Use Chrome for VMware-related taskbar shortcuts, unclutter your browser-based UIs so they look like native apps!

Posted by Paul Braren on Apr 2 2016 (updated on Nov 27 2016) in
  • Virtualization
  • ESXi
  • Windows
  • Productivity
  • HomeLab
  • HomeServer
  • HowTo
  • Table of Contents - add vSphere admin shortcuts to your taskbar

    Use these links to jump to each section's step-by-step instructions for:

    1. vSphere Client - legacy Win32 C# client, likely to be deprecated soon
    2. ESXi Embedded Host Client - HTML5/JavaScript UI for ESXi
    3. vSphere HTML5 Web Client - HTML5/JavaScript UI for vCenter, released just 5 days ago!
    4. vSphere Web Client - comprehensive (and sluggish Adobe Flash) vCenter admin browser UI
    5. VAMI - occasional-use browser UI for back-end VCSA sysadmin
    6. Video showing how to create all 5 shortcuts - Step-by-step thorough YouTube video

    VMware is moving away from the Windows/C#-based vSphere Client and the Adobe Flash-based vSphere Web Client over to an HTML5/JavaScript combo that is far faster, and much more universal. These (beta-ish) web UIs arrived in the form of the ESXi Embedded Host Client that's baked right in to ESXi 6.0U2, and the very new vSphere HTML5 Web Client. It's about time!

    TinkerTry-exclusive-all-vSphere-taskbar-shortcuts-APR-3-2016-with-customized-icons
    Click twice for a nice close look. Note, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th VMware-related icons were changed from their defaults, to help distinguish them from one another.

    But there's a big issue with using a browser for all VMware vSphere admin. Let me illustrate with an animation that demonstrates the benefits of reduced clutter, and what up to 73 extra pixels vertically really means.

    Benefits

    The benefits of having such launch icons handy are many, especially for home lab enthusiasts with one server, looking for a way to tidy up and get organized:

    • single click access, anytime, rapidly locating the UI you want, without having to hunt through tabs
    • avoid accidentally opening multiple browser tabs to the same UI, avoiding a waste of system resources
    • hover-help helps you distinguish your various shortcuts
    • better use of visual real estate, with:
      • no bookmarks bar
      • no Chrome tab taking up more precious vertical real estate
      • no URL bar (those URLs are rather uninformative and long in vSphere admin UIs anyway)
      • no distracting extension icons
      • no little shortcut arrow thingies on the taskbar icons, they look like installed Windows applications

    Backstory

    Chrome's been doing some spring cleaning lately:

    Are they really gone?

    Turns out you can get a little creative with the newer Add to desktop option. The next tweak was to get around Chrome's removal of the Application Shortcut feature with some simple editing of the shortcut properties. This combination gets Chrome to cooperate, and I suspect you'll love the results. I know I do! Well worth just a few minutes of your time.

    These shortcuts will make this period of transition for VMware's many UIs a bit easier to cope with. Eventually, you should be able to do everything through HTML5 UIs, but we're not there yet.

    Should you not like to use your taskbar, and are more of a folder person, no problem. Should you like Shortcut keys assignments for these launcher icons, that's easy to do to, just go to the properties of the shortcut, and use the Shortcut key field. These instructions can be altered for your needs.

    Prerequisites

    These instructions were tested with:

    • Windows 10
    • Chrome Version 49 64 bit, but note that it still uses the Program Files (x86) directory, so these instructions should work with 32 bit Chrome as well
    • VMware vSphere 6.0 Update 2

    My less snappy original title was rather informative, but also rather long:
    How to create a Chrome Application Shortcut in your Windows taskbar for vSphere Web Client and vSphere HTML5 Web Client, appifying your browser's UI!

    Here's a more snappy title, more link-baity:
    Use Chrome like a boss, for VMware admin, shortcuts that transmogrify your Web UIs into apps!'

    Once you get the hang of it, you may fall so in love with these icons that you go forward with creating a few more for frequently used browser UIs like NASs, routers, etc. Don't forget to drop a quick comments below to let us know how this worked out for you.

    Enjoy your newfound productivity!


    VMwarevSphereClient

    1) Step-by-step instructions for vSphere Client

    VMware vSphere Client - This is the legacy Windows 32 bit installed application, aka, the C# app. If you don't already have a tray icon for it, here's how to add it:

    1. press Start
    2. type vmware vsphere client
    3. right-click on the top result that shows as Desktop app, choose Pin to taskbar
    4. hover over the new green icon in your taskbar, it should say VMware vSphere Client, single-click to launch it
    5. optionally, if it's running already but you really want to run a second instance, simply right-click on the shortcut, then left click on the top-most identically-named item, that easy!

    ESXiHostClient

    2) Step-by-step instructions for ESXi Embedded Host Client

    VMware Flings ESXi Embedded Host Client - Introduced as a VMware Fling in summer of 2015, this popular and fast HTML5/Javascript UI garned high praise all around, and works even on the free ESXi Hypervisor. With ESXi 6.0U2, it's even built right in!

    1. launch Chrome
    2. bring up your ESXi Embedded Host Client by going to: https://[FQDN or IP]/ui/ changing [FQDN or IP] to your actual ESXi host's name or IP
    3. left-click on the Chrome menu button, the 3 horizontal lines located at the upper right-hand corner
    4. when the drop-down menu appears, hover your mouse over the More tools > option.
    5. select Add to desktop... and be sure Open as window checkbox is selected, click Add
      2016-04-02_11-18-23
    6. use Windows Explorer to navigate to your Desktop folder
    7. select the vSphere Client icon, right-click, select Properties
    8. on the Shortcut tab, change the Target: field, ignoring whatever app-id it chose, from:
      "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --profile-directory=Default --app-id=gbajjkjbafhjoabjfiblblapeckeakke

      to:

      "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --profile-directory=Default --app=https://[FQDN or IP]/ui/

      changing [FQDN or IP] to your actual ESXi name or IP

    9. on the Desktop folder, select the newly-created icon, right-click, select Pin to taskbar
    10. on the Desktop folder, you can delete the shortcut if you'd like, the new taskbar shortcut will still work
    11. hover over the new green icon in your taskbar, it should say VMware ESXi [FQDN or IP of host], single-click to launch it
    12. optionally, if it's running already but you really want to run a second instance, simply right-click on the shortcut, then left click on the top-most identically-named item, that easy!

    vSphereWebClient

    3) Step-by-step instructions for vSphere HTML5 Web Client

    VMware Flings vSphere HTML5 Web Client - This is the brand new HTML5 UI of vSphere's future. Hi hopes it will eventually remove the need for the legacy vSphere Web Client.

    1. launch Chrome
    2. bring up your vSphere HTML5 Web Client by going to: https://[FQDN or IP]:9443/ui/ changing [FQDN or IP] to your actual H5 appliance's name or IP
    3. left-click on the Chrome menu button, the 3 horizontal lines located at the upper right-hand corner
    4. when the drop-down menu appears, hover your mouse over the More tools > option.
    5. select Add to desktop... and be sure Open as window checkbox is selected, click Add
      2016-04-01_23-49-42
    6. use Windows Explorer to navigate to your Desktop folder
    7. select the vSphere Client icon, right-click, select Properties
    8. on the Shortcut tab, change the Target: field, ignoring whatever app-id it chose, from:
      "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --profile-directory=Default --app-id=adiindglcejiojafkhlbjpglnejhdbdb

      to:

      "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --profile-directory=Default --app=https://[FQDN or IP]:9443/ui/

      changing [FQDN or IP] to your actual H5 appliance's name or IP

    9. download the custom icon using Chrome, by right-clicking on H5Client.ico, choose Save link as..., and choose a folder for the ico to be stored
    10. on the taskbar shortcut, right-click, right-click on vSphere Client, choose Properties
    11. on the Shortcut tab, click Change Icon..., select the H5Client.ico file you just downloaded, click OK
    12. on the Desktop folder, select the newly-created icon, right-click, select Pin to taskbar
    13. on the Desktop folder, you can delete the shortcut if you'd like, the new taskbar shortcut will still work
    14. hover over the new shortcut in your taskbar, it should say vSphere Client, single-click to launch it
    15. optionally, if it's running already but you really want to run a second instance, simply right-click on the shortcut, then left click on the top-most identically-named item, that easy!

    H5Client

    4) Step-by-step instructions for vSphere Web Client

    vSphere Web Client - This is the 2+ year old Web UI based on Adobe Flash (Flex), much maligned because it's not the snappiest of ways to get sysadmin done. That said, it's also the ONLY one UI right now where you can get access to ALL of the latest vSphere 6 features. Many are hoping that the newer HTML5/JavaScript UIs will eventually become GA and completely take over, so that the vSphere Web Client can be deprecated.

    1. launch Chrome
    2. bring up your vSphere Web Client by going to: https://[FQDN or IP]/vsphere-client/ changing [FQDN or IP] to your actual VCSA (or vCenter) name or IP
    3. left-click on the Chrome menu button, the 3 horizontal lines located at the upper right-hand corner
    4. when the drop-down menu appears, hover your mouse over the More tools > option.
    5. select Add to desktop... and be sure Open as window checkbox is selected, click Add
      2016-04-01_23-50-17
    6. use Windows Explorer to navigate to your Desktop folder
    7. select the vSphere Client icon, right-click, select Properties
    8. on the Shortcut tab, change the Target: field, ignoring whatever app-id it chose, from:
      "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --profile-directory=Default --app-id=gbajjkjbafhjoabjfiblblapeckeakke

      to:

      "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --profile-directory=Default --app=https://[FQDN or IP]/vsphere-client/

      changing [FQDN or IP] to your actual vCenter or vCenter appliance's name or IP

    9. download the custom icon using Chrome, by right-clicking on vSphereWebClient.ico, choose Save link as..., and choose a folder for the ico to be stored
    10. on the taskbar shortcut, right-click, right-click on vSphere Web Client, choose Properties
    11. on the Shortcut tab, click Change Icon..., select the vSphereWebClient.ico file you just downloaded, click OK
    12. on the Desktop folder, select the newly-created icon, right-click, select Pin to taskbar
    13. on the Desktop folder, you can delete the shortcut if you'd like, the new taskbar shortcut will still work
    14. hover over the new shortcut in your taskbar, it should say vSphere Web Client, single-click to launch it
    15. optionally, if it's running already but you really want to run a second instance, simply right-click on the shortcut, then left click on the top-most identically-named item, that easy!

    VAMI

    5) Step-by-step instructions for VAMI

    VAMI - VMware Appliance Management Interface. An occasional-use, web-based UI for VCSA sysadmin and upgrades.

    1. launch Chrome
    2. bring up your ESXi Embedded Host Client by going to: https://[FQDN or IP]:5480 changing [FQDN or IP] to your actual VCSA appliance's name or IP
    3. left-click on the Chrome menu button, the 3 horizontal lines located at the upper right-hand corner
    4. when the drop-down menu appears, hover your mouse over the More tools > option.
    5. select Add to desktop... and be sure Open as window checkbox is selected, click Add
      2016-04-02_12-34-38
    6. use Windows Explorer to navigate to your Desktop folder
    7. select the vSphere Client icon, right-click, select Properties
    8. on the Shortcut tab, change the Target: field, ignoring whatever app-id it chose, from:
      "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --profile-directory=Default --app-id=gbajjkjbafhjoabjfiblblapeckeakke

      to:

      "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"  --profile-directory=Default --app=https://[FQDN or IP]:5480

      changing [FQDN or IP] to your actual ESXi name or IP

    9. download the custom icon using Chrome, by right-clicking on VAMI.ico, choose Save link as..., and choose a folder for the ico to be stored
    10. on the taskbar shortcut, right-click, on VAMI, choose Properties
    11. on the Shortcut tab, click Change Icon..., select the VAMI.ico file you just downloaded, click OK
    12. on the Desktop folder, select the newly-created icon, right-click, select Pin to taskbar
    13. on the Desktop folder, you can delete the shortcut if you'd like, the new taskbar shortcut will still work
    14. hover over the new shortcut in your taskbar, it should say VMware Appliance Management, single-click to launch it

    6) Step-by-step instructions Video

    In this video, I explain how I create the ultimate VMware sysadmin environment out of a fresh copy of Windows 10, showing the creation of all 5 of these special icons.

    Apr 09 2016 Update

    I need to mention that right-clicking on some of these UIs can result in awkward menu choices, with the browser's context menu sometimes coming up rather than the underlying vSphere admin UI. With an extra click or two, you can work around this, but for now, note that some of these UIs are not perfected yet, whether running as a browser tab, or as a browser application.


    Nov 27 2016 Update

    vSphere 6.5 is out, and VMware has changed the behavior of the Chrome browser a bit, with the URLs showing up along the top again. Still, creating these pinned shortcuts saves a lot of cluster and space, and you can see me re-visiting this topic in this new video, published Nov 18 2016.

    VMware vSphere 6.5 taskbar shortcuts can make your Chrome browser UIs look like native Windows apps!

    See also at TinkerTry


    See also