Automatically install web apps

Applies to managed Chrome Browsers and Chrome devices.

As an administrator, you can automatically install Chrome Browser web apps for users in your organization. Users can then quickly get to the apps from the launcher on Chrome devices or in Chrome Browser on other devices.

Step 1: Review policies

Policy Description and settings

WebAppInstallForceList

Automatically install specific web apps without user interaction. Users cannot disable or remove them.

Unset: No web apps are automatically installed.

Step 2: Set the policies

Click below for the steps, based on how you want to manage these policies.

Windows
Applies to Windows users who sign in to a managed account on Chrome Browser.

Using Group Policy

In the Group Policy Management Editor (Computer or User Configuration folder):

  1. Go to Policies and then Administrative Templates and then Google and then Google Chrome.
  2. Open Configure list of force-installed web apps.
    Tip: If you don’t see the policy, download the latest policy template.
  3. Enable the policy and enter its compact JavaScript® Object Notation (JSON) data in the text box.
    Note: Enter JSON data as a single line with no line breaks. You can use a third-party JSON compression tool to validate policies and compact them into a single line.
  4. Set your desired web app policies:
    • Add the final URLs of the web apps that you want to automatically install on users’ computers. For example, for Google Maps, use https://google.com/maps, not https://maps.google.com.
    • (Optional) To open URLs in a new tab or window, set default_launch_container to tab or window. By default, web apps open in a new tab.
    • (Optional) To create a desktop shortcut, set create_desktop_shortcut to true.
  5. Deploy the update to your users

The example shows how to:

  • Automatically install Google Maps and Google Docs.
  • Add a desktop shortcut for Google Maps.
  • Open Google Maps in a new window.
  • Open Docs in a new tab.

Example JSON data

[
{
    "create_desktop_shortcut": true, 
    "default_launch_container": "window", 
    "url": "https://www.google.com/maps"
  }, 
  {
    "default_launch_container": "tab", 
    "url": "https://docs.google.com"
  }
]

Compact JSON data

[{"create_desktop_shortcut":true,"default_launch_container":"window","url":"https://www.google.com/maps"},{"default_launch_container":"tab","url":"https://docs.google.com"}]

Mac
Applies to Mac users who sign in to a managed account on Chrome Browser.
In your Chrome policy configuration profile (.plist file):
  1. Add or update the following keys in the <WebAppInstallForceList> key: 
    1. Add the final URLs of the web apps that you want to automatically install. For example, for Google Maps, use https://google.com/maps, not https://maps.google.com.
    2. (Optional) To open URLs in a new tab or window, set the <default_launch_container> key to <string>value</string>, where value is tab or window.  By default, web apps open in a new tab, and the <create_desktop_shortcut> key has no effect on users’ Mac machines.
  2. Deploy the change to your users.

The example shows how to:

  • Automatically install Google Maps and Google Docs.
  • Open Google Maps in a new window.
  • Open Docs in a new tab.

<key>WebAppInstallForceList</key>
<array>
  <dict>
    <key>default_launch_container</key>
    <string>window</string>
    <key>url</key>
    <string>https://www.google.com/maps</string>
  </dict>
  <dict>
    <key>default_launch_container</key>
    <string>tab</string>
    <key>url</key>
    <string>https://docs.google.com</string>
  </dict>
</array>

Linux

Using your preferred JSON file editor:

  1. Go to your /etc/opt/chrome/policies/managed folder.
  2. Create or update a JSON file.
  3. For WebAppInstallForceList:
    1. In url, add the final URLs of the web apps that you want to automatically install. For example, for Google Maps, use https://google.com/maps, not https://maps.google.com.
    2. (Optional) To open URLs in a new tab or window, set default_launch_container to tab or window. By default, web apps open in a new tab.
    3. (Optional) To create a desktop shortcut, set create_desktop_shortcut to true.
  4. Deploy the update to your users. 

The example shows how to:

  • Automatically install Google Maps and Google Docs.
  • Add a desktop shortcut for Google Maps.
  • Open Google Maps in a new window.
  • Open Docs in a new tab.

WebAppInstallForceList: [
  {
    "create_desktop_shortcut": true, 
    "default_launch_container": "window", 
    "url": "https://www.google.com/maps"
  }, 
  {
    "default_launch_container": "tab", 
    "url": "https://docs.google.com"
  }
]

Step 3: Verify policies on user devices

After you apply any Chrome policies, users need to restart Chrome Browser for the settings to take effect. Then, check users’ devices to make sure the policy is correct.

  1. On a managed device, go to chrome://policy.
  2. Click Reload policies.
  3. Check the Show policies with no value set box.
  4. For WebAppInstallForceList, make sure Status is set to OK and that the policy values match what you set in the policy. 

Troubleshoot

If a specified URL redirects or fails when it’s added, users see a placeholder app instead of the actual app and app logo. Fixing the issue depends on what’s causing the placeholder app to appear. If the:

  • URL redirects to a sign-in page—Users need to open the app, sign in from the redirected page, and close the app again.
  • URL can only be accessed on your organization’s network—Users need to connect to the network and then open and close the app or restart Chrome Browser or a device running Chrome OS.
  • URL is temporarily unavailable due to updates or maintenance—Have your users try restarting Chrome Browser or a device running Chrome OS. If that doesn’t work, when the URL is available again, have them open and close the app again. 

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