Brendan Murty

Create website shortcut apps in Chrome

11 May 2013

The Chrome Web Store offers a huge library of free and paid apps for use in the Chrome browser. However, if you're simply after a quick way to access the key websites you use day to day, creating a shortcut app doesn't require huge amounts of effort.

Chrome apps sample Some of my current shortcut apps

Basically, a Chrome shortcut app consists of two files: a plain text JSON file and an PNG image for the icon. These files should be stored in the same folder.

The image should be a 128px x 128px transparent PNG, named 128.png.

The JSON file is pretty simple, check out the example below and name it manifest.json. Customise this by updating the name, description, urls and web_url values as needed.

{
	"name": "Basecamp",
	"description": "Shortcut to Basecamp Launchpad",
	"manifest_version": 2,
	"version": "1.0.0.0",
	"icons": {
		"128": "128.png"
	},
	"app": {
		"urls": ["https://launchpad.37signals.com/"],
		"launch": {
			"web_url": "https://launchpad.37signals.com/"
		}
	},
	"permissions": ["unlimitedStorage","notifications"]
}

Now to add this shortcut app to Chrome. From the Chrome menu, select Tools > Extensions, then click the Load unpacked extension button. Browse to the folder in which these files are stored in and press OK/Confirm.

Now when you open a new tab, you should see your new icon! Also, you can customise your shortcut app by right clicking on it.

Customise shortcut app I think this one deserves a pin