Chrome’s new tab page is serviceable, but a bit boring. Whether you’re looking for a nice background for your new tab page or want to easily create your own visual bookmarks, add custom widgets, and view live information such as the weather or updates from your social networks, we’ve got a list of ways to make Chrome’s new tab page your own.
Unfortunately, many new tab page replacements don’t have the useful “Recently closed” and “Other devices” options that appear at the bottom of Chrome’s default new tab page, allowing you to reopen closed tabs and open tabs from other devices you’re signed into Chrome on. To reopen a closed tab without using this menu, you can always press Ctrl+Shift+T.
Install Chrome Themes
If you just want a new background, install one of the themes for Google Chrome from the Chrome Web Store. You can also create your own Chrome themes with Google’s My Chrome Theme app. Themes can add backgrounds to your new tab page, giving it more color and personality. We’ve previously covered some beautiful Chrome themes.
Currently stands out among new tab page replacements. Most new tab page replacements are cluttered with options and brightly-colored links to websites. Currently goes in the other direction, offering a more minimal experience. Currently shows the current time and weather on your new tab page — that’s all it does. You’re free to customize the colors, but you can’t add links to websites. If you do want to see links to your favorite websites, you can click the button at the bottom-right corner of Currently’s new tab page to access the standard new tab page.
Speed Dial 2 uses visual bookmarks it calls “dials,” clearly inspired by Opera’s Speed Dial feature. You can create many different dials that function as large thumbnail bookmarks with this extension, even categorizing your thumbnails into different groups. You can also access a sidebar that allows you to browse all your Chrome bookmarks, reopen recently closed tabs, and launch installed Chrome web apps.
This new tab page replacement is particularly good because it gives you large bookmarks for any websites you like. It’s much easier to create large, visual bookmarks with Speed Dial 2 than it is to manually create and install your own Chrome web apps, which is what you have to do with the default new tab page.
Google Now-Style New Tab Page
This new tab page replacement copies the style of Google Now, included by default on Android 4.1 and up and available for Apple’s iOS. Google Now is coming to Chrome soon, but in the meantime you can use this new tab page replacement.
This extension doesn’t actually function like Google Now does or show the same information. Instead, it mimics Google Now’s interface and provides an easy way to perform voice searches, displays up-to-date weather and news, and offers shortcuts to your installed web apps.
OneFeed turns your new tab page into “the ultimate social dashboard.” It fetches content from sites like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Google Drive, and news websites, showing you up-to-date information. Like other new tab pages, it also allows you to you launch recently visited websites and bookmarks.
Unlike some of the other new tab pages here, OneFeed is very polished and is practically a full-fledged web service. Your OneFeed settings will even follow you across computers if you log in.
Awesome New Tab Page is probably the most customizable new tab page replacement. It looks similar to Microsoft’s Windows 8-style interface, formerly known as Metro. However, Awesome New Tab page doesn’t just copy Microsoft’s “Modern” look. It allows you to add apps, bookmarks, and even interactive widgets. For example, you’ll find a clock widget installed by default. You could also install a variety of other widgets, including ones that display weather, Gmail, Twitter, or RSS content right on your new tab page.
If you’re looking for a new tab page that does try to copy Microsoft’s Modern interface as closely as possible, try New MetroTab. Awesome New Tab Page feels only loosely inspired by Windows 8, but New MetroTab feels like an attempt to copy Windows 8′s Start screen as closely as possible in Chrome.
New MetroTab shows your installed apps and recently visited sites. Some apps can even display information in the form of live tiles right on your new tab page, just as live tiles work on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
Empty New Tab Page is a simple extension that allows you to disable the new tab page entirely. After installing this extension, your new tab page will always be blank — no more apps, bookmarks, and recently viewed websites cluttering your browser.
Add Your Own Custom Icons
If you like Chrome’s standard new tab page but wish it had large icons for your favorite websites, there’s a way to get them. Just follow our guide to creating custom Chrome web apps. These web apps become large shortcut icons on your new tab page, allowing you to get direct links to websites that don’t have Chrome web apps. For example, you could create a large shortcut that takes you to your bank’s website or even MakeUseOf.
Do you have a favorite new tab page replacement for Chrome? Leave a comment below and let us know about it, especially if we didn’t mention it above!