          right click the new version of the app and select 'pin to start'

          BTW does chrome say 'add to taskbar' or 'add to desktop'?

        • Chris
          April 29, 2016 at 2:37 pm

          Failing that, the tenforums post mentions changing the icon to any other random one, and them back to the one you want. I didn't need to do that, but it might be worth a try if you're still having problems.

        • Jeffrey Cox
          May 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm

          I did delete them. And, actually, these are new ones I'm making.
          My Chrome says "add to desktop"
          I tried the "changing icon" thing. No go.
          I'll have to put this on the back burner for now. But, I wanted to thank you for the response. I really appreciate it.

  5. Timothy Poplaski
    August 28, 2015 at 10:42 am

    This works really well for the mobile version of the Google Voice page. (I just tried it, so don't know if it'll auto-update).

    I suspect it'll work well for other mobile "app" web substitute pages as well.
    '

    • Mark O'Neill
      August 28, 2015 at 10:49 am

      With the exception of email and social media, a lot of pages need to be manually refreshed. Let me know what Google Voice does. I would be very interested to know.

      • Timothy Poplaski
        August 28, 2015 at 3:25 pm

        Sadly, no refreshing. Still, with Pushbullet notifying me of changes, it's not all that bad to manually refresh them.

        I expect there's a way to refresh on a timer. If you find something reliable, please let us know :) Google Voice has a small but very loyal following that'd love a decent "desktop app" of some sort :)

  6. Yodi Collins
    August 27, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    A question and a suggestion:

    -- Question: what app/application/technique do you use to blur personal data in your screen shots?

    -- Suggestion: another article that discusses ways to customize the tiles for the apps created using this method (for both Chrome and MS Edge). I'm at a loss.

    • Mark O'Neill
      August 27, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      I personally use SnagIt for blurring screenshots, but my version is for Windows only and it costs $50. When I am on my Mac, I just create white bars or black bars using the basic image editor. It's a bit crude but I am yet to find a Mac app that blurs, like SnagIt does.

      In what ways do you want the tiles customized? I have already shown how to change the icon. What other ways would you like to see an article cover?

      • Yodi Collins
        August 27, 2015 at 3:49 pm

        I download icons from icon8.com for the tiles, which are pretty boring. I need to know where in Windows to place the downloaded icons in order to add them to the pool of available icons for the system. When you select the "Change Icon" option, a selection of available icons appears. I need to know where to put the downloaded icons so that they are included in that selection and can be used to update the tiles. As it stands, I get a tile with a colored rectangle bearing a letter, and that's not working for me. The tiles for Microsoft Edge are even worse.

        • Tina Sieber
          August 27, 2015 at 6:53 pm

          Regarding the location of the icon, when you follow Mark's instructions from above, you'll see the location of the icon in the "Look for icons in this file:" line at the top of the Change Icon window, which comes up once you click the Change Icon... button. Here you can also click Browse... and look for icons anywhere on your computer.

          In other words, put the icons anywhere that's easy to find for you, then click Browse... and go there to select them.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 27, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      To blur or pixelize sections of images you can also use IrfanView, which is free (our IrfanView review). The respective features can be found under Image > Effects.

      • Yodi Collins
        August 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm

        I'm going to try this one. Thanks!

      • Mark O'Neill
        August 28, 2015 at 10:32 am

        A pity Irfanview is only for Windows though. It's a bit unbelievable how difficult it is to find a Mac equivalent.

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 28, 2015 at 12:40 pm

          +1 for Irfanview alternatives everywhere. I can't believe no one has made alternatives for all platforms, or a web app for that matter.

  7. Yodi Collins
    August 26, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    I am using the functionality in both Edge and Chrome but didn't know how to change the icons. Now I do! Thanks!

    • Mark O'Neill
      August 27, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      You're welcome. Glad I could help.

  8. Rick Lievano
    August 26, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Why would you need Chrome? You can just 'Pin to Start' any website from the Edge '...' menu.

    • Andrew Swan
      August 27, 2015 at 5:25 am

      Because there is quite a lot that Edge is still incompatible with (NPAPI plugins, all extensions...)

    • Tina Sieber
      August 27, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      Yes, you can do that and it will open the website in Edge.

      With the method above, the site won't just open in Chrome, it will open in its own app window, with none of the space-hogging browser bars present.

  9. Stephen Woolley Sr
    August 26, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Google Docs seems to work quite well as an app.

    • Mark O'Neill
      August 27, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Really? I will have to check that one out. Thanks for the tip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *