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Add a web app manifest

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The web app manifest is a JSON file that tells the browser about your Progressive Web App and how it should behave when installed on the user's desktop or mobile device. A typical manifest file includes the app name, the icons the app should use, and the URL that should be opened when the app is launched.

Manifest files are supported in Chrome, Edge, Firefox, UC Browser, Opera, and the Samsung browser. Safari has partial support.

Create the manifest.webmanifest file

The manifest file can have any name, but is commonly named manifest.webmanifest and served from the root (your website's top-level directory).

{
"short_name": "Weather",
"name": "Weather: Do I need an umbrella?",
"description": "Weather forecast information",
"icons": [
{
"src": "/images/icons-192.png",
"type": "image/png",
"sizes": "192x192"
},
{
"src": "/images/icons-512.png",
"type": "image/png",
"sizes": "512x512"
}
],
"start_url": "/?source=pwa",
"background_color": "#3367D6",
"display": "standalone",
"scope": "/",
"theme_color": "#3367D6"
}

Key manifest properties

short_name and/or name

You must provide at least the short_name or name property. If both are provided, short_name is used on the user's home screen, launcher, or other places where space may be limited. name is used when the app is installed.

icons

When a user installs your PWA, you can define a set of icons for the browser to use on the home screen, app launcher, task switcher, splash screen, and so on.

The icons property is an array of image objects. Each object must include the src, a sizes property, and the type of image. To use maskable icons, sometimes referred to as adaptive icons on Android, you'll also need to add "purpose": "any maskable" to the icon property.

For Chrome, you must provide at least a 192x192 pixel icon, and a 512x512 pixel icon. If only those two icon sizes are provided, Chrome will automatically scale the icons to fit the device. If you'd prefer to scale your own icons, and adjust them for pixel-perfection, provide icons in increments of 48dp.

start_url

The start_url is required and tells the browser where your application should start when it is launched, and prevents the app from starting on whatever page the user was on when they added your app to their home screen.

Your start_url should direct the user straight into your app, rather than a product landing page. Think about what the user will want to do once they open your app, and place them there.

background_color

The background_color property is used on the splash screen when the application is first launched on mobile.

display

You can customize what browser UI is shown when your app is launched. For example, you can hide the address bar and browser chrome. Games can even be made to launch full screen.

Property Use
fullscreen Opens the web application without any browser UI and takes up the entirety of the available display area.
standalone Opens the web app to look and feel like a standalone native app. The app runs in its own window, separate from the browser, and hides standard browser UI elements like the URL bar.
An example of a PWA window with standalone display.
minimal-ui This mode is similar to standalone, but provides the user a minimal set of UI elements for controlling navigation (such as back and reload).
An example of a PWA window with minimal-ui display.
browser A standard browser experience.

scope

The scope defines the set of URLs that the browser considers to be within your app, and is used to decide when the user has left the app. The scope controls the URL structure that encompasses all the entry and exit points in your web app. Your start_url must reside within the scope.

Caution: If the user clicks a link in your app that navigates outside of the scope, the link will open and render within the existing PWA window. If you want the link to open in a browser tab, you must add target="_blank" to the <a> tag. On Android, links with target="_blank" will open in a Chrome Custom Tab.

A few other notes on scope:

  • If you don't include a scope in your manifest, then the default implied scope is the directory that your web app manifest is served from.
  • The scope attribute can be a relative path (../), or any higher level path (/) which would allow for an increase in coverage of navigations in your web app.
  • The start_url must be in the scope.
  • The start_url is relative to the path defined in the scope attribute.
  • A start_url starting with / will always be the root of the origin.

theme_color

The theme_color sets the color of the tool bar, and may be reflected in the app's preview in task switchers. The theme_color should match the meta theme color specified in your document head.

An example of a PWA window with custom theme_color.

After creating the manifest, add a <link> tag to all the pages of your Progressive Web App. For example:

<link rel="manifest" href="/manifest.json">
Gotchas!

The request for the manifest is made without credentials (even if it's on the same domain), thus if the manifest requires credentials, you must include crossorigin="use-credentials" in the manifest tag.

Test your manifest

To verify your manifest is setup correctly, use the Manifest pane in the Application panel of Chrome DevTools.

The application panel in Chrome Devtools with the manifest tab selected.

This pane provides a human-readable version of many of your manifest's properties, and makes it easy to verify that all of the images are loading properly.

Splash screens on mobile

When your app first launches on mobile, it can take a moment for the browser to spin up, and the initial content to begin rendering. Instead of showing a white screen that may look to the user like the app is stalled, the browser will show a splash screen until the first paint.

Chrome automatically creates the splash screen from the manifest properties, specifically:

  • name
  • background_color
  • icons

The background_color should be the same color as the load page, to provide a smooth transition from the splash screen to your app.

Chrome will choose the icon that closely matches the device resolution for the device. Providing 192px and 512px icons is sufficient for most cases, but you can provide additional icons for pixel perfection.

 

Further reading

There are several additional properties that can be added to the web app manifest. Refer to the MDN Web App Manifest documentation for more information.

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