I tend to work with lots of browser windows open, particularly when I am researching something. I don’t see that as a problem in itself. What it a problem, however, is not being able to find a particular window that I know is open amid the noise of all the other browser windows.

For some time I’ve been looking for a simple solution to this, and now I’ve found it! What I wanted was a Firefox plug-in that would change the application icon shown in the task bar to match the favicon of the site in the active tab of the browser; in other words, in a list of open windows in the task bar at the bottom of the screen or when Alt-Tabbing between them, rather than all of them having the same generic Firefox icon, each would have an icon representing the open site. Instead of having to scan through the text for each window, I would be able to spot it straight away.

I couldn’t find a Firefox app for this, but there is a solution. Google Chrome enables you to create applications from a website, generating shortcuts in your choice of the Start menu, Quick Launch area or on the Desktop. When you follow one of these links, Chrome opens in a special mode (in particular, without the Address bar at the top). In this mode, Chrome shows the favicon of the site as the application icon. To create an application from a site, browse to it in Chrome, click the button to the right of the address bar and select Create application shortcuts.

So far this is working really well for me. I’ve set up these application links for the sites I always have open – such as GMail and HiveMinder – and I can easily pick these out however many other browser sessions are running.

If, like me, you sometimes need lots of open browser windows, try creating Chrome apps for the websites you know you’ll want to pick out from the crowd. You’ll be surprised how much time and frustration it can save.

Martin K also suggested FluidApp, which does much the same thing on a Mac.

There’s a good tip on Chromespot’s Google Chrome Forum for getting Chrome icons for applications pinned to the taskbar in Windows 7.

Basically, create an application icon on the Desktop, open it, pin it and then change the name, shortcut target and icon of the new pinned shortcut to match that of the desktop version. If you just pin the Desktop icon to the taskbar then you end up with two copies of the icon when the app is running.