Show HN: Nativefier – Wrap any web page natively

Dock Screenshot

You want to make a native wrapper for Google Maps (or any web page).

$ nativefier

You’re done.


I did this because I was tired of having to ⌘-tab or alt-tab to my browser and then search through the numerous open tabs when I was using Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp Web. Nativefier creates a desktop application for any single page web application by wrapping it in an OS executable (.app, .exe, etc.), and they are packaged with Electron by simply running a simple command.


# for use from the command line
$ npm install nativefier -g


Creating an native desktop app for

$ nativefier ""

Nativefier will intelligently attempt to determine the app name, your OS and processor architecture, among other options. If desired, the app name or other options can be overwritten by specifying the --name=Medium as part of the command line options, as such.

$ nativefier --app-name "Some Awesome App" ""

Other command line options are listed below.


$ nativefier [options] <targetUrl> [dest]

Target Url

The url to point the application at. Take note that you have to enter the full url, i.e., and simply entering will not work.


Specifies the destination directory to build the app to, defaults to the current working directory.


-h, --help

Prints the usage information.


-n, --app-name 

The name of the application, which will affect strings in titles and the icon.


-p, --platform 

Automatically determined based on the current OS. Can be overwritten by specifying either linux, win32, or darwin.


-a, --arch 

Processor architecture, automatically determined based on the current OS. Can be overwritten by specifying either ia32 or x64.


-e, --electron-version 

Electron version without the v, see


-o, --overwrite

Specifies if the destination directory should be overwritten.


-c, --conceal

Specifies if the source code within the nativefied app should be packaged into an archive, defaults to false, read more.


-i, --icon 

On OSX, the icon parameter should be a path to an .icns file. iConvertIcons can be used to convert .pngs, though it can be quite cumbersome.

To retrieve the .icns file from the downloaded file, extract it first and press File > Get Info. Then select the icon in the top left corner of the info window and press ⌘-C. Open Preview and press File > New from clipboard and save the .icns file. It took me a while to figure out how to do that and question why a .icns file was not simply provided in the downloaded archive.


-b, --badge

On OSX, it is desired for the App dock icon to show a badge on the receipt of a desktop notification.

There is no known way to intercept and set an event listener for a desktop notification triggered by the , the current workaround is to listen for document.title changes within the . Typical web apps like Facebook Messenger will change the document.title to “John sent a message…” on the receipt of a desktop notification, and this is what we will listen for to trigger the app badge on the dock.

However, this would cause issues when the command line argument target is set to a external page which is not a single page app, because clicking on hyperlinks and switching pages would naturally change the document.title. Hence, --badge is an optional command argument that can be set by the user if the side effect of this workaround is understood.


-w, --width 

Width of the packaged application, defaults to 1280px.


-h, --height 

Height of the packaged application, defaults to 800px.


-u, --user-agent 

Set the user agent to run the created app with.

How It Works

A template app with the appropriate event listeners and callbacks set up is included in the ./app folder. When the nativefier command is executed, this folder is copied to a temporary directory with the appropriate parameters in a configuration file, and is packaged into an app with Electron Packager.


Tested mostly on OSX, but should work for windows and linux.

Back Button

A back button is intentionally not provided because the tool is designed for single page apps. However, if desired, an executable can built for any url, and simply pressing the backspace key will take the user back to the previous page.


  • Better workaround for desktop notifications and OSX dock badges

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