How long have we been waiting for an Instagram app for Mac? How about Pinterest? Disney+ or Netflix? They’re here, all at the same time? Well, yes, more or less, because it is macOS Sonoma that makes them possible. A feature of the new operating system of our Mac, presented at the last WWDC 2023, allows us to convert any website into a desktop application with very, very attractive results.
A service doesn’t have an app for Mac? Don’t worry, we created it ourselves
The ability to install Progressive Web Apps (PWA), web applications that behave like conventional applications directly from the Internet, is something we have known about the iPhone and iPad for years. Now, with macOS Sonoma and Safari version 17.0, this possibility also comes to the Mac. In a nutshell, this is a new feature that allows us to turn any site into an app by simply tapping Add to Dock in our browser.
It is true that Chrome already offered a similar feature, but the big disadvantage is that we had to use Chrome to run it, with all that represents for the performance and battery consumption of our Mac. That’s not to mention that protections like iCloud Private Relay don’t apply to Chrome. Thus, the twist that Apple has given by allowing us to turn any site into an app is more than interesting.
Not all sites will behave the same, as this depends on their structure and components. At a glance, we can’t tell which website has the PWA option enabled, although the usual suspects (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Disney+, Netflix, etc.), do offer it. If so, we’ll notice that the “apps” added to the Dock can even send us notifications, become part of focus statuses, and more.
To convert a site into an application we must start from the fact that we are running macOS Sonoma on our Mac. From here, we simply open the website we want to share, go to the File menu and tap Add to Dock. Then, we confirm the name we want to give to our new Dock icon and, after tapping OK, it will appear both in our Dock and in the Launchpad. We will even be able to look for it in Spotlight to launch the application, just as we would do with any other app.
Note also that in the name selection dialog box we can tap the icon that appears to choose an image of our Mac. If we do so, the application we are creating will use a custom image, which can be very useful in certain circumstances.
It is true that, for most occasions, a simple bookmark or a favorite will be the most comfortable, but for those times when we want to separate the content from Safari and have an independent service, PWAs are excellent. A new window that we can minimize or close and that, conceptually, is separated from the browser windows.
The separation, in fact, is not only conceptual. Cookies, as well as the effect of the plugins we have installed in Safari, are isolated. Thus, plugins do not apply to PWAs while cookies are independent, so we can empty the Safari history knowing that we will not have to log in again in our new application.
All in all, it is clear that the next update of Safari and macOS Sonoma will give us many and better options when it comes to enjoying our favorite services and websites. The ability to turn them into an app that we can use on our iPhone, iPad or Mac with just a couple of button presses is something to keep in mind. A service doesn’t have an app? Don’t worry, we’ll create it ourselves.
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