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Getting started with Chrome Apps

Not sure if the new Chrome Apps for desktop are for you? Here's a guide to tell you how they differ from regular extensions, and how to try them out right now.

Landing page for Chrome Apps for your desktop. Photo by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Last week, Google announced access to Chrome Apps for Windows and Chromebook users. What's great about using the apps is that they don't take a spot on your Chrome toolbar, or require you to launch a new tab every time you want to use them. Instead, they are stored locally for fast -- and sometimes offline -- access. To keep Chrome Apps at your fingertips, Google has created a launcher that resides on your desktop toolbar.

Chrome Apps have their own category on the Chrome Web Store. Under the Collections heading, you'll see a new label titled For Your Desktop. You may notice that this category is quite sparse when compared with the extensions and themes areas. With Chrome Apps being such a recent addition to the stable version of the browser, the lack of choices is to be expected. As these apps gain popularity and more widespread usage, you will likely see some extension developers (and others) releasing a Chrome App counterpart. Ready to try (at least) one of them?

Click on one of the apps from the selection that appeals to you. If you want apps that will work offline, look for the small lightning bolt symbol on the app's information tile. For this guide, I'm going to work with Any.Do, since it just landed on the Chrome Apps store.


Next, click the +Free button to download the app. You will see a confirmation dialogue box appear, which will require you to click Add to complete the install.


If this is your first Chrome App, you'll be taken to a page that says Chrome Apps have a new home (meaning, NOT on your New Tab page). This is a reference to the launcher that has been added to your desktop toolbar when you installed the app.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

To launch a specific app, click on its icon from within the Chrome launcher button on your desktop toolbar. The icons can also be rearranged to your liking. If you want to remove app, simply right click the icon for it and choose Uninstall.

What do you think? Are Chrome Apps going to be more useful to you with their easy access and offline modes?