Most of us seldom use App Launcher, the 3×3 grid present at top right for most of the Google products. Though you can customize the app launcher and use it to quickly switch between apps, it’s functionality is limited within the site. Black Menu (Chrome extension) is a better alternative that lets you access and preview any Google product from the comfort of Chrome toolbar.
Best App Launcher for All Google Products
To get started with Black Menu, download the extension from Chrome’s web store. Once installed, you will see colorful Black Menu button which lets you instantly use most popular Google products in interactive material themed interface.
While you can use some of the products directly as it asks you permission during installation, you will have to separately grant permissions for few apps from the extension.
You can then hover to switch between multiple applications which makes things more convenient. A click, however, redirects you to the actual product website. One of the most baffling things about Black menu is that it provides you a search bar for individual platforms that works flawlessly.
Black Menu App Launcher Tips and Tricks
#. If the default arrangement doesn’t suit your needs, the extension allows you to reorder items through drag and drop functionality.
#. Black menu isn’t limited just to the corner, you can pull out a particular service in a separate panel by tapping the little arrow icon right to the search box.
#. To switch Google accounts, click on your name and it will reveal all the available profiles.
#. At the end of the list, you’ll find the “more” option which will reveal all the Google products. Although, you cannot preview the content like for others, clicking them will take you to their websites.
#. You can open the Black Menu directly by pressing Ctrl+B (works only in latest Chrome builds).
Diving Deep in Settings
You can add and remove items for the panel through the extension settings. I personally adore the Hangouts add-on, it’s a great way to use the messaging platform without actually leaving what I’m working on. On the right-hand side, you’ll find “General Settings” category that holds a couple of useful toggles including a white theme option. You can also choose click instead of hover to open an app window if you don’t like the default functionality.
You can even get “Unread counts” on app icons of Google+ and Gmail through the settings option.
If you don’t prefer the extension being limited to a corner in Chrome’s toolbar, you can choose to open it in a panel and use it as a standalone application.
Black Menu’s Simpler Alternative
If you’re not looking for something this comprehensive, Carlos Jeurissen, the developer behind Black menu offers another extension called “Shortcuts for Google”. Unlike the one we saw earlier, this extension only holds shortcuts of Google services. It works in the same way, except you don’t have interactive panels here. You can remove/add Google products and it even lets you customize the icons.
I really liked the Black Menu, something Google themselves should have build. It is definitely better than the default app launcher. Give it a try and if you still have any doubts, let me know in the comments section down below.