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How to play with Google Chrome Web Apps right now

Over at TechCrunch, MG Siegler has posted images of some Chrome Web apps installed and working in Chromium -- but it's worth knowing that you can already play with a handful of apps in Google Chrome as well. If you're running the Chrome dev channel, here's how you do it.

First, add some command line switches to your Chrome shortcut:

--enable-apps : turns on extension apps, otherwise you'll get an error when you try to install them.
--apps-panel : (optional) instead of loading the new tab page, Chrome will display a floating panel above the current tab

If you need help adding command line switches to Google Chrome, check our how-to post!

Now, on to the good stuff: installing the trio of Google apps!


Here's a (not-so-well-kept) secret: Google Chrome has been shipping a handful of extension/web apps for quite some time. They're hiding in a folder called resources -- which you'll find in your Chrome profile folder. On Windows, look in %localappdata%\Chromium\Application\6.0.428.0\Resources. Linux users can check in /opt/google/chrome/resources/.

Mac users, feel free to share the path in the comments! Scroll to the end to see the Mac version, contributed by Spenser Jones! Our thanks!!

Remember that path... you're going to need to browse to it three times (assuming you want to install all three apps).

Head to your Google Chrome extensions tab (chrome://extensions) and make sure you see the developer mode buttons above. If you don't, click the plus next to the text to reveal them.

Now click load unpacked extension... and drill down to the folder you located above.

Click into the folder of the app you want to install (like gmail_app), then click OK. If the install is successful, Chrome will refresh your Extensions page and you should now see the icon for the app.


** Alternatively, you can paste the full path into the Folder: text box if you wish -- just browse to the app in your file manager and copy the full path once you're inside an_app folder (e.g. C:\Users\Lee\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\6.0.453.1\Resources\gmail_app) .


Now, let's load an app! Just click the new tab button (or press ctrl + t) and click one.

Sexy, no? Notice the difference in the tabs? App tabs don't use crummy little favicons -- they use full-color .PNG images which are packed with the apps.

As for the actual differences, you'll have to help me out -- point out what you notice in the comments! So far, the Google apps seem to work the same as a pinned tab -- just with nicer icons.
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Spenser's Instructions for Mac users (you should be able to simply substitute Chrome for Chromium if you're running the dev channel):
  • Open your /Applications folder, and right click on Chromium.app, then choose "Show Package Contents"
  • Navigate to Contents/MacOS, and rename Chromium to Chromium-Exec
  • Create a file called Chromium, with the contents (its two lines): #!/bin/sh exec /Applications/Chromium.app/Contents/MacOS/Chromium-Exec --enable-apps --apps-panel $@
  • Open terminal and run chmod +x /Applications/Chromium.app/Contents/MacOS/Chromium
  • Restart Chromium
  • Navigate to Chromium.app/Contents/Versions/{Your Version}/Chromium Framework.framework/Resources in finder
  • Open the extension manager, click "Developer Mode", and click "Load Unpacked Extension"
  • Drag the folder of the app you want (eg. gmail_app) from finder into the open dialog of Chromium, click Open
  • Repeat until you've added all the apps you want

Tags: chrome, dev, extensions, google, how to, HowTo, tutorial, web apps, WebApps

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