Apps chrome

How to Install and Use PWA Apps on Chromebook

PWA abbreviation for Progressive Web Apps have taken over in recent years as one of the most sought-after applications by users. PWAs are really web apps this to install on a number of devices that modern web browsers can run on. This includes smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs, Linux computers and Chromebooks, etc. To quote the website directly;

“Installed Progressive Web Apps run in a standalone window instead of a browser tab. They can be launched from the user’s screen home screen, dock, taskbar or shelf. It is possible to to look for for them on one device and switch between them with the app switcher, making them feel like part of the device they’re installed on.

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Think of PWAs as shortcuts to websites on your smartphone or computer, but on steroids. This is because they are much more supercharged than a regular shortcut. They gain access to system resources and hardware such as file system, GPS, USB devices which makes them feel and work like naively installed applications on your computer.

The most used Chromebook apps are the Chrome extension and Android apps and more recently Linux apps. PWAs expand your options of apps you can use on Chromebook.

How to install a PWA app

A PWA application is identified by a small computer monitor icon with a down arrow on the right side of the address bar, as you can see in the image below. When you click on this icon, you will see a prompt asking if you want to install the app.

Install the PWA app

For example, to install, a popular image hosting website on your Chromebook, click install. The application will launch on a dedicated browser window, but without the other browser UI elements such as the address bar and navigation buttons.

PWA unsplash installed

You can also pin the PWA app to your shelf by simply right-clicking the app icon and then selecting Pin. You can now launch the app from the shelf by clicking on it.

Pin unsplash PWA app to Chrome OS shelf

As mentioned, the PWA app can be searched from the system launcher just like any other apps installed on your Chromebook.

You can search for the PWA application by clicking the search/all button
PWA app is available in system app launcher

Almost all popular web services such as YouTube, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram have PWAs. My favorite PWAs include a photo editing app Pixlr, SpotifyUI/UX design app figma.