Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I can easily create a "Web App" on my iPhone by going to the "arrow" menu and attaching a website to the home screen.

Is it possible to do this on OS X with, say, Gmail or YouTube or anything else?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

There's no built-in OS X behaviour that exactly matches that of iOS, but you can use what's often referred to as a site-specific browser to turn sites into OS X apps.


Fluid lets you turn sites into single apps that appear like any other OS X app — in their own windows, with separate dock icons. Pretty useful for web apps like Gmail, but you can use for on pretty much any site. It's free, but for $4.99 you get some extra features.


Like Fluid, but specifically for Gmail. Since it's specific to Gmail, it's a bit more finely tuned, with toolbar buttons for the usual sorts of mail app actions. $24.95, with a 30 day free trial.


If you don't want a third party app, you can make a very basic site-specific browser using Automator. There's a good article from Andy Ihnatko on the subject, but the short version is:

  1. In Automator, create a new Application.
  2. Add a Get Specified URLs action, and enter the URL of the page you want.
  3. Add a Website Popup action.
  4. Save it.

That will give you a standalone app you can run to get a browser for a specific site. But it's quite limited compared to solutions like Fluid or Mailplane — as the name suggests, it's more of a popup than a standalone app.

share|improve this answer
+1 Site Specific Browsers. –  user588 Oct 22 '12 at 17:46
So unfortunate. This was almost certainly a conscious decision by Apple. –  MarkovCh1 Oct 22 '12 at 19:57
Not really. The bookmark behaviour dates back to one of the first web browsers, Mosaic, when there was no concept of web "apps", just static sites. It's been fairly standard behaviour ever since. The iOS behaviour makes sense on the iOS platform, since a lot of web apps are specifically coded to make use of iOS features. That's not true with OS X however. Two different paradigms. –  robmathers Oct 22 '12 at 20:06
Do any of these things work with Google Chrome? –  MarkovCh1 Oct 24 '12 at 16:11
I'm not quite sure what you're asking. They're all effectively standalone browsers (although I suspect most of them are using the system version of WebKit, not their own renderer). –  robmathers Oct 24 '12 at 16:37

Another option is Mozilla Prism. This is my personal favorite and I've been using it for awhile. Yes, it is an "inactive" project, but it still works well. It has a simple, easy to use interface:

I put up a blog post on how to use Mozilla Prism, in which I go into more detail about the various features.

share|improve this answer

In Safari, add the website you're viewing as a bookmark, either to your bookmark bar, or the bookmark menu.

  • Click Bookmarks -> Show All Bookmarks
  • Select the option you chose (bookmark bar or menu)
  • Drag the bookmark to your desktop
  • You'll see a file with the name of your bookmark. Double-click that, and you're set.
share|improve this answer
This works, don't believe you get the custom icon though, although you can change that via various other means. –  stuffe Oct 22 '12 at 17:16
You do not need to go to the bookmarks menu, you can drag the icon directly from the address bar to the desktop. This is the behavior described in the question with the exception that the web browser does not open in a special mode the way it does on the iPhone or iPad. –  Dave Nelson Oct 22 '12 at 18:55
@DaveNelson, you're correct. For some reason, that didn't seem to work for me when I was answering the question (but can do it successfully now). –  Jonathan Oct 22 '12 at 19:05
This only creates a link to the website, it doesn't really open the site in its own window without the navigation bars, address bar, and so on. –  MarkovCh1 Oct 22 '12 at 19:56

You can create a browser chrome-free version of a page by turning it into a dashboard widget. ( full instructions here: http://www.iclarified.com/entry/index.php?enid=273).

Creating a Browser Widget on OSX

  • Open the desired page in Safari. Go to file, then "Open in Dashboard"
  • Select the portion of the page that you'd like to be visible in the
  • widget, then press "Add". This will now appear as an interactive
  • widget, free of browser chrome, on your dashboard.

This maybe isn't exactly what you want but it's similar behavior.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.