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For the past couple of years now, I have more or less been exclusively using Google Chrome as my day-to-day work browser. And it works pretty much the way I want it to, with its speed and its synchronization with my Google account.  Chrome is simply one of the best products that Google has ever produced.

But saying that, there are some irritating things about Chrome that really bother me.  One of them was not being able to bookmark any site I wanted to on my New Tab page.  But now I have found the solution and I want to share it with all of you.

Now first of all, to clear up any potential misunderstandings, when I say “bookmarks”, I don’t mean regular bookmarks like these :

No, in actual fact, what I am talking about are these :

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When you open a new tab page in Chrome, you are presented with logos of sites to open.  Some of them came preinstalled with Chrome but the vast majority are installed after looking in the Chrome Web Store for them. But this can be a very tedious task because first of all, the Chrome Web Store is enormous (who has the time to plough through a lot of crap to find the obscured gold nuggets?) and secondly, a lot of your favourite sites may not have bookmarks made for them already.

So today I am going to show you how to make New Tab Page bookmarks for any site you want.  It’s quick, it’s easy and you’ll be making bookmarks before you know it.

New Tab Page Bookmarks Recipe


  • One website logo (128×128 pixels in size, or thereabouts (the world won’t come to an end if it’s 129×129 pixels) Either do a size search in Google Images for a suitable logo or get a bigger logo and shrink it down using an image editing tool, of which there are LOTS). I prefer SnagIt but that is a paid option. If you want to use something free, you can’t go wrong with Irfanview.
  • Google Chrome (obviously).
  • Notepad (or a similar text file making app).

Step 1 – Make The Folder

Create a new folder in Windows Explorer and inside, place the 128×128 icon.

Step 2 – Make The Script

Open up Notepad (or an equivalent) and copy/paste in the following:

"name": "insert the name of the website here",
"description": "Link to name of website",
"version": "1.1",
"manifest_version": 2,
"icons": {
"128": "icon.png"
"app": {
"urls": [
"add link to desired website here"
"launch": {
"web_url": "add link to desired website here"
"permissions": [

The parts in red italics are the parts you have to alter to suit each bookmark.  For the purposes of this demonstration, the 128×128 icon is simply named “icon.png” but of course you can name it whatever you want.  Simply make sure that you change the name in the script to match the icon name, otherwise nothing is going to show up in Chrome.

When you have filled in all the necessary details, save the file and name it manifest.json .  Then place the saved file inside the same folder as the 128×128 icon.

Step 3 – Go To Your Chrome “Extensions” Page

To get to your Chrome extensions page, simply type chrome://chrome/extensions into your browser address bar and hit enter.  Then on the page, tick the “Developer Mode” box in the top right hand corner.

This will reveal three options, normally hidden from view, as you can see in the above screenshot.  For the purposes of installing our bookmark, we only need the first two “load unpacked extension” and “pack extension“.

Step 4 – Load Unpacked Extension

The Load Unpacked Extension option is for extensions which don’t come from the Chrome Web Store.  Click on that, navigate to the folder you made containing the manifest.json script and the logo and press OK. Upload the actual folder, not the individual files.  You will then (hopefully) see your extension sitting nice and pretty sitting in the extensions list.

Here’s my one for MakeUseOf :

But it isn’t over yet.  There’s still some more work to be done here.  But it’s almost done.

Step 5 – Pack The Extension

Now, click on the other button – pack extension.  This will open up this box.

Ignore the Private key file option.  Instead, focus on the other option – extension root directory.  As you did when unpacking the extension, navigate to the new bookmark’s folder in Windows Explorer, using the browse button.  When you have it in the text field provided in the pack extension box, click the “pack extension” button.

Doing so will create two new files, which you should immediately place inside the folder, alongside the icon and the JSON file – a .CRX file and a .PEM file.  The PEM file is supposedly for when you want to update the extension, but for a simple bookmark, if you want to update it, you can just create a new bookmark and uninstall the old one. You can see here how quick and easy that is. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to keep a hold of the PEM file.

The CRX  file on the other hand is the really important one.  When you download and install extensions from the Chrome Web Store, it’s a CRX file that you are receiving and installing.

Step 6 – The Final Steps

First of all, uninstall the first version of the extension that you installed in your extensions folder, back in step 4.  You can do this by clicking the little trash bin logo to the right of the extension listing.  You have to uninstall this because it will otherwise conflict with the packed version of the extension that you are about to install.

Secondly, keeping your browser on the extensions page (it won’t work if your browser is open on any other tab), drag the newly-made CRX file into Chrome.  You should immediately see this :

So, do as it says – drop that sucker into Chrome! You’ll then see this :

Of course, choose “Add” and your new bookmark will then pop up on your New Tab Page :

Go ahead, give it a spin. Click that baby and be taken into the Interwebs.

Now all that remains is to go back to your extensions page and untick the “Developer Mode” box so the three extra buttons disappear. Unless of course you have a sudden craving to make more bookmarks!


If you are looking for resources for high quality icons, you simply have to use resources such as Google Images, which will give you countless possibilities. Or if you are of the Photoshop / GIMP persuasion, you can make your own icons. If you want a logo for a MakeUseOf bookmark (of course you do), then you can use the (slightly outdated but still valid) logo, which I used, by clicking here.

So what kinds of New Tab bookmarks did you make for your Chrome browser? Did you manage to make your bookmarks without a hitch? Let us know in the comments below.  Oh and if you have any great resources for high quality icons, also drop those links in the comments.

  1. Some Other Guy...
    May 25, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Pretty neat and nice tutorial, but it is a bit impossible to add new extensions (plug-ins) and offline apps that is handcrafted by yourself since Chrome 40 (I've tried it out, and it doesn't work pretty well for me).

    BTW, for anyone who really is crazy about adding bookmarks as Chrome apps, here the minimal manifest.json code I've made by myself. It's a bit shorter:
    "manifest_version": 2,
    "name": "",
    "description": "",
    "version": "1.0",
    "icons": {"128": ""},
    "app": {"launch": {"web_url": ""}}

  2. Martin Ristovski
    January 3, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks a lot for this tutorial.

  3. Jeff Hein
    December 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Very handy and informative guide! Thanks a bunch!

  4. Shahbaz Amin
    December 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you!!
    I will have to come back and follow it properly... :O

  5. Suvadeep Paul
    December 5, 2012 at 8:01 am

    This is really good stuff...I will need it...Thanks..

  6. Aleks
    December 5, 2012 at 7:46 am

    This is a great tip. Thanks!

  7. Tim Schluter
    December 5, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Is there a limit to the number of bookmarks that can be installed?
    I can see myself going crazy with this. I'd like to have a lot of my regular bookmarks in the New Tab Page.
    Thanks. Oh and I'll point the finger towards you when the wife complains I'm spending too much time at the computer.

    • Mark O'Neill
      December 5, 2012 at 9:15 am

      I can't give you a definitive answer one way or another, as I "only" have 20. I assume you can keep going. Let us know if you hit a limit! :-)

  8. Kimberly Noh
    December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I am so new to Google that I will need a whole month to figure out how to make it work for my practice. I hate outlook but I have to use both gmail and outlook as I can't get gmail to act the way outlook does with folders important tasks followups ect. I am going to attempt this one and see if I am smart enough for it.

  9. Gerald Huber
    December 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I love to tinker around with this kind of thing. right now I also use speed dial and it works fine but I will give this a whirl just cuz i can. thanks

  10. Joel Lee
    December 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I don't really use the Chrome tabs page, but if features like this are possible, I may just start... Nice tutorial.

  11. Magnus Juhl Petersen
    December 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I've been doing that a lot before.
    Recently stopped, because it's simply not worth it.
    Spending so much time writing these files and gathering images just to add a bookmark.

    So.. I've been working on a secret project for some months! :3
    From there you can easily add & sync your bookmarks and more.

  12. Michael Jan Moratalla
    December 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

    nice I like this I will soon transfer from firefox to chrome so I need this thanks it's very useful

  13. Marian Cimbru
    December 1, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Thanks for this tip! Save this article to Pocket for later trying...

  14. Mike Crabill
    December 1, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Very interesting and fun if you like playing around with mods and customizing your programs.

  15. Aditya
    November 30, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Dear Mark
    You did a great job!
    Just want to tell you that the unpacked extension will never load until you prefix the website address with a "http://"

    • Shahbaz Amin
      December 6, 2012 at 5:36 am


  16. Aditya
    November 30, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Dear Mark,
    You did a great job!
    Just want to tell you that the unpacked extensions will never load until the links are prefixed with a "http://".

    • Mark O'Neill
      November 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Of course. I apologize if I didn't make that clear in the article.

  17. Achraf Almouloudi
    November 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I like it but I have found out that it's nearly impossible to find 1:1 logos to match Google rule of 128x128 which is lame .

    • Mark O'Neill
      November 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      But you can get a larger image on Google Images that is the same height and width, and simply shrink it down. So get (for example) a 200x200 image and shrink it down to 128x128. No problem.

      • Achraf Almouloudi
        December 1, 2012 at 1:05 am

        Try it, you wouldn't be able to find such 200x200 image, it is what I mean by 1:1 aspect ratio (number of vertical pixels is same as horizontal pixels) so that's why I do not agree on Google choice of 128x128 resolution, it is not easily found.

  18. Ashutosh
    November 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    You can also create bookmarks (or apps) by dragging sites from the "Most Visited" page to the "Apps" page. The downside is that Chrome doesn't sync these "apps", in case you have multiple PCs.

  19. Steve
    November 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    IMO it seems like quite a large bit of work, when you could use something like Speed Dial 2 ( I've been using it for at least two years. It still allows you to access almost all of the features of the regular NT page. You can also use your own HR images or Screenshots. It does grouping also.

  20. Shubham Rao
    November 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    good trick

  21. Anonymous
    November 30, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    This is pretty cool, but there is an extension for Google Chrome that allows you to do this much easier. It is called Awesome New Tab Page and works well

  22. Anandu B Ajith
    November 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I Am Not An Idiot

    • Mark O'Neill
      November 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      No-one said you were :-)

  23. vineed gangadharan
    November 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

    that was an awsum article ,,,thanks :D

  24. Christopher Miliotti
    November 30, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Nice information and guide to creating own extension! imo its much simpler to just get an already made extension like "SpeedDial2" which does exactly this but easier. Its been great!

  25. Benny Teo
    November 30, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Here's a simpler way to do it, however it requires your site to be on the "Most visited" tab.

    1) Go to your "Most Visited" tab
    2) Drag & drop the thumbnail of the site you want to "bookmark" to the Apps tab.

    the other problem with it is that you cannot customise your own icon.

    • Anonymous
      November 30, 2012 at 5:58 am

      Do you know of a way to force a site to be shown on the "Most visited" tab? There is one I use multiple times daily, but it never shows. I think I might have accidentally clicked the "dont show on this page" button, but now I can't get it back. I don't want to reset everything & start over.

      • Mark O'Neill
        November 30, 2012 at 9:10 am

        No idea sorry. Have you looked in the Chrome help pages? Or you could try our own MakeUseOf Answers to see if anyone knows...

        Let us know what you find out....

    • Mark O'Neill
      November 30, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Yes that works, but as you said, you can't change the icon. You get a blurred screenshot image and that doesn't look very nice.

  26. Sam K
    November 30, 2012 at 4:50 am

    Or you could just use a 3rd party new tab replacement like speed dial 2. It just works looks better than standard chrome new tab page and FULLY customizable.

    • Alexander
      December 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      I use Awesome New Tab where there is a link to MakeUseOf. Easy way to get to makeuseof :P

  27. Terafall
    November 30, 2012 at 4:42 am

    I think its easier to use as startpage than do all that

    • Mark O'Neill
      November 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Where's the fun in using someone else's page? That's too easy! :-)

  28. RYan
    November 30, 2012 at 3:53 am

    I liked the idea till I saw all the steps required. Not really worth the effort IMO when the bookmark bar is so much easier to use, can include way more bookmarks and can include folders.

    • Mark O'Neill
      November 30, 2012 at 9:13 am

      But who wants to dig into folders and look for a specific bookmark when you can just have it on your New Tab page?

      The process sounds like a lot but it isn't really. Once you have the basic manifest.json file set up, doing more is simple :

      1. Copy the file, paste it, and rename it.
      2. Swap out the icons.
      3. Change the URL details in the JSON file.
      4. Install it in the extensions page.

      Once you get into the rhythm of it, you'd be amazed at how fast you can whip up bookmark extensions.

    • Crazie Flawed Narcissistic-VampDoll
      December 3, 2012 at 7:50 am

      "YESSSS" im my Morpheus voice!

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