Google announced last summer that Chrome apps were being discontinued. What does this mean for users of Google Keep, one of the company’s best tools? Here are some top tips for the notes app.
For those that have not yet discovered this brilliant tool, Google Keep is a great note-taking app that replaces the sticky notes type of utilities on your computer.
It enables you to jot down things you want to remember like URLs and text copied from web pages, thoughts and ideas, to do lists, shopping lists, reminders and so on.
It is much simpler and more lightweight than Google Keep alternatives OneNote and Evernote. These apps are fine in their own way, but Keep’s strongest features are speed and simplicity.
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Notes entered into Keep are stored online in your Google account.
This means that they are available on any computer and device that runs Keep.
This is pretty much everything and you can use a PC, Mac, iOS and Android phones and tablets.
The end of Chrome apps
Go to the Chrome Web Store and there are three categories of items – Extensions, Themes and Apps. The categories can be selected in the left sidebar.
Search for Keep and then select the Apps category on the left and you will find the Google Keep app and it can be installed into Chrome. Not for long though.
Google is removing support for Chrome apps and sooner or later the Apps category and all the apps in it will disappear. It turns out that Chrome apps was an experiment that didn’t work and Google is abandoning it.
It is still possible to install the Keep app into Chrome and it is possible to add a shortcut to the desktop to run the app in its own window, separate from the Chrome browser. However, it does not seem to work properly.
Either I have a bug or Google has already begun to remove support for the Keep app. All I get are the titles of notes, but no content in them. The notes are empty.
There is a Google Keep extension in the Chrome Web Store, but this is not the app, it is a simple way to grab stuff off web pages and store them in notes. It is different to the app itself.
Use the Google Keep web app
This does not mean that Keep is being abandoned. Chrome apps will disappear, but they can be turned into web apps that run in any browser instead.
For example, instead of running Keep on the desktop as an app, you just go to keep.google.com and it runs in the browser – any browser and not just Chrome. It works the same, but one difference is that there is no offline use. If you are offline you can’t access Keep on the web.
Run Keep on the desktop
The app has been abandoned, or soon will be, and if you have it on the desktop it might continue to work for a while, but eventually it will stop working. I’ve been using accessing it in a browser tab and when I tried to install the app again, it didn’t work.
However, there is a work-around.
Chrome can be made to run in a window without tabs, without the address box, without the menu and without the toolbar with extension icons.
Press Windows+R and in the Run box enter:
Google Keep opens in a neat little window on the desktop exactly the same way it used to as an app.
It is not very convenient typing in that complicated command and you might make a typing slip. Let’s make a shortcut for the desktop or taskbar that will open Keep in this window.
Create a Google Keep desktop shortcut
Right click the desktop and select New, Shortcut.
Click the Browse button and find and select Chrome. It will be in:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe
Add a space and then the –app=https://keep.google.com to the end of the path so it looks like this:
Click Next, set the name to Keep and click Finish.
The icon used for the Keep desktop shortcut is a standard web browser icon instead of the Keep icon, but double clicking the shortcut opens Keep in a neat little window without all the usual browser clutter.
Change the shortcut icon
There are two more things you can do. The first one is to change the icon.
Right click the Keep icon on the desktop that you created and select Properties.
Click the Change Icon button.
There are several alternative icons and one looks a bit like notes in Keep. Select it and close the windows.
Pin Keep to the taskbar
Now right click the icon again and there are two options. One is to pin Keep to the Start menu and the other is to pin Keep to the taskbar. Select them both.
Now you can easily start Keep in its own window on the desktop separate to the Chrome browser.