Fluid: Turn Web Apps into Standalone Mac Apps

  • Category: Utility
  • URL: http://www.fluidapp.com/
  • Company: Celestial Teapot Software
  • Price: Free; $4.99 for premium version

If you’re like me, you use a lot of web applications — stuff like Gmail, iCloud, Soundcloud, Pandora, Basecamp etc. For running our newspaper company I’ve got business applications such as Ace of Sales, Magazine Manager, Google Analytics and Constant Contact that run in a browser window and that I’m using all the time.

And what’s the most annoying thing about running so many applications in browser windows? Finding the app’s window when you need it.

Enter Fluid for Mac. If you’ve never heard of Fluid, this might be your favorite blog post of all time.

What Fluid does is enable you to turn any Web application (or Web URL, for that matter) into a standalone application with its own icon in the Finder or on the Dock. And, my personal favorite — when the app is running, you can use the Task Switcher (Command+TAB) to literally switch between those running Web applications easily.

Switching between apps
Switching between apps

The “A” icon is Ace of Sales; you can see GMail and Magazine Manager as well; all of those are really just basic browsers running those apps, but it makes it incredibly handy for switching and finding Web apps.

Fluid uses the same basic technology that Safari does, which means that anything wonky in Safari will probably be wonky in your Fluid-built app. It can also take a little experimenting with some Fluid apps, particularly if they change domains. for instance, creating a Fluid app for this blog might look like this:

Creating a Fluid app

But, since this is actually a WordPress.com blog (for now) then to edit my blog I would need to switch to wordpress.com. When I do that, I’m kicked out of the MacBlog app and the editor launches in Safari. (I could get around that by creating a Fluid app with the domain macblogdotcom.wordpress.com, which is the WordPress URL for this blog.)

Another tip: Favicon icons don’t work well — they pixelate — so search the Web for higher-resolution icons. For most mainstream apps a number of folks have created free icons.

For all of this value, what would you be willing to pay? Fluid is free; there’s a $5 version that gives you a more discrete “instance” of each app, meaning cookies aren’t shared and you can pin the apps to the menubar.

I use Fluid every day and, for me, it makes the modern world filled with web apps much more palatable on my Mac.

Rating: Highly recommended

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