How To: Launch Chrome as a Metro App in Windows 8.x

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Chrome 32 recently received an update that lets you open it as a Metro app in Windows 8 and 8.1. This option is not enabled by default, and you need to change some settings to use it.

By default, Chrome 32 opens as a desktop app and you can’t run it in Metro mode unless it’s set as the default browser. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Launch Google Chrome. Open the Chrome Menu and click on Settings to open its menu.

2. In the Default Browser section, click on the Make Google Chrome my default browser button. Close the Settings menu.

Google Chrome - Settings
Google Chrome – Settings – Default browser

3. Open the Chrome Menu again and click on “Relaunch Chrome in Windows 8 mode”. Crome will be relaunched as a Windows 8 app right away.

Google Chrome 32 Menu
Google Chrome 32 Menu

In Windows 8 mode, Chrome has its own interface, replacing the Windows desktop. The new interface has a taskbar called the shelf, with shortcuts such as Gmail, Youtube and Google Docs, but also an Apps button which looks very similar to the Windows Start Button.

Google Chrome in Metro Mode
Google Chrome in Metro Mode

From there you can access all your Chrome apps and extensions. If you click on an app you will see its context menu from where you can pin/unpin it from the shelf as well as choose how to open it.

Google Chrome in Metro Mode - Chrome app context  menu
Google Chrome in Metro Mode – Chrome app context menu

Chrome remembers how you opened it last time so if you used it in Windows 8 mode, the next time it will also open as a Metro app.

To revert back to using Chrome as a Desktop app, go to the Chrome Menu and select “Relaunch Chrome on the Desktop”.

Fix: Windows 8 mode option not available in Chrome Menu

If you don’t see that option in the menu here is what you can do:

1. Check to see if Chrome is up to date (it should be, since it updates automatically). You can see that by opening the About Google Chrome section from the Chrome Menu.

2. The Chrome Metro Mode relies on GPU hardware acceleration. Your system may not support this, but it could also be disabled. Open up the Chrome Menu and select Settings. In the Settings Menu click on “Show advanced settings…” and scroll down to the System section. If the option “Use hardware acceleration when available” was not checked you may be in luck. Check it and exit the Settings.

Chrome Settings - System - Enable hardware acceleration
Chrome Settings – System – Enable hardware acceleration

Restart Chrome and look again for the “Relaunch Chrome in Windows 8 Mode” in the Chrome Menu. If the option is still not there, it means your system lacks support for hardware acceleration.

3. There’s another reason that may prevent you from using Chrome as a Windows 8 app: if you have a laptop or computer with high resolution display. There are plans to add support for HiDPI, however it is currently unavailable. If this is your case but you still want to try the new Metro Chrome, right click on your Chrome launcher and select Properties. In the Compatibility tab check the option “Disable display scaling on high DPI settings” and hit OK. You will be able to use Chrome in Metro mode, but it will be displayed at a lower quality.

Google Chrome - Properties - Compatibility
Google Chrome – Properties – Compatibility