How to Make a Taskbar Icon for Any Website on a Chromebook

On a Chromebook, only apps from the Chrome Web Store typically get their own taskbar icons and separate windows. But you can give any website its own taskbar icon and make it open in a separate window, effectively turning any website you like into an “app.”

The taskbar is technically called the “shelf” on Chrome OS, but it works just like the the taskbar does on Windows. You can pin websites to it, just as you’d pin websites to the Windows taskbar with Chrome on Windows.

Pin a Website to the Taskbar

To do this, first visit the website you want to add to your taskbar on your Chromebook. Click the menu button at the top-right corner of the Chrome window, point to “More tools,” and select “Add to shelf.”

Type a name for the shortcut when your Chromebook requests it. If you want the shortcut to open the website in its own browser window, click the “Open as window” checkbox. If you don’t enable this, the shortcut will just launch the website in a normal browser tab.

Click “Add” when you’re done.

Window Management Tricks

You can now click the shortcut on your Chrome’s shelf — the taskbar — and that website will open in its own window or a browser tab.

A website in its own window is easy to switch between using the Alt+Tab shortcut, the “Switcher” key on your keyboard (  ) or, the Alt + 1-8 keys. You can also just click its icon on the shelf, of course.

That separate window can be snapped to either side of your Chromebook’s screen. To do so, you can either drag and drop the window to the left or right edge of your screen and let it go or press Alt + [ and Alt + ].

You could also click the “Maximize” button at the top-right corner of the app’s window and hold down the mouse button. Move the cursor to the left or right arrow to select the side of the screen you want to snap the window to.

You can use any of these tricks to quickly snap other windows to other sides of your screen, too — including browser windows.

Remove or Tweak the Shortcut

If you no longer want the shortcut, just right-click the shortcut on your shelf –perform a two-finger tap to do this on a Chromebook’s touchpad — and select “Unpin.” You can also right-click a shortcut and toggle the “Open as window” option to control whether these shortcuts open in windows or not.

This is a convenient solution, but Google doesn’t make it quite as easy as it should. For example, you can’t simply drag-and-drop a bookmark, link, or website icon to the shelf to easily create shortcuts. To do this, you’ll have to know the option exists and dig into the “More tools” option in the menu. But, once you do, it’s simple to fill up your Chromebook’s taskbar — sorry, its “shelf” — with shortcuts to all your favorite websites.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.