Is it possible to open a Desktop app from an HTML link?

Use Case:
Creating a local HTML site to guide end users through setting up their Mac. A nice-to-have feature would be to have a link that opens the application for the user.

What I have tried so far:

  • HTML stack using the ‘file’ protocol
  • HTML stack using AppleScript to use the ‘tell application’ to activate
  • HTML stack using AppleScript to use the ‘open’ command
  • HTML stack that points the link to run a shell script locally to open the app

None of the above worked and I am sure this is not allowed for security reasons.

Has anyone tried this previously?

I think I may have figured it out… custom URL Schemes.


<a href="msteams:">Open Teams!</a>

Teams has this built in (a function that you call in this example) because you can share links to Teams meetings online.

However, most applications can’t be started using this method.

You mention that you specifically need apps that help the user set up a mac: Apple has quite handily built in calls to open prefpanes in System Settings (Preferences from macOS 13 onwards) and a few other apps that come with macOS.

You can read more about that here.

But there’s no readily available way to launch, say, Photos, Pages or third party apps like Word or Photoshop on a visitors mac.


I found most of the Office Apps have custom URL schemes - OneDrive has one, but it doesn’t open the sync app.

Other apps, like VPN do not have them included.