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A good start screen can transform the way you browse and work. It’s time you got one.

As soon as you open a new tab in Chrome, you’re likely to get carried away by the endless information, not to mention the sneaky opportunities for time wasting, that the Web offers. While it’s nice to lose yourself in the complexities of the Web once in a while, doing so on a daily basis can get counterproductive and stressful real quick.

Tough as it may sound, you need to steer clear of online distractions to get more out of the Web 4 Solid Ways To Get The Best Of The Web 4 Solid Ways To Get The Best Of The Web The Web is a a gigantic labyrinth. If this digital minefield leaves you overwhelmed and anxious, adopting the following simple mantras can act as a tonic and help you manage your Web space better. Read More . That’s where the following start screens can come to your rescue. Use one of these alternatives for the New Tab page, to ensure that you’re browsing effectively.

Dayboard

Are you a Web worker chasing a deadline? If yes, a no-nonsense start screen like Dayboard can work wonders to keep you on the right track. It puts the focus on your to-do list, or rather the five most important items you have to accomplish for the day. In the extension’s Focus Mode, you can go through the tasks one by one, finishing them and marking them done as you go along.

dayboard

As of now, Dayboard is a simple extension that reminds you of your tasks for the day every time you open up a new tab. Future iterations of the extension promise additional features. If you would like to have the to-do list functionality in a more eye-catching format, the yummy Momentum extension showcased in Yaara’s post on two super-useful start screens 2 Super-Useful Browser Start Screens You Should Start Using Today 2 Super-Useful Browser Start Screens You Should Start Using Today Ah, the new tab page. Such a great opportunity for productivity that so often goes to waste. And it's hard to find the perfect one. Read More  is the way to go.

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Dream Afar

If your browsing often begins with a Web search, turn Dream Afar into your start screen. It’s visually much more appealing than the bland Omni box, and adds useful info like the local time and weather, and links to your most visited websites. Unfortunately, the choice of search engines is limited.

dream-afar

The extension also includes discreet links to your browsing history, apps, and bookmarks. All these key digital elements are set against a rich wallpaper that changes daily. The resulting interface is simple and stunning. Want to tweak an element or two? You do have a few options for that. All in all, Dream Afar is an interesting way to open a new tab.

dream-afar-settings

Lightning Speed Dial

Neither too simple, nor too complex, Lightning Speed Dial offers just enough options to help you craft an inviting start screen for yourself. Create multiple categories to organize your favorite websites in the speed dial format, and have them accessible with minimal effort. Add a beautiful background image to spice things up visually. Back up the settings to a local file, which makes for easy recovery if the need arises. The extension provides easy access to the extension manager as well as a handful of options to control tab behavior.

lightning-speed-dial

Spots

The feature-rich and highly customizable Spots extension turns your start page into a centralized dashboard to give you maximum control over your browsing and online life.

Opening a new tab presents you with a colorful gallery view of links or spots, including the recent and most visited ones. This arrangement is a godsend if your browsing habits border on the superbusy. You can add new links, organize them into categories, open multiple ones with a single click, and even customize their icons. Chatting from your desktop and getting call notifications are two top features of this extension.

spots

The Settings page is a tinkerer’s delight. It’s filled with options for theme presets, backgrounds, colors, search, notifications, tab behavior, content discovery, etc. Sync your settings to your Google or Facebook account, and you don’t have to worry about losing them. Spots is also available for Android.

spots-settings

Ready For A New Tab?

For many of us, Chrome is the go-to app for work as well as play, and opening up a new tab sets the stage for navigating all of the Web. A well-chosen start screen 9 Ways to Customise the New Tab Page in Chrome 9 Ways to Customise the New Tab Page in Chrome 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... Read More  is just what you need to go from aimless to effective browsing in a minute.

Which Chrome extension brings your start screen alive? Let us know in the comments.

  1. Tom
    July 8, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Accelerate Tab has brought me a warning from Comodo. Spots simply disappeared one day a month or so ago, to be replaced by a new-tab page that I can't now remember. I'm using Accelerate Tab anyway, now, but I may try one of the new ones you have shown here.

  2. Doug D
    July 7, 2014 at 4:17 am

    How about Frummo?

  3. Tom Chicago
    July 4, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    What about security for these pages? Some of the start pages I've used have been flagged by Avast and Commodo. I don't know the technicalities, but are there security risks/malware bundled with some of these?

    • Justin P
      July 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Tom: which extensions gave warnings?

  4. Denise E
    July 4, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I currently use Limitless, which I stumbled upon by accident. Can't remember how I found out about it - maybe while browsing the extension store one day?

    Anyway, Dream Afar reminds me a little of Limitless, where it has lovely backgrounds, and even has a little greeting or quotes: such as, Good evening ! Sleep is important, make sure you have a good night's sleep. They also have quotes- but the selection so far is pretty limited.

    One of the interesting details about Limitless is that it provides a speed dial with a twist - it lists the most common visited sites AND with a label showing you how long you have been on that site for. (Timer resets each day). This is useful because you then notice how long you have spent on facebook or buzzfeed or pinterest - and perhaps be prompted to get off the computer and get some real work done.

    Another useful feature is the "notepad" which allows you to write down thoughts so you can write any distractions down and get on with your task. My gripe is that it's much easier for me to grab a paper and pen than to use this, but then again, the notepad icon is nestled in between the speed dial sites - so it's not bad I suppose.

    I didn't pay much attention to the tutorial about all the features it had - but it does the job for me, so I would recommend it!

    • Akshata
      July 5, 2014 at 4:28 am

      Hey Denise,
      I have tried Limitless and I must say it has quite a few useful features. Dream Afar, Momentum, and Limitless are kind of similar in their approach. It's tough to pick one :)
      Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. AnthonyL
    July 4, 2014 at 4:05 pm
  6. Palash C
    July 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Bookolio was just perfect for me.Its search friendly. As a recent bar and shows my bookmarks all in lists.
    The only problem I faced was lower startup times with chrome, which annoyed me.

    • Akshata
      July 4, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      I have never heard of that one. I did find it on MakeUseOf though. Thanks for the tip, Palash.

  7. Adhar S
    July 4, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Shader 3D New Tab page looks awesome and is minimal. Good for people who dont frequently use the many features above new tab pages provide.

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/shader-3d-new-tab/dakgbglbnknamgmkelnidgjadghljmjo?hl=en

  8. Jessica C
    July 4, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Nice roundup, Akshata! Dayboard sounds really useful, I might load that one up at work to help me stay focused.

    It's nice that all of designs manage to keep a certain level of minimalism, too. This kind of product seems like it would be ripe for feature-creep/feature-itis, just ready to become bloated, cluttered, and useless.

    • Akshata
      July 4, 2014 at 5:16 am

      Thank you, Jessica! Dayboard is helpful, but it's just as tempting to choose Dream Afar or Momentum because of the stunning background images.

      Oh, there are plenty of those bloated apps too, but thankfully their number is on the wane, because people are realizing more is not necessarily better.

  9. Sa J
    July 3, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I'm currently using Speed Dial 2, which is highly customizable. It's similar to Lightning Speed Dial mentioned in the article.

    I am also a fan of Humble New Tab Page. You can use Humble and have your bookmarks shown on the new tab, along with weather and apps.

    • Akshata
      July 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Both of these look interesting. I personally prefer the simpler look of Humble New Tab Page. Thanks for the tip, Sa!

  10. Zack McCauley
    July 3, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Awesome New Tab Page
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/awesome-new-tab-page/mgmiemnjjchgkmgbeljfocdjjnpjnmcg?hl=en

    Great for some. Easy to build upon, and some developers develop additional extensions just for it.

    Kinda funny how you used the Momentum image, as the post headliner image, and only gave it a small snippet link in another article. It has been covered before so...

    • Akshata
      July 4, 2014 at 9:13 am

      Hi Zack,
      Awesome New Tab Page looks highly customizable and perfect for those who like visually rich apps.

      I wanted to use the Dream Afar image for the header, but couldn't find a way to change the image manually, so I ended up using the Momentum image because it still represented a start screen. Good catch, though :)

    • Anna
      July 6, 2014 at 1:41 am

      I have added the extension defender and it is giving me an alert message, that Awesome New Tab Page is known to be adware or malicious.

      But I am not so confident that an extension defender can be trustworthy.

      Could a computer savvy enlighten us? How can anyone check the safety of the extensions?

  11. Akshata
    July 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Hey Alonso,
    If you don't like to keep the Bookmarks Bar option enabled, try using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+B to hide and show the bookmarks bar as and when you need it.

  12. Alonso Vega
    July 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    These new tab pages look really cool. The problem I have with having a different new tab page than the default one is that they usually hide the Bookmarks bar (I don't like to have the "Always Show Bookmarks Bar" enabled) where as the default one keeps it.

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