How to Run Websites as Apps on Mac Using Chrome-based Epichrome

We’re moving to a web app world. Instead of apps, you increasingly use services that run as tabs in your browser. Lots and lots of tabs. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in all the tabs. When everything is a tab, there’s no segregation. Your super important work email and that GIF you found on Reddit get the same level of importance. That’s just not right.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to compartmentalize, it’s better to turn all those services into apps. Also, this way you can run different accounts in the same service independently (like your work Gmail account and your personal account).

Long-time Mac users will be ready to scream Fluid by now. Yes, it’s a great app, but it uses Safari as a base, and if you want independent cookies and history for each “app” (and you really do), you need to pay $5.

Now there’s a free and open source option in Epichrome. What’s better, it uses Chrome as a base (you’ll need to have Chrome installed), so you’ll be able to use all the services like Google Docs suite that don’t work best in Safari.

Head over to the project’s Github page and download the latest version. The app is basically a step-by-step installer for turning a website into an app. Here’s how it works.

1. Launch Epichrome and click “OK” to start the process.

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2. Enter the name that should appear in the menu bar. In this example I’m creating an app for my personal Gmail address, so I’m calling it “Gmail Web App.”

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If you want to tag it with a special color, you can. At the end, select where to store the app. You can create a special folder if you want to group all the web apps in one place.

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3. You’ll be asked to choose an app type. Don’t worry; you can switch them later if you want.

App window mode will show the website basically like an app. You won’t see any tabs or other browser elements. In this mode clicking links will open them in your main Chrome window.

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Browser tabs mode will show a browser-like UI where links will open in new tabs in the same window.

I’d say go with “Browser tabs” mode.

4. Paste in the URL for the website and click “OK.” If you choose “Browser tabs” mode, you can add multiple domain names for the app to start with.

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5. Select whether or not you’d like to register the app as a browser.

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6. If you want to provide a custom icon, click “Yes.” A file picker for an image file will show up. You can skip the process by clicking “No.”

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7. You’ll now just see a summary of everything you’ve previously selected. If you’re ok with it, just select “Create,” or you can go “Back” to edit the options.

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You can repeat this process as many times as you want to create new apps. To launch an app, just use Spotlight search (“Cmd + Space” keyboard shortcut), and start typing the app’s name to find it.

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The most important thing you need to know is how to change the app mode. Use the keyboard shortcut “Cmd + L” to enable the app style window. “Cmd + Shift + L” will switch you to a tab style window.

Epichrome doesn’t have many options. It does come with a helper app that’s an extension. From the menu bar select “Window -> Extensions” and below “Epichrome Helper,” select “Options.”

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From here you can add custom rules for any site you want.

Which websites did you turn into apps using Epichrome? Share with us in the comments below.