Until recently, Chrome’s create shortcut option in the ⋮ menu had an option to ‘open as window’. With this option now missing in action, here are two alternative ways to create a chromeless Chrome window.

A chromeless browser window is one that has no features commonly referred to as window chrome around the edges. Instead, these windows omit all of the standard browser toolbars, URL address bars, buttons, menus, and icons, leaving you with nothing but a title and the webpage or web app in full view.

Google Calendar in a chromeless window
Google Calendar acting like a first-class app, replete with taskbar button and no mention of the Chrome browser anywhere.

Why would you do this, you ask?  Often, using a webpage in this way looks and feels just like using a native app.  For news and online services like email, this distraction-free window can give you more room for your content. On Windows, this also means the site has a dedicated button on your taskbar and Start menu for easily launching it, and appears as an app when you press alt-tab. Some sites can even work offline, meaning you can use their website regardless of whether you have an active Internet connection.

A great example is my Google Calendar, pictured above with a dedicated taskbar icon showing the actual date on it, and the window itself looking nothing at all like a typical browser. Indeed, it looks like a dedicated calendar program running on my desktop.

Unfortunately, creating such a browser window has just become a bit more complicated. Instead of simply choosing “Create Shortcut” from the Chrome menu, now it requires a few more steps, and there are at least two methods of achieving this result.

For reasons only Google knows, the latest updates to Chrome have removed this handy checkbox.

Method One: Using Chrome (recommended)

  1. Go to the site you wish to open as a dedicated window, such as cmdrkeene.com or calendar.google.com.
  2. From the ⋮ menu, choose More Tools, then Create Shortcut. The shortcut will appear on your desktop, in your Start menu, and on the Chrome apps page (which is where you’ll go next).
  3. Click Apps on your bookmarks bar, or go directly to chrome://apps in the address bar.
  4. Right-click your new shortcut and choose “Open as Window”

Method Two: Using Windows

  1. Right-click an empty area on your desktop, choose New, then Shortcut.
  2. Type the command below, replacing the website with the one you wish to open up in a dedicated window:
    chrome --app=https://cmdrkeene.com
  3. Click Next and give your shortcut a name and finish.

I recommend method one because it will use the site’s default icon and be more recognizable than a generic web shortcut icon. You can always customize your shortcut icons, but having it use the site icon from the start is super convenient.

After using either of those methods, you can optionally drag the desktop icon to your taskbar to create an easy shortcut you can reach even if your desktop is obscured by other apps. And if you want, you can also delete the now redundant desktop shortcut.

Other benefits

On Windows in particular, these windows are far more functional than many apps you’ll find in the Microsoft Store. For example, while the actual Facebook Messenger app from the store is huge (500 MB for a chat app?!), buggy and prone to crashes and freezes, creating a chromeless Chrome shortcut to messenger.com is far more functional and responsive, and feels like using a true messaging program instead of a browser. You can even drag-and-drop pictures and file attachments into conversations.