Revisiting Fluid


I first used Fluid, the site-specific browser creation tool for Mac OS X, a long time ago. But I didn’t find it compelling enough to integrate it into my daily life, in part because virtually all of my digital life still lived on the desktop. As I personally moved more and more to the cloud, it became key.

I tend to use Fluid apps for things that I want to have open and at the ready all day. These are things I consider to be more like apps than websites, so having a separate window makes sense, if for no other reason than I can easily command-tab among applications by selecting the appropriate high-resolution logo. With Safari, Chrome and Firefox, I’m in and out of a lot of websites throughout the work day, but most are content sites, or web applications that I use once per week or less. Here are a few of the key ways I’m using Fluid today.

Google Calendar

I long ago tired of problems with invitations in iCal. There were just too many frustrating examples of invitations not coming through properly or at all, and I invested the maximum amount of time I was willing to solve it. Last year, I also tired of’s performance when dealing with many accounts and large numbers of messages. I was using Google Apps for several accounts with IMAP enabled, and using as my client. Since they were all Google accounts anyway, I made the decision to switch to Mailplane, which performs flawlessly and had the added benefit of saving a lot of precious space on my MacBook Air’s hard drive.

Then I started noticing how good email invitations looked in the Gmail interface, and how easy it was to add them to the Google Calendar associated with that account. It just worked. But I also have several calendars. So I decided to make one Google Calendar account my main or master account, and shared all my other accounts with it, with full read and write permissions. Then I created a Fluid app for that Google Calendar account. I now have one Fluid app called gCal that holds my various calendars in one view, and I turned on Google Mobile Sync for them all, so I immediately get changes on my iPhone and vice versa.


Pandora has become my music source of choice while working. I’ve got several stations queued up, including Wilco, Spoon, Ben Harper, and Res, among others. I haven’t really tracked it, but I don’t think I come close to Pandora’s maximum of 40 hours of listening per month. If I exceed that, I’ll need to look into a paid Pandora One account, which has its own player download. In the meantime, I’m quite content to load Pandora in a Fluid app, start it up, and hide the window from view until I need to click the button that says I’m still listening. Again, having it in a separate window that I can hide from view while still using Safari is a huge win for me.


There’s not much I need to say about Facebook, which has taken the world by storm. But I am now syncing my contacts with Facebook via their iPhone app, which I love because it’s the easiest and best way to have friend’s pictures show when they call. I once suffered from Facebook Fatigue, but I’ve gotten past that and now use it as an essential communications tool for certain contacts. I’m just starting to use it for some serious social marketing for my projects, and having it open in its own window makes it easier to keep abreast of messages and other updates.


Finally, TheAppleBlog is hosted on WordPress, so I created a Fluid app specifically for creating posts like these. I’m also finding it more and more useful to tap out ideas that pop into my head and create rough outlines while the ideas are fresh, and save them as drafts. Then, when I have dedicated time later in the day or week, I can spend more time working on the posts.

Are you using Fluid in your daily Mac experience? If so, how do you use it? If not, why?


Sean Gates

Fluid is for highly productive people who need to be able to keep we applications open throughout the day, without the hassle of “tabs” in a browser. I use it for my corporate email (Outlook Web Access w/ userscripts), Gmail, Google calendar, Basecamp, JIRA ticket tracking, etc. All of these apps allow me to view the content as an App, and not as a “web page”. The SSBs also allow me to use Growl notifications and dock badges to give me cues as to what is happening in the app.

Basically, if you aren’t a web developer, and/or you don’t use a web-based email app, then you probably haven’t realized the benefit(s) of using Fluid. It’s a huge productivity boost.


I can see the benefit of Growl, but the rest of your argument doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t see how using tabs is a hassle. We each have our own personal systems. Whatever works best for you, might not be the best for me, etc.

Sean Gates

I use tabs quite often, but when you have many multiple tabs open (like 10+) then it does become a hassle. Also, when you’re browser testing and have to clear your cache, or clear your sessions for your browser it clears it for all tabs (except for Chrome, which is an improvement) and I have to log back in. Having it in a SSB allows me to have it open and not subject to anything happening while I develop web applications.

So, tabs are a hassle for me when dealing with Gmail and the other apps mentioned.


Fluid & other single-site apps make no sense to me. I’ve tried them and I can just as easily rotate though tabs as I can apps. I guess it’s a personal preference thing :/


same here, i’m not sure that it makes sense to add more icons to your doc only to have a website launch in a single pane browser.

i never did get this app. what’s wrong with command “t”?


I only use it for lala… but… I don’t use lala that much on my home computer.


Having never used Fluid, I’m curious — is the value of it just that you get a separate icon in the Dock for a web site? Seems like a lot of effort for a very small gain, though clearly from the post and the other comments I may be underestimating the value. Just curious if there are more reasons to use Fluid.


The security concerns me too. I am not sure I want it to have my g-mail password. Is there an explanation why this would not be an issue? Thanks!

Surat Lozowick

I have Google Tasks set up in my menubar with Fluid. I use Tasks frequently to keep track of ideas and things I need to do, so having it one click away at all times is invaluable. It’s also easy to add new information, because I can be looking at other apps or websites while I’m entering a new task. It’s perfect. I recently even added a second, identical Google Tasks Fluid app to my menubar (with a different icon), so I have easy access to two lists at a time (for example, “To do” and “Story ideas”).


Fluid rocks but … It seems ‘dead in the water.’ With Google Chrome expected to add “Create as Application…” & Mozilla working on Prizm (as a standalone app & Firefox Addon); it’s understandable that the last release was just about a year ago. Though it works …as a small 3rd party entrusting it without the security updates seen by ‘big’ browsers is, or should be, a concern.


I tried it for facebook, google calendar, and gmail but didn’t like the interface as well as or ical. However, I created a google reader app with fluid and use it daily. Couldn’t find a reader app that compared/synced well with reader.


Would have been nice if you included a link to, say, fluid…

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