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New flag to put Chrome bookmarks in app launcher

Chrome has only allowed the creation of icons in the app launcher by developers for the apps themselves. However, with this new flag available for all versions of Chrome, users could soon be able to create icons in the app launcher for their favorite Chrome bookmarks. When creating icons for the app, Chrome either uses the websites favicon (the image next to the bookmark) or creates one for it.

In order for Chrome to use the favicon given by the website, it must be at least 32px, according to François Beaufort, who had originally found the flag. However, if the favicon is smaller, then Chrome will create one for the icon. It uses the most dominant color in the favicon given by the website, and uses that as the background. Then, it takes the first letter of the domain name and paints it on the front in either black or white, according to the background color.

Screenshot of a bookmark in the chrome app launcher for Windows

Screenshot of a bookmark in the chrome app launcher for Windows

You do not have to be running any specific release channel in order to utilise this flag, and it can be accessed on any platform, whether it be Windows running a Chrome browser, or Chrome OS. In order to enable this flag, you must copy and paste or type the following into the omnibox in Chrome at the top of the screen.
chrome://flags/#enable-streamlined-hosted-apps

After doing this, a page will come up with a list of flags that can be enabled. The one that you want to enable is the highlighted one at the top of your window. After enabling it, you must restart your browser by clicking the restart button at the bottom of the window.

Once Chrome restarts, it is then a simple process to add Chrome bookmarks to your app launcher.

  1. Go to the webpage you want to add
  2. Click on the ≡ (chrome menu)
  3. Go to Tools on Windows/Mac or More tools on Chrome OS
  4. Click on “Add shortcut to this website…”

The chrome bookmarks will then show as an icon in the app launcher, and can be added to the dock for Chrome OS users.

Note to Chrome OS users: After enabling this flag, I could not longer set apps to open as a regular tab, pinned tab, window, or maximized. In my case, this is a feature that became disabled. However, the experience may be different across different Chromebooks and release channels.

If you want to learn more about flags and how to enable them, watch the video below by Christian Cantrell, who does an excellent job explaining how to enable different Chrome Flags, and other advanced features of Chrome.

[youtube id="QndSTFwwOs0"]

Caution: Before going through any process of changing what a Chromebook does normally, be ready to get unexpected results. These features are still in development, so sometimes can cause problems with your browser, or cause problems in Chrome OS.

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Source: François Beaufort

Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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