How to Get More Out of Fluid

If you’re someone who dips in and out of several web apps on a daily basis, you may be interested to know that an application for OSX can make your life easier. Fluid allows you to create ‘Site Specific Browsers’ (SSBs) – a separate desktop app for each website you use on a regular basis.

In essence, this allows you to have an standalone dock icon for a variety of websites, opening a specific browser for each website when clicked. I use this functionality for accessing Basecamp on a regular basis – it’s far quicker than navigating to the site through a browser bookmark, and keeps whatever you have going on in Safari completely separate.

Fluid Icons

Fluid Icons

Going Further With Fluid

However, whilst the basic functionality can be a real time saver, Fluid also offers a number of more advanced features:

  1. Comprehensive preferences
    Clicking ‘Edit > Preferences’ opens up a vast array of options. Everything from restricting certain URL access to altering opacity window settings.
  2. “Greasemonkey” scripting
    Add your own CSS styles to each individual browser. You can create your own, or choose from a selection of 25,000 at Userscripts.org.
  3. Support for dock badges
    Be notified of updates from supporting sites through a changing number on the dock icon.
  4. Menu bar display
    Show a miniaturized version of a site through your menu bar rather than the dock. This is great for posting links or updates to social networking sites.
  5. Plugins
    A couple of plugins are available to show Google results in CoverFlow mode, and store images and links in a ‘clipboard’ interface. I’m hopeful for the addition of more in the future.

Once you have a beautiful and functional setup for your favorite web application, there’s only one area left to tackle; you’ll need to find a good looking icon. Fortunately, a Flickr group exists for sharing and downloading high quality icons for many popular web apps. These include Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, WordPress, and some 350 others.

Fluid seems like a basic app when taken at face value, but a vast selection of features are sitting just under the surface. Take the time to dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a range of functionality which turns Fluid into a powerful application-building tool.


  • http://www.danharper.me Dan Harper

    This looks great. Sort of merging the boundaries of web and desktop apps :) Similar/same as what Google Chrome allows with the ‘Application Shortcuts’?

    BTW, AppStorm looks fantastic. Great job Envato! (once again)

    • http://envato.com collis

      Hooray! These threaded comments are pretty cool I must say :-)

  • http://dangayle.com Dan

    I love fluid! I’ve been using it for a while now, and it’s one of the few apps that I have start up when I log in. The key feature is using it in the menu bar. I have my Pandora menu SSB, my Twitter menu SSB, and my Typophile menu SSB.

  • http://www.jashsayani.com Jash Sayani

    Thanks for the great tips!!

  • http://www.firelabstudio.com Aaron Bazinet

    I’ve been meaning to take a deeper look at Fluid, this motivates me to hurry up.

    Congrats on the new site!

  • http://www.rubinered.eu RubineBoy

    :( I downloaded the thing, unzipped it, opened the app and nothing happens …

    • http://patdryburgh.net Pat

      The app is just a window that you input an internet address into to create your SSB. It’s pretty straightforward.

      • http://www.rubinered.eu RubineBoy

        I know but even that window I don’t get …

  • http://patdryburgh.net Pat

    I designed an icon to use for the Grooveshark SSB. If you’re interested, take a look at http://www.patdryburgh.net/blog/grooveshark-fluid-icon/.

    • http://zachlebar.com Zach LeBar

      That’s a sweet icon Pat. Perfect for Grooveshark. It definitely just earned a spot on my dock ;)

  • http://duncanmckean.co.uk dmk

    looks like a good idea. especially for designers. and: nice new site. thanks. (still waiting for vectorbarn or similar…!)

  • http://kiel.tumblr.com Matthew Delprado

    My fav; a Google Reader SSB with the helvitireader style applied (http://www.helvetireader.com/).

    Fluid does a great job with Google Docs too, makes it feel a lot closer to a native app.

  • Marko

    Wau, I didn’t know this app.. Thanks for the tip! :)

  • http://www.blogbydesign.com Corey Freeman

    This looks to be an awesome application. I could see it as sort of a desktop application for editing sites instead of going to the dashboard. Thanks for the resource!

  • tom müller

    Think that fluid is a liitle bit overrated. if you reset your safari you have to login on every fluid app again. that gets really annoying when you configure the preferences just to login and then configure again to use it.

    as long as fluid doesn’t save all data like cookies individual, it makes not much sence. as alternative i use opera and firefox along with safari.

    twitter or evernote are used through desktop apps

    • anon

      OMG! You’re right! I just looked where fluid was saving its cookies, and came across this page in my search… so i searched through my safari cookies… there they are… oh well… major disappointment… I’ve been waiting for some other fixes to fluid as well… maybe they’ll change this in the next release…

      thanks for answering this question for me… very important for privacy/security

  • Pingback: 30 Web Apps You Should Turn into Mac Apps with Fluid

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