How to run Google Keep in a window on the desktop like a Mac app

How to run Google Keep in a window on the desktop on the Apple Mac running macOS Sierra

Google Keep is a great app for storing notes and some people prefer it to the Notes Mac app. This guide shows how you can run it on the desktop like a regular Mac app. It is much more convenient.

A long time ago and with an old version of OS X I showed how to add a Google Keep icon to the Dock to enable it to be opened in its own window.

Sadly, Google is discontinuing desktop apps and everything that used to be an app must be converted to the web. What if you want to run Keep like an app?

When Keep is accessed in a browser at it opens with all the usual browser clutter like an address box, tabs, toolbar buttons and so on. It is OK, but it is not as nice as it used to be.

When it was possible to run Keep as an app, it opened in a small, neat window on the desktop without all the usual browser window clutter. It was like Keep was a regular Mac app.

How do you do that now?

By creating an application using Automator to start Google Chrome in app mode without the browser clutter.

1 Use Automator

Open Automator in the Applications folder and click the New Document button. When it asks you to choose a document type, select Application.

Use Automator on the Apple Mac to create apps for macOS

2 Use a shell script

Type shell into the search box and then click and drag Run Shell Script to the right hand side. This is where your app is built.

Type, or better still, copy and paste this command into it. It is all one command and all on one line (it might break in two on the web page).

"/applications/Google Chrome" --app=

Automator on the Apple Mac creating an app for macOS

3 Save it

Go to the File menu and select Save. Save it to the Applications folder and name it Google

Run your app and Keep opens in its own window on the desktop like a Mac app.

Google Keep running in a window on the desktop on the Apple Mac using macOS Sierra

4 Add Keep to the Dock

Adding an icon to the Doc is now a trivial task. Drag the Google Keep app you created from the Applications folder and drop it on the Dock. The other icons shuffle around to make space for it.

How does it work?

It is the --app= that makes Chrome open a window like an app without the usual browser clutter. (You could replace that URL with a different one - it isn't specific to Keep.)

All we have to do is pass this to the Google Chrome app when starting it.

There is a problem here and an app is not really a program. It is a folder and this complicates matters.

If you Ctrl+click the Google in the Applications folder there is a menu option to Show Package Contents. Select it and Finder opens the app folder. Open the MacOS folder within this and in there is the real Google Chrome app.

This is what we must run and the command is:

"/applications/Google Chrome"

Quotes are needed because there are spaces in the name. You can type this, or the whole Automator command, at a Terminal command prompt and you’ll see that it opens Chrome.





Hi, thanks for this great tip. Can I also use this with Firefox? When I replace Chrome with Firefox in your script and I run the app, firefox just opens normally.

No. These commands are only for Chrome.

Is there a way to get an actual Google Keep icon for the automator app, rather than the generic icon?

Never mind; I figured it out. Download a Google Keep icns file, open it with Preview, click Edit-Copy. Go to the automater app and right click and select Get Information. Right click on the tiny robot icon at the top left corner of the info window. Press Command-V to paste the Preview image. Thanks for the nice tutorial on creating the script.

Thanks for the icon tip!

Thank you for asking and then answering my next question ☺️

This hack doesn't seem to work on my MacBook Pro running Sierra. It just shows .ICNS in the icon itself rather than the Google Keep icon.

Instead what seems to work is just dragging and dropping the .ICNS file onto the Google icon in Get Info.

For people who are lazy, or would like a simpler, more customisable approach, try fluid!

Thanks for this, it looks interesting and I'll have to try it some time. It's free too, and I like free stuff the best!

command pasted in needs to be case sensitive; see below /Applications/Google\\ Chrome --app=

The command is not case sensitive on my Mac.

Thank you for this nice article. I've added a little tweak, because if you start Google Keep using your command and Google Chrome is already opened for browsing, then the Google Keep Window uses the same Google Chrome instance. I often press CMD + Q to quit apps and if I quit Google Keep, my Google Chrome window for browsing is also closed. Therefore I added the following command line option: --user-data-dir=~/.googlekeep After this, a new Google Chrome instance is started which stores its user data not in the default location but under <USER_HOME>/.googlekeep.

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