Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to bring Gmail (and other Chrome apps/bookmarks) to your Windows 8 Start Menu.

As an early adopter of Windows 8, I've been a little disappointed with the utility of the operating system. One of my major frustrations is the inability pin a website to the Start Menu. (Well, strictly speaking, that isn't true - there's a technique to do it with Internet Explorer. But I'm a Chrome user, and irritated that Microsoft is plainly funneling me towards it's browser.) If you're like me, you're also a little disheartened that Google wont be creating apps for Windows 8. Luckily, though, after an afternoon of tooling around I've come up with a simple workaround that brings not only Gmail, but the full range of Chrome apps and bookmarks, straight to your Windows 8 Start menu.

Here's how!

1. Open Chrome and go to the "New Tab" menu.

2. Right Click "Gmail" (or whatever other bookmark you drag onto the New Tab screen) and Select "create shortcuts".

At this point, you can also chose to "open full screen" if you want a Metro Style (ish) app. It will still load on your Desktop.

3. Create a Desktop Shortcut.

4. On your Desktop, right-click your new icon and select "Pin To Start".

You can't pin ordinary URL shortcuts to the Start Menu, but the system views this one as a special launcher of Chrome.

5. Done! On your Start Menu you will find a unique version of your Chrome app.

You can now delete the shortcut from your desktop. It will still run!
It's an imperfect system. Even if you launch these shortcuts in "full screen mode", they will all end up on the Desktop app system, meaning you'll have to do some finicky closing of windows to jump between your apps. And, sadly, this system doesn't work for Mozilla Firefox users! But it isn't a bad way to bring Gmail to your desktop in way that doesn't involve Internet Explorer.