Pour Yourself a Homemade App with Fluid – Tony’s Tech Tips

by Tony Gamble

Hey, Mac users! Have you ever wanted to keep your Facebook page open on the side? Or maybe YouTube? Sure, you can tear off a tab from Safari or Chrome, but that’s just another window, with no identifiable presence on the Dock. Sure, there are plenty of neat little apps out there, like MenuTab and Social, but what I wanted was the exact Facebook page as it appears in the browser, available to me as an application I can set to launch at startup. Enter Fluid for Mac OS X.

Fluid is essentially a WebKit browser, but with a suite of controls and settings that make it easy to turn any website or web application into its own desktop app. Brilliantly developed by former Apple Dashboard Engineer Todd Ditchendorf, Fluid’s simple startup dialog feels right at home on my iMac.

Fluid Startup Dialog

The first thing the base application needs to know is the URL of the site. Let’s use Facebook as an example.

Set URL - Fluid

The name, of course, can be whatever you like.

Set App Name - Fluid

And the location is equally flexible, but I prefer to keep my Applications in one place.

New App Directory - Fluid

The icon can easily be pulled from the website’s favicon, which is the little custom icon that appears next to the URL in your browser’s address bar. You could also just as easily use any high quality icon file, like one of these from Interfacelift.

New App Icon - Fluid

With just those four simple pieces of information, you click the Create button and voilà! You’ve got yourself a homemade Facebook app. As soon as the app is built, Fluid gives you the choice to launch it right away. If you’d like to keep it in your Dock, right-click on the new app’s icon, move to Options, then click Keep In Dock.

Set Persistent Dock Icon

The preferences of your new Facebook app give you some very handy features, such as the Window Level with the option to keep the app’s window always on top, and the ability to turn the window’s drop shadow off.

Fluid is available as a fully functioning free app, but for a few bucks you get some premium features I can’t wait to try out. For one, you can set your homemade app’s cookie storage to be separate from Safari, which means one could create multiple Facebook apps, each with its own login. Add to that the ability to pin your app to the Status Bar and to go full screen! Sold!

Do you use any cool apps to make your tech tuckered workday move along more smoothly? We’d love to hear about them. Let us know in the comments.

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