Here’s how web apps work in macOS Sonoma

In macOS Sonoma, currently in beta, you can create individual web apps for any website you visit in Safari and place them alongside other apps in your Dock. Let’s take a closer look at how it all works by turning MacRumors.com into a virtual Mac application as an example.

In macOS Sonoma, any website displayed in Safari can be turned into a web application, thanks to a new “Add to Dock” option in the File menu. In other words, no work is required on the part of web developers to make a site web application compatible, although there are some elements of web applications that developers can have control over (see below ).

How to turn MacRumors into a web app

  1. In the macOS Sonoma developer beta, go to MacRumors.com in Safari.
  2. Choose File -> Add to Dock in the menu bar.
  3. If you want, you can change the MacRumors icon by clicking on it in the Add to Dock window. You can also change the name of the web app using the title field – “MacRumors” is more succinct, for example.
  4. Click on the blue Add button.

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You will now see the MacRumors web application installed in your Dock, ready to use independently of Safari. The web app works with Mission Control and Stage Manager like any other app, and can also be opened via Launchpad or Spotlight Search.

Upon opening the web application, you will notice that its window includes a simplified toolbar with navigation buttons (note: website developers can control whether these are displayed). As you can see in the image, the site’s MacRumors theme color blends into the toolbar for a more seamless look.

MacRumors macOS web app
In terms of navigation, the scope of the web application is dictated by the host of the webpage – in this case www.macrumors.com – so you can browse anywhere on the MacRumors website, but if you click on a link outside of the host page, such as MacRumors Forums, which is hosted separately at forums.macrumors.com, this will open the linked webpage in Safari. Therefore, if you are familiar with the MacRumors website and the MacRumors forums, you should create separate web applications for each.

Web developers have the ability to narrow the scope of a web application to a specific path on their site if they wish. For example, MacRumors could theoretically provide functionality to build web apps dedicated to browsing only articles or how-to guides. This is something MacRumors may implement in the future.

Website connections and notifications

By default, Safari copies cookies from a website to its web application. So, if you create a MacRumors Forums web app and you were logged into your account at the time, you will remain logged in inside the web app. Even if you weren’t signed in, you can do it in the web app with minimal effort because Apple has built in support for Password and Passkey AutoFill.

If a website already supports web push notifications – as MacRumors does – and you’ve signed up for it, you’ll receive web app push notifications that display the corresponding MacRumors icon, giving you more context than a standard Safari notification and icon.

The web app icon in the Dock will also display a badge when a notification is received. Web app notifications are silent by default, although developers can modify them to play a sound. However, the final decision regarding sound and iconic badges is left to the user in System Settings -> Notifications.

web app notifications sir
Web apps also respect Focus modes, so you can include or exclude them from allowed notifications depending on what you’re doing. Finally, with privacy in mind, Apple has added options to control web apps’ access to the camera, microphone, and location in System Settings -> Privacy and Securityas for native applications.

For those looking to dig deeper into macOS Sonoma, it’s currently available for download as a developer beta, though caution is advised as betas can be unstable and buggy. For those willing to wait, the official public release should land in the fall.

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