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Can I make a Windows desktop shortcut or pinned taskbar item to my chat box?

303 views   |   Last updated on Aug 17, 2020   

 

Yes! There are two overall approaches that we'll outline here.  Both of these use Chrome.  A few notes:

  • Either approach uses shortcuts to your chat box using simple URLs with or without an offline contact overlay.
  • When placing your shortcut on the desktop, try to place it in a location that is more likely to be visible when applications are open.
  • You can call attention to the shortcut using desktop wallpaper, signs, etc...

These two approaches are similar.  They differ in how the chat window opens if Chrome is already running.  Using the "Chrome Web App" approach keeps the chat window separate from the main Chrome instance.

Approach 1: Chrome Web App

  1. Open up your chat box URL in Chrome.
  2. Go to Chrome's "three vertical dots" menu near the top right.
  3. Select "More tools" > "Create Shortcut"
  4. A "Create shortcut?" dialog will open up with your chat box URL.
  5. Check the "Open as a window" box.

This will place a chat box shortcut in the taskbar, but if you close the chat box the shortcut will vanish and you'd have to re-open it from Chrome's internal menus, which your patrons will have a hard time locating.  Next, you need to "pin" it by right-clicking it in the taskbar while it's running.  That creates a persistent taskbar item to your chat box as an app.

  • To make that pinned item into a desktop shortcut, you can right-click the desktop and pick "New > Shortcut."  Browse for the item.  The path will be similar to this
    • C:\Users\MYUSERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Chrome Apps
  • Once you find it, click OK.  The item location will look something like this:
    • "C:\Users\MYUSERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Chrome Apps\Library Chat.lnk"
  • Click "Next"
  • Provide a name for the shortcut ("Chat with us!" for example).
  • The target properties on this shortcut will look something like the following, where the app-id will be randomly-generated and won't match our example:​
    • "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome_proxy.exe"  --profile-directory=Default --app-id=diaffdfmgebifmacphbbaaiibiomiinf

 

We haven't found a way to open the Web App at specific dimensions.  Instead, it seems to open at the dimensions used the last time it ran.  "Clean-slating" the computers between public user sessions would probably help since it should mean you could set the width/height that the chat window opens to.

 

Approach 2: Simple desktop shortcut

This approach lets you provide a few parameters to chrome.exe that let you open your chat URL at specific width/height dimensions and a specific location on the screen.  The catch is that the position and size parameters will only work if Chrome is not already running.  If Chrome is already running, the URL will open as a tab in the existing Chrome workspace. This is the main reason to go with the Web App approach instead.

To make the simple desktop shortcut, it is probably easiest to copy an existing Chrome desktop shortcut and then modify the Target (right-click and select Properties on the copied shortcut).  Then you can add the parameters for the chat URL, position, and dimensions.

 

 

For example:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" "https://libraryh3lp.com/html/chat-box.html?queue=libraryh3lp-support&skin=29566&email=support@libraryh3lp.com" --window-position=0,0 --window-size=400,800


To pick that shortcut apart a little bit:

 

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"

This is the regular target for the chrome.exe executable file.  The path may be different on your computers.

 

"https://libraryh3lp.com/html/chat-box.html?queue=libraryh3lp-support&skin=29566&email=support@libraryh3lp.com"

This is the chat box URL that includes the offline contact overlay. It is pointing to the libraryh3lp-support chat queue using chat skin #29566 and provides our email address if chat is offline.

You will need to update this URL for your own queue, chat skin, and email address.

 

--window-position=0,0

This is the top left corner of the screen

 

--window-size=400,800

This opens the chat box at 400px wide by 800px tall.

You can optionally add the " -incognito " parameter (note: only one dash) to the shortcut in order to have the chat box open in a separate window from a running main Chrome window, but the incognito window for the chat box will take on the size of the main window.

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