Give Google Chrome’s New Tab Page a Makeover with SpeedDial

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chrome-newtabs1 Google Chrome, the free web browser from Google, has dozens of “small detail” features that can really improve your browsing experience.  One of these features is the new tab page: instead of a useless blank page, Chrome automatically displays a list containing thumbnails from the websites you visit most frequently.

Just because Chrome offers this cool feature doesn’t mean it can’t be improved, so in this guide I’m going to introduce you to Speed Dial for Chrome, a great extension that can make your new tab page look and function better.

Speed Dial

Speed Dial is a great extension for Chrome that replaces the default new tab page with large, visually-striking buttons and is highly customizable.  With Speed Dial, you can take your standard new tab page:

speed dial for chrome

And turn it into this:

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speed dial for chrome

Getting Started

To start using Speed Dial, head on over to the Speed Dial’s Chrome extension page.  Click the blue Install button and the extension will be ready to go!

Setting up your favorite websites in Speed Dial is very easy.  When viewing a website you want to include on your new tab page, simply click the Speed Dial icon in the URL bar and select Add Current Page.  To view your new tab page, you have a few options:

  • Open a new blank tab with CTRL + T.
  • Open a new blank tab by clicking the wrench icon in the top right of the browser and selecting New tab.
  • Click the Speed Dial icon and select Open Speed Dial.

speed dial for chrome

Your improved new tab page will show thumbnails of the websites you’ve chosen and is highly customizable.

Customizing Your Speed Dial Page

Icons

The first thing you’ll probably want to do is rearrange your Speed Dial icons – this can be easily done by dragging and dropping.  You can also change how many items are displayed on your new tab page by clicking the Options button.

google chrome speed dial If you have a lot of websites you want to include on your new tab page, Speed Dial can be customized to show up to a 9 x 9 grid (81 websites total) – and if you manage to fill the maximum-sized Speed Dial, you better share a link to a picture in the comments!  I prefer to keep things as minimal as possible, so I kept my Speed Dial set at the default 3 x 4 grid.

You’ll probably notice that when you first add sites to Speed Dial, a thumbnail containing a screenshot of the website is displayed by default.  If you’re like me and find that to be a little too boring, Speed Dial recently added the option to customize icons with any image you like.  To do this, right click a Speed Dial icon and select Edit Dial.  In this menu you can change the title and address of the button, and you can also select an icon from a predefined list or add your own.

google chrome speed dial

Speed Dial has logos for dozens of popular websites, but if you can’t find one you can simply enter a URL to an image in the Dial Image URL field and it will automatically be used as the button’s icon.

To remove a website from your new tab page, simply right click it and select Remove Dial.

Themes

Since we’ve all got different tastes, Speed Dial includes several different themes to change the look of your new tab page.  To change your theme, click the Options button and choose from any of the available colors.

google chrome speed dial

If you aren’t satisfied with just changing the color of Speed Dial, you can set a background image to really change the look.  Any image works, but it currently needs to be hosted online.  The developer notes that they will soon be adding support for local background images, so keep an eye out for future updates.

Here’s a good tip: if you pick a dark background and can’t read your text anymore, select the Black theme.  This won’t change your background image, but it will make your text white so it will be readable again.

chrome-newtabstheme

You can get the Super Mario theme here.

Bookmarks, Search, & More

Like the original new tab page, Speed Dial displays a list of your bookmarked websites in a small strip across the top of the new tab page.  You can also quickly perform a search with Google by using the search box just below the bookmarks strip.

chrome-newtabs-links

Speed Dial has many more options I haven’t covered in this guide, so check out the rest of the Options page and play around with the settings to make your perfect new tab page.

Do you know of any other extensions for Chrome that can improve, enhance, or make the new tab page better?  Share them with us in the comments, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our great articles about Google Chrome.

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