i am familiar with uploading an arduino bootloader onto an atmega328p using another arduino via the arduino IDE. i have also installed software 'sketches' using that process which i believe leaves out the bootloader(meaning one wouldnt be able to upload new sketches in the future via usb). my question is: is it possible to load both the bootloader and a software program onto the chip via icsp? many thanks in advance.
The Arduino builder creates for AVR boards not only hex file for the sketch, but it creates a combined hex with bootloader and sketch too. It is for example for Blink.hex a Blink_with_bootloader.hex. If you use in IDE the "Export compiled binary" command in Tools menu, the builder puts the hex files next to ino file in your sketch folder.
If you want the command "Upload using programmer" to upload hex with the bootloader, modify in platform.txt the
tools.avrdude.bootloader.pattern key to use