Chrome logo.

Google has been working on dozens of new features for web apps in Chrome over the past few years, making it possible for software like Photoshop to run in a browser. There’s another improvement currently in the works: borderless windows for web apps.

The Google Chrome team announced an “intent to prototype” today for “borderless mode for installed desktop web apps,” which would allow web apps installed to a computer to completely control (and change the look of) the title bar. Right now, most web apps use the default system title bar when they are installed, which also has buttons for opening Chrome menus. Web apps have the option to cover some of the title bar area right now, but not the entire area.

Window controls overlay example
Example of the current ‘Window Controls Overlay’ Google

The new feature would allow web applications to create their own close, minimize, and maximize buttons, and add any controls to the title bar area. Most web apps won’t have a need for this functionality, but some may use it to fit more content in the title bar area, just like native desktop applications. For example, applications like Slack, Discord, and Microsoft Excel use the full title bar for additional buttons and controls.

If the feature does roll out in a Chrome update, it could lead to web apps looking and feeling more like their native counterparts. Many games also use borderless windows as an alternative to full-screen mode.

Microsoft Excel image
Microsoft Excel on Mac, an example of a desktop app with a customized title bar

The current plan is for borderless windows in web apps to require granting a permission, because it would hide the security info and extensions panel that Chrome adds to all windows. It also won’t work unless you install the web app first, so those two safeguards should prevent malicious web apps from using the feature (e.g. disguising the window as a security prompt or other system service).

It’s not clear yet if other web browsers will implement the feature, assuming the limited test in Chrome doesn’t run into any problems.

Source: Google Groups

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Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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