Shiny Tip: Choose Where to Run App with an Option

Quick Shiny Tip: How to use the shiny.launch.browser option to choose where RStudio runs your app.


Garrick Aden-Buie


October 13, 2019


rstats, shiny, tip, trick, option, shiny.launch.browser

When you’re running a Shiny app from a source file, like app.R in RStudio, you can choose to run the app in the Viewer Pane, a new Window, or in an External browser window.

RStudio 'Run App' drop down menu available for Shiny apps, for example in source files named 'app.R'

This works well for typical Shiny apps in app.R or {global,ui,server}.R, but if you’re building a Shiny app inside an R package — and if you are, then definitely check out ThinkR’s golem package — then that little Run App button won’t be available to choose where to run your Shiny apps.

The Shiny runApp() help documentation mentions the global option shiny.launch.browser but this helpful StackOverflow answer provided a helpful hint as to how to actually pick the Viewer, Window or External location for newly launched Shiny apps.

The following options only work in RStudio, and definitely in RStudio 1.2 (I’m running 1.2.1511). If you want to set these options globally in your ~/.Rprofile, then I’d recommend adding a conditional guard to check that RStudio is running first.

if (
  # Make sure that {rstudioapi} is available
  requireNamespace("rstudioapi", quietly = TRUE) &&
  # Returns TRUE if RStudio is running
) {
  options(shiny.launch.browser = your_choice_here)

RStudio shiny.launch.browser Options

Run in Viewer

options(shiny.launch.browser = .rs.invokeShinyPaneViewer)

Run in Window

options(shiny.launch.browser = .rs.invokeShinyWindowViewer)

Run in External Browser

options(shiny.launch.browser = .rs.invokeShinyWindowExternal)