How-To Geek

Run Web Applications from Your Desktop with Mozilla Prism

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Want to quickly and easily access your favorite e-mail, social accounts, and websites from your Desktop, Quick Launch, or Start Menu? Now you can with Mozilla Prism.

Note: Prism comes in two different versions…one for the desktop and as an extension for Firefox. The desktop version is extremely stable and a pleasure to use. The extension for Firefox did exhibit a slight twitch on Web App shortcuts created with it when used (see below).

Using the Desktop Version

The desktop version of Prism is contained in a zip file. To install it, unzip the file using your favorite compressed file management software and move the folder containing Prism into Program Files. You may or may not choose to rename the folder based on your preferences. Create a shortcut to the “prism.exe” file and you are ready to go.


Once you have started Prism, this is the window that you will see. Notice that you have many options for configuring the application window and types of shortcuts desired (wonderful!). There is even an option to select the image that you would like to use for your shortcut(s).


Enter the URL of the website that you want to access with Prism, choose the name that you want for your shortcut(s), select the options that suit your needs, and decide what type of picture you want for your shortcut(s).


Here you can see a finished example. Click “OK’ to finish the process and create your new shortcut(s)!


Using the Firefox Extension

If you prefer to use the Prism extension for Firefox to create Web App shortcuts (or combined with the desktop version), open the website that you would like to create the shortcut for.


Once you have the website displayed in your browser window, go to the Tools Menu and select “Convert Website to Application…”.


The Prism window will open with part of the work already completed for you. Change or shorten the name if you desire, choose the options that you want for the application window and shortcut(s), and select a new picture for the shortcut icons if you would like to do so.


And here is the completed example for our extension created Web App shortcut


Shortcuts and Prism Application Windows

Here you can see the two Web App shortcuts created with both versions of Prism all ready to go.


Double clicking on the first shortcut (desktop version created) opens up a sleek Web App window.


In the lower right corner you can access Preferences, Printing, Page Setup and Tools by clicking on the Status Bar button.


Double clicking on the extension created shortcut did produce an unusual bit of behavior. The Web App window opened without problem but blank. This is easy to get around though. Simply click on the “Home Button” and the window will immediately display the website that you have the shortcut set up for.


Here are our two Web App windows open and ready to browse with!



Prism is a wonderful software that can make your internet life a lot simpler. No more having to open up a browser to access and open up the website that you want to visit. All that website goodness is now only a click (or double click) away!


Download the Desktop Version of Prism (version 1.0 Beta 1)

Download the Prism Extension for Firefox (version 1.0 Beta 1)

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 07/2/09

Comments (2)

  1. SuAlfons

    Hello Geeks!
    What is the general advantage of Prism after all?

    I open an application to view a website instead of the browser? I even have to push the Home button as a work around? Now that’s an improvement over dragging a weblink to your desktop.

    I guess the sense of the programs lies in making web apps offline accessible. But here is my experience on this with Google Gears:

    I did use Gears for making my Googlemail-Account (web interface) a false “default mail program”, but alas, it did not integrate like a real program (you know, opening when klicking on “send mail” in another app and so on).

    Can I achieve a real program-like behavior with prism?

    Really curious about your opinion!


  2. Aoi_sora9x

    @SuAlfons: you can prevent a certain cloud application from dying alongside the browser when the browser hangs. Basically, it gives you faster access to your website without all the extra hassles, for example, my FFx starts a bit slow because of the heaps of add-ons i installed. Using prism would allow me to go to a certain flash game site fast and without the delay.

    Still, i would like prism to have the ability to save a website’s application and work offline, like Google Gears. Too bad Google Gears doesnt support a lot of useful sites.

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