How to handle Google’s disabling of inline installations of Chrome extensions

On June 12, 2018, Google disabled inline installation of Chrome extensions. This means that now you can’t directly install an extension from a company’s website–you can only do it directly from the Chrome Web Store.

In response, companies are creating workarounds to allow for a seamless user experience, and in this post, I will showcase examples from different companies.

In all cases, the company’s web page needs to send the user to the Chrome Web Store for the install, but there are different ways to do that. Below are examples from well-known Gmail extensions.

Note that if a developer does nothing, and leaves the inline install code in place, then the default behavior is to already send the user to that extension’s Chrome Web Store listing. As you’ll see in Method 1 though, some companies are launching it in a popup instead.

Method 1: Launch the Chrome Store in a smaller popup window:

  • Streak CRM for Gmail. When you click either the “GET STREAK” button in the upper right or the “Add to Gmail” button, it launches the Chrome Web Store install page for Streak, but in a small popup window, so that the focus is on the blue “Add to Chrome” button found there.
    Streak pops up a window zoomed to show the "Add to Chrome" button.
    Streak pops up a window zoomed to show the “Add to Chrome” button.

    Interestingly, if you then close that popup and return to the Streak webpage, there is now another popup window with a button that says “Available in the Chrome Web Store”. There is also a sentence that reads, “Install by clicking the blue [Add to Chrome] button in the Chrome Web Store”, with the final words linked to their listing.

    Streak's webpage creates a 2nd popup to remind you to install via the Chrome Web Store.
    Streak’s webpage creates a 2nd popup to remind you to install via the Chrome Web Store.

    Clicking either the button or the link then opens a new tab pointing to the Streak page in the Chrome Web Store (see Method 2).

  • Grammarly: When you click their button, they also launch the Chrome Web Store install page in a popup.
    Grammarly's install popup.
    Grammarly’s install popup.

    But they also change their website’s page to one with a button with a message that says “Restart installation” and an arrow that says “Click to get started”:

    Grammarly page changed to direct user back to Chrome Store to install.
    Grammarly page changed to direct user back to the Chrome Web Store to install.

    Clicking that button raises the Chrome Web Store popup back into view. This reinforces to the user that the extension must be installed from the Chrome Web Store. If the user clicks “Not now” in the page shown above, the page will change to a sign-up form for the Grammarly service.

Method 2: Launch a browser tab with the Chrome Web Store install page for that extension.

  • Sortd: Clicking on the red “Try it for FREE” button in the upper right (which only appears after you scroll down the page a bit), shown here:
    The Sortd "Try it for FREE" button.
    The Sortd “Try it for FREE” button.

    …opens a new tab in your browser with the Chrome Web Store. Like Method 1 of using a popup, this is a good solution, because it keeps the Sortd web page open in the other tab. Users can still easily refer back to it.

    Sortd opens a 2nd tab for the Chrome Web Store.
    Sortd opens a 2nd tab for the Chrome Web Store.
  • Gmelius: When you click either “GET GMELIUS” in the upper right hand corner, or “INSTALL GMELIUS FOR FREE”, the same thing occurs: They launch the Chrome Store in a new browser tab.
    Gmelius also opens a browser tab.
    Gmelius also opens a browser tab.

    However, the page behind now instructs the user to click “Add extension”, which doesn’t make sense because there is no button with that label.

    Gmelius website now has an instruction to click "Add extension"--but there is no such button.
    Gmelius website now has an instruction to click “Add extension”–but there is no such button.
  • ActiveInbox: They achieve what I think Gmelius is trying to do, which is prevent potential users from missing the fact that they need to install the extension from the Chrome Web Store. Take a look:
    The ActiveInbox page changes to ask why the user hasn't installed via the Chrome Web Store.
    The ActiveInbox page changes to ask why the user hasn’t installed via the Chrome Web Store.

    As you can see, they do this by changing their website in response to users clicking back from the Chrome Web Store tab. It has a message area that says, “We see you had a hiccup with the Install Popup…” then asks, “Is there a reason you didn’t install ActiveInbox via the popup?” and provides fields for the potential user to provide this feedback. Kudos to them for going the extra mile in helping to comfortably funnel new customers to getting underway with their service.

  • Ginger Page for Chrome: They have an interesting phrasing on their page. They instruct the user to “Download” the Chrome extension, and, in smaller text below that button, instructions for adding the extension from within the Chrome Web Store.
    Ginger Page for Chrome asking user to "Download" the extension.
    Ginger Page for Chrome asking user to “Download” the extension.

    “Download” is a term we typically don’t associate with Chrome extensions nowadays, though technically the code has to be downloaded before it is integrated into Chrome. But these instructions are also inaccurate in that clicking that “Download” button simply launches a new tab to the Chrome Web Store–it doesn’t actually download anything.

  • Todoist for Gmail: Like Ginger Page for Chrome, they also have a “Download” button–but it just launches a tab to the Chrome Web Store where you have to Add the extension. Unlike Ginger Page, though, they don’t mention that you have to click the “Add” button once there.
  • BitBounce: This site uses a somewhat less clear button to direct you to the Chrome Web Store, one that is labeled, “Gmail for Chrome”.

    The somewhat unclear label of Bitbounce integrated with Gmail using Chrome.
    The somewhat unclear label of Bitbounce integrated with Gmail using Chrome.

Method 3: Switch the current web page to the Chrome Store install page

  • Boomerang. When you click on the big red “Add this to your Gmail!” button, the web page is redirected to the Chrome Web Store. This has the disadvantage that you are now no longer on the Boomerang page, where you could have learned more about the product. You can always hit the back button to return there, but it tends to break the flow of the installation and product exploration process. The two pages are shown below.
    Before pressing the button:

    Boomerang web page before clicking the button.
    Boomerang web page before clicking the button.

    After:

    Boomerang page now changed to the Chrome Web Store.
    Boomerang page now changed to the Chrome Web Store.

Hybrid of Methods 2 and 3

  • Clearbit Connect: Apparently they really doesn’t want you to miss the point that you should install their extension through the Chrome Web Store. They actually open a new tab to the Chrome Web Store and change the original tab with their webpage also to the Chrome Web Store. The disadvantage here is that this can be confusing to users, who may wonder what happened to the webpage they were viewing and why there are now two of the same tab.

One Reply to “How to handle Google’s disabling of inline installations of Chrome extensions”

  1. André Pedralho

    I guess this is not possible anymore (same for you?):

    “Note that if a developer does nothing, and leaves the inline install code in place, then the default behavior is to already send the user to that extension’s Chrome Web Store listing.”

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