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Quick Tip: Use Fluid to Create Desktop Apps from Your Favorite Websites

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There are a million apps on the web that don't release desktop versions. Wouldn't it be nice if you could skip opening your browser and just create an application for your dock? Today we're going to do just that with Fluid, a free app for the Mac. It'll be simple, straightforward, and will definitely help get rid of the clutter in your browser bookmarks.

Why Use Fluid?

Fluid lets us create Desktop Apps for specific websites. But... why should we do that?

Every day, a new, modern web app pops up that's all anybody can talk about. The problem is that many of these don't release desktop apps, which forces us to create nearly permanent tabs in our browsers. Overtime, we end up with dozens of these tabs, which get increasingly difficult to manage.

Fluid lets us create desktop apps for specific websites.

Whether it's a fancy todo-list like Remember The Milk or a music app like Pandora, many web apps could be much more convenient as desktop apps. Popping them out of the browser and putting them into your dock makes it easier than ever to organize and access your favorite websites.

We'll be using the free version of Fluid in this tip as it works just as well as the paid version, so there's no need to pay a dime.

Step 1: From Web App to Fluid App

Once you've downloaded Fluid, open it up and you'll get to the main entry window. Here you can fill in your website's URL, add an app name, choose where to put your new application, and add an icon.

Fluid Main WindowFluid Main WindowFluid Main Window
You can fill in the URL, Name, Location, and Icon for your website.

We'll be making a Mactuts+ app today, but you can do this with any website you want. Put your details in, and click "create".

Step 2: Launch Your App

Success PopupSuccess PopupSuccess Popup
When you successfully create an app, you should get a popup!

A popup will appear asking you to open the app. Launch it, and you now have a new application just for your website! The actual application file will be automatically located in your Applications folder (unless you changed the location).

Mactuts+ ApplicationMactuts+ ApplicationMactuts+ Application
Success! You should now have a new application dedicated to your website.

As you can see, it's a separate app from your browser, and you can open it just like any other app. You're able to keep it in your dock and even search for it with Spotlight. The prize, however, is that you can open up your website without opening your web browser first. This means that if your task manager doesn't have its own Desktop app, you can go and make your own! Or if you need a quick link to Gmail, you're just a click away.

Step 3: Getting More Out of Fluid

Once you've created your application, you can customize it through its Preferences panel. There are options for a variety of customizations, including keeping your application fixed on top of other windows, adding transparency, and changing tab options. Also, I suggest that you go to "View" in the menubar and choose "Hide Status Bar". It'll give you a cleaner view and boost your vertical viewing space by a tad.

Mactuts+ Application PreferencesMactuts+ Application PreferencesMactuts+ Application Preferences
Check the Preferences of the app in order to customize the way it functions.

The applications Fluid makes are basically small browsers for each website you go to. This means that you can treat it like a browser too. As I said before, you can have tabs, click through links without opening your original browser, and more. Check out other features and customize the App the way you want it.

Next Steps

Here we've created a Mactuts+ app, but there's much more we can do. Try using Fluid for everything from Youtube to your favorite blog. Be sure not to go overboard with it, though. Web browsers are still the go-to method for popping around from place to place, reserve Fluid apps for those sites that you visit regularly.

In the end, having a separate window and icon for each website really gives you better control over the apps you use everyday. What do you use Fluid for? Let us know in the comments!

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