By now, customizing Chrome’s New Tab Page isn’t a new concept – there are lots of apps and extensions that can do this. And in that rises the problem – there are so many to choose from.
Do you want something clean and minimal? Do you want something full-featured? Do you want something that is just functional and gets the job done? Do you want all of the above?
We all have different tastes when it comes to looks, and needs when it comes to function, so perhaps you’ve been a bit overwhelmed with the vast amount of options available. We’ve covered several new tab pages already here at MakeUseOf, but I found four more that range in characteristics and functionality. So before you settle on one, take a look at these.
Humble New Tab Page
Since discovering Humble New Tab Page, I’ve been quite impressed, and it has worked its way up in the ranks as one of my favorite new tab pages of all time. So what makes Humble New Tab so unique? To sum it up, it provides a nice balance between a clean and minimalistic interface, personal customizations, and being very functional. It shows just a handful of useful links to bookmarks, such as most visited and recently bookmarked sites, with the weather thrown in for good measure.
The small “wrench” icon in the top right corner of the page displays the settings, which are broken up into three sections: “Settings”, “Appearance”, and “Advanced”.
The settings tab gives you control of how you interact with Humble New Tab Page, which content is displayed, and how it’s displayed.
Unlike many new tab pages, minimalistic or not, Humble New Tab page allows you to customize virtually every aesthetic aspect – font type and size, background image, page colors and layout, and more.
Lastly, there’s the Advanced tab which might be intriguing and useful to those with coding skills, specifically in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
X New Tab Page
X New Tab Page is the new tab page that should be default in Chrome. It provides quick access to everything you need – weather, search, bookmarks, extensions, even Chrome’s default New Tab Page.
In addition, you can adjust how the tiles are displayed and several other features. But probably the best feature is the ability to login socially with Google, Facebook or Twitter and back up the extension settings to the cloud. You can also manually back up the data by exporting it to your computer, or even import data into X New Tab Page from Speed Dial 2.
If you are finding yourself needing more space for your shortcuts, you can expand and even organize them by group – as well as customize the icon for each group.
When adding shortcuts, X New Tab Page provides a large list of sites and shortcuts you might want. But it’s not just websites (which are organized by type) – you’re also able to add apps.
If a website isn’t on the list, you can simply add it manually.
X New Tab Page also has a large assortment of wallpapers and background customizations.
StartHQ is a simple, but nice looking new tab page that requires you to sign up to use it – this allows your customizing and changes to be attributed to an account, which can be saved, as opposed to having it on your computer and risking it being lost.
StartHQ doesn’t have a lot of features currently, as it’s still fairly new, but it does have a few that set it apart from other new tab pages. One of these features is a directory of web apps, which you can access by clicking the “earth” icon on the bottom bar of the page. By default they’re sorted by popularity, but they also have various category labels, like “Development”, “Collaboration”, “Productivity”, “Academia”, and so on. You can search by those categories, by clicking one alongside a web app. This is a great way to find new useful tools on the web.
If that last feature didn’t give you a clue that StartHQ is big on productivity, perhaps this next one might. If you click the middle “group of people” icon on the bottom bar, you’ll see that you can invite colleagues StartHQ and view the tools they use. This is a great way to collaborate and learn about new tools that are benefitting those you work with.
The last feature that I was the most impressed with is called Deep Links. Before I saw this feature, I just saw StartHQ as a decent new tab page extension, and not one that stood out from the many other great ones available. However, this feature is worth having. Deep links gives you the ability to go to a specific page within various websites like Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Google, Tumblr, YouTube, and many more. As you can tell from the image below, the idea here is to help you navigate to the page you want quicker – again, this display’s StartHQ’s focus on productivity.
Note: Due to StartHQ still being quite new, some of these features, like Deep Links, may not be available for everyone immediately. Be patient – they’ll come, or contact them via Twitter or the Feedback link – they seem eager to help.
If you’re looking for something that’s practically identical to the layout of the default New Tab Page in Chrome, but allows for a few extra customizations, you might want to look at Launchpage. One problem it solves is the ability to quickly add website links to it. Did you know you can add website links to Chrome’s default tab page? No? That’s because it’s not easy. The only efficient way I found to do it was by dragging a bookmark down to the New Tab Page. Launchpage solves this problem by adding a “rocket” icon in the address bar that allows you to quickly add any webpage to your Launchpage.
Launchpage doesn’t have many options (which keeps things simple), but it does allow you to change the background image, and toggle the icon in the address bar.
Even More Options
Like I said at the beginning of the article, these are definitely not the only ones available. I previously linked to Chris’s article which includes some of the best ways you can customize the new tab page. But there are many other extensions for New Tabs that we’ve covered, such as 5 Brilliant Start-Page Extensions [Chrome], 8 Ways To Spruce Up A Spare Chrome Browser Tab, The Incredible StartPage, and iStart, The Windows 8 Style New Tab Page.
Do you have a favorite new tab page that you’ve been using? We’d love for you to share them with us – feel free to share any pros and cons that you’ve experienced with them as well.