WorkFlowy Window: An Alternative to the Chrome App

Note: This post updated (Nov 2018) for Chrome 70.

WorkFlowy offers an excellent Desktop App, and it’s very popular with WorkFlowy users. There are good reasons for the popularity:

  • Offline support: A requirement if your internet connection is patchy or non-existent.
  • Focus: WorkFlowy is all about focus. The app offers a clean window with no bookmarks bar, no address bar, and no tabs to distract you.
  • Workflow: some users simply prefer a separate window vs keeping a tab open in the browser.

So, What is “WorkFlowy Window”?

Confession: It’s a name I made up… for a feature already baked into Chrome. If you are a Chrome-ninja, you probably already know about it. But I suspect many non-ninjas (and even some ninjas) may not be aware of some compelling advantages WorkFlowy Window offers over the Chrome app.

The Bad:

First, let’s talk about what WorkFlowy Window can’t do, and it’s a biggie: Offline. If your internet connection is reliably patchy or non-existent, you can stop reading. In fact, I still use the Desktop App, but only in offline situations.

The Compelling Advantages Stuff:

If your internet connection is non-patchy and reliably existent, and it’s the focus and workflow you desire, WorkFlowy Window gives you that and much more:

  • Multiple instances: You can put WorkFlowy Windows side by side. While you can’t drag bullets between them, you can use the standard edit operations (including multi-edit) to copy, cut and paste bullets between the two.
  • Custom Shortcuts: Speaking of multiple, you can setup custom shortcuts to launch instances into specific nodes… make one for “Work” and one for “Personal”.
  • Chrome Extensions! That means Stylus, WorkFlowy To Google Calendar, Clip To WorkFlowy, and Tampermonkey to name a few. You can access extensions via keyboard shortcuts or the right click menu. As of Chrome 70, there is now a 3 dot menu icon in the title bar you click for icon access.
  • Copy Bullet URLs via right click on the bullet, or click the 3 dot icon for the zoom parent.
  • Find on Page via Ctrl+F (and Ctrl+G to quickly navigate through them)
  • Search Google by selecting text, and right clicking
  • Cleaner toolbar with no Edit-View-Window menu
  • Spellcheck turn it on or off, just like in Chrome.

Sounds Good, How Do I Do This?

  • Launch WorkFlowy in Chrome. (Zoom on a specific bullet if desired)
  • Click the Chrome’s Customize icon (3 dots) in the upper right.
  • Select More Tools > Create Shortcut
  • Name it as you like, and click Create.
  • Voila! Chrome creates a shortcut to your shiny new WorkFlowy Window.
  • Access the shortcut via your Desktop or chrome://apps .
  • If your shortcut opens in a browser tab: open chrome://apps > Right Click the shortcut > Check “Open as window”

Windows Tip: If you want to pin this to your Windows Taskbar, launch the desktop shortcut, and pin that instance to the taskbar by right clicking on the icon.

Happy Windowing!

26 thoughts on “WorkFlowy Window: An Alternative to the Chrome App

  1. The only drawback of this windowed WorkFlowy – I thought – is that I can’t (easily) access the Stylish button. I have to open another browser session to WorkFlowy to enable the WFy context and toggle the Stylish options there – which (mostly) repaint the spawned window.

    But then I remembered Keyboard Shortcuts. But wait… why in blazes does it pull up the menu in the Main browser and not the spawned? Unlike your tip above, Stylish extension isn’t in the right-click menu.

    You and Frank are car-carrying members of the Clever Club, maybe one – or both – of you can tell me a way ’round? See if I have to go over *there* to change *here* – it kind of defeats the initial intent of ‘focus’ that the minimalist window provides, now don’t it?


    1. I played with WorkFlowy Panel briefly when it was first released… definitely a worthy option to check out. In the end, it wasn’t for me. I use WorkFlowy 90% of the time as a standard Chrome tab. I ‘window’ in two situations: 1) when I want to tile multiple windows side by side, and 2) for pure focus… reduce the number of shiny browser temptations.

      I hadn’t considered the Stylish issue, probably because my CSS stuff is fixed… I never toggle. The only exception to that is FlatFlowy… in fact toggling CSS is the reason for it’s creation. (Which, btw, is another downside of ‘window’.. no bookmarklets.)

      I’m curious though, what’s your driver for toggling Stylish themes? The FlatFlowy bookmarklet is designed to be customized. It’s not terribly difficult to adapt it to any custom CSS.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hrm… first I heard of FlatFlowy (and I though I found *all* your stuff!) I’ll have to load it up and test drive it and let you know if/how it works for me.

        To answer your “driver” question, it’s much like Frank’s “modal” switch when he goes from just brainstorming/tinkering and over to writing/producing, albeit I’m a developer, not a writer.

        So I use WorkFlowy in 3 major contexts.
        (A) Systems Analysis (breakdown)
        (B) Project Management
        (C) Personal/Family Life mapping

        And aside from the couple Workflowy Clipper variations and the “WorkFlowy code formatter” java extension (simplistic, but wonderful for coders). I use at least 4 Stylish themes:

        1) WorkFlowy Better Starred Page Viewer
        2) WorkFlowy Custom Tag Colors
        3) WorkFlowy Hi-Liter
        4) – clean and bright

        1 & 4 are on all the time and (4) is majorly modified for my own aestheics.

        For context (A) I use (3) for trees/branches highlighting classes, methods, programs, subroutines, functions, etc. ; tags are monochromatic and used for multipurposes. They could be to-dos, reference back to requirements, bug-flags, etc.

        For context (B) I turn off highlighting (3) and keep it as underline, but turn on (2) for kanban-ish status labels and team member tags.

        For context (C), I often use (2) to map a different set of tag colors to correspond with color-mapping on a mind map (MindMup) that serves as a bird’s-eye view I need as the groundskeeper of the landscape of my family’s “areas” (Financial, Medical, Educational, Social, Hobbies, etc.). Many of those nodes are actually links back to their respective WorkFlowy branch for details (Medical: Doctors, Medicines, Therapies, Records/History, etc) Some go to Evernote for graphic/scans or GDrive docs/sheets. The tags also often indicate the SaaS used.

        So you can see how I juggle themes and try to get “Way, way more more in Workflowy” (thanks Frank! Do Way, Way More in WorkFlowy (PDF) — Productivity Mashup )

        Liked by 1 person

        1. And I thought Frank was nuts 😉

          Your set of requirements is probably too complex for the bookmarklet approach.

          If I were you, I’d set up unique Chrome users for each of your contexts. Then you can open a unique browser window for each context, each customized how you like: stylish themes, bookmarks, home pages, email logins etc, and all can log into the same WorkFlowy account. I do something similar with a couple accounts I use for testing. Access is as simple as right clicking on the user tab in the upper right of Chrome and selecting the user.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. You think *that’s* nuts… you should see my Rube Goldberg workflow set up my Todoist feeding itself my pomodoro tracking via IFTTT like some sort of API Oroboros. I’m planning a blog post or contribution somewhere detailing the use of labels-as-levers in this beautiful monstrosity. But it helps me keep moving. I call it my “Tomato Catch Up” system.


  3. This is great, thanks for the tutorial. I had to disable the bookmark thing to get the link from settings menu, like you said.


  4. Workflowy have just changed their web app which breaks some of the styles in Stylish. There doesn’t seem a way to get a full screen any more. It’s a shame that they are not working with those who are seeking to enhance its function.


    1. Hey Kevin, I left the below comment at

      Just contacted Jesse and he says there was some change to WorkFlowy’s underlying HTML recently… which will probably account for the wide page margins not working. He says, “… we should probably figure out what the core issue is and let people know how to update their styles.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Kevin, don’t know what specific style you’re referring to, but that actually makes sense. I played with a view things in Stylebot, and was able to create full page views a couple different ways.

        @Writch, I’m having difficulty with the first time.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The “Add to desktop” feature your describe is really nice, i can put the link i made into the dock, thanks for the tip, but… It open a new tab in chrome each time you clic on that icon in the dock! So i end up with more and more tabs in chrome! this kind of make that feature useless. We would need a way to go back to the workflowy tab in chrome which already opened, from that link in the dock… but unfortunately that possibility does seem to exist in Chrome… am i correct?


  6. I just started and using Workflow last Thursday. Having come from using MyLifeOrgainized for 5 years (which largely uses outlining), I immediately saw the advantages of using Workflowy. It didn’t take me long to get up to speed.

    I have a question relating to Workflowy Window. Yesterday, I followed the instructions and found myself looking at a Window that had a draggable green bar at the time with NO MENU AND NO CHROME EXTENSIONS AT THE TOP. It was precisely the minimalist framework that I was looking for. And no, it was not what you typically get via the F11 key.

    I thought that that was pretty much what Workflowy Window was supposed to be.

    However, at some later time in the day, I deleted it for fun and found that I could not replicate what I had seen. I was only able to get a browser in which I had 2 choices: 1) The distracting menu bar and Chrome Extension row or 2) Chrome full screen with no draggability and no access to the taskbar at the bottom of my screen.

    So, tell me is there a way to consistently get the version of Workflowy Window that I described at the outset, or was that some kind of hallucination on my part?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm… If I understand you correctly, I think the green in “draggable green bar” is probably dictated by your OS, and not Chrome. For example, Windows has settings to customize the title bar colors.

      If you want a permanent shortcut, you should be able to create a new one:

      Menu > More Tools > Add to Desktop
      Make sure “Open as window” is checked.

      This will create a shortcut on your desktop that creates a Chrome “popup” window… browser functionality, without the tab bar, address bar, and bookmarks bar.

      I stopped using these permanent shortcuts. I use WorkFlowy mostly in a browser tab, and then use my extension, to convert tabs (or right click WorkFlowy bullets) into popup windows on-demand:

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That worked. But what’s funny is that I had been doing exactly the same thing dozens of times this morning. So when you laid out the same steps I had been following, I figured…hmm…maybe if I reboot. And that fixed the problem.

        I just installed your pop-up maker. Wow — it just doesn’t get better than that (for now!)

        Liked by 3 people

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