Make your computer faster by using Web Apps instead of Desktop Apps

Alessandro Cauduro
3 min readApr 10, 2021

Did you know that many popular apps for the desktop such as WhatsApp, Evernote, Spotify , Slack, MS Teams and Rocket.Chat are just Web Applications running inside their own dedicated browser and packaged up as an App?

This is because they use Electron, a system which allows web apps to be used as desktop applications without needing for them to write and maintain platform specific solutions.

It is much better to run productivity apps as a dedicated application, but it is also a major memory hog compared to just running directly the web app from the browser, as each app now has a dedicated browser running instead of just one for all of them.

Take a look at WhatsApp for example and compare the desktop and web versions memory usage:

The WebApp version of WhatsApp uses only 1/3 of the RAM of the installed application!

If you have a brand new Apple M1 computer then beware that most Electron apps are still running under Intel emulation. This requires Rosetta 2 interpretation and makes it slower and use more memory. By installing the Web App as described above together with the ARM version of your favourite browser will make it run at native speeds and use much less memory! On my computer Evernote is much snappier now!

Let's see how we can get the same benefit of a dedicated App without the memory/CPU overhead.

How to install a WebApp/PWA on your Mac/Windows/Linux

You can directly install a web app to your computer, similar to what you can do on your phone by adding it to the home screen. With Chrome it is very simple. Just navigate to the web app page (see below) and create a shortcut or directly install it from the menu.

UPDATE 5/2024: Google has moved the option to create a shortcut from the menu More Tools to Save and Share!

Adding Spotify WebApp to my computer

If you choose to "Open as window", it will feel as if you just installed a native app on your computer and will even have an associated icon on your desktop that you can also add to your dock for quick access.

WebApps on my Mac dock

Alt-tabbing will also show the Web Apps running as separate applications without the added overhead of a browser per app!

The only downside that I found so far is that you are more easily logged out of the account and may need to login more frequently.

Where can I find the webapps to install?

Normally they are to be found after login in to your account. Examples:

Remember any other relevant app not listed? Send me the link via the comments!