Archive for November, 2010

2010-11-19

Chrome – Using a website as an application

I really enjoy using GMail for my e-mail tasks. It’s a great service and a great interface with quick and easy keyboard shortcuts. I usually keep a browser tab or window open all the time with http://mail.google.com loaded. The problem is, I use GMail more like an application than a web page. If I turn to another tab within the same browser window, I don’t readily see my GMail “app” anymore, because it has then become an inactive tab in that window.

One solution to this could be to have one browser window open at all time, which has no other tab in it than the GMail tab. A whole window dedicated to GMail solves the problem once and for all. It’s always the active tab, and it has the added benefit of getting its own item in the task bar (or the Window List as we GNOME folk like to call it). That way I can even see whether I have any new e-mails or not just by looking down slightly to the window list. I don’t even have to open the browser window at all!

But, believe it or not, we can actually do even better than this! With Google Chrome (or the other version of Google Chrome which is unbranded by Google – Chromium – which is the one I use).

There is something rather unnecessary with the solution described above. It’s not the fact that a whole window is dedicated to just GMail. We’ve covered the benefits of that. It’s the fact that the window still has a tab bar, address bar and various other interface elements. This is unnecessary because we don’t intend to use them! Remember, this was meant to be a window dedicated to just GMail.

What you can do about this is to create a Launcher on our desktop or quick launch area or wherever you prefer, where you launch Google Chrome/Chromium with the following flag added:

--app="http://mail.google.com/"

This will launch the URL given in the quotes and strip the interface elements from the browser window. It will also use the favicon of the page as the icon for the window list/task bar item which will make it easier to spot among the other items.

Below is an image to show you just how minimal the window is after running Chrome with that added flag.

Creating the launcher will not be covered here. Please see the documentation of your operating system on how to create launchers or shortcuts or whatever they might be called.

Advertisements
Tags: , , ,