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You can customize Firefox down to the tiniest detail. That includes giving the start page a makeover and making it more useful. It doesn’t matter whether you think of the home page or the New Tab page as your start page. Here are tips to revamp both.
New Tab Page Makeover
Firefox gives you three in-built options—Enhanced, Classic, Blank—for the new tab. I have never been able to tell the difference between Enhanced and Classic, both of which appear in the speed-dial format. Anyway, you can do away with these default options as described below.
Get a Dedicated Add-on
There are several add-ons designed to put the New Tab page on steroids. Super Start [No Longer Available] is one of them and is quite popular. It gives you a visual way to maintain your bookmarks and also allows you to organize them into groups.
Super Start comes with a handful of muted themes. A tiny notepad and a list of recently closed tabs are tucked away in the corner. The add-on preferences allow you to set Super Start as your home page, view the speed dial in text-only mode, add a search box, etc.
New Tab Tools is also worth trying. It combines a speed dial with the launcher from the default home page. You can choose from a light and a dark theme, tweak the number and arrangement of tiles, and even add custom thumbnail images for the tiles.
If visual appeal is all you want to add to new tabs, you’ll love Browser Backgrounds. Every time you open a new tab, it randomly displays an interesting background from a predefined set. Add your favorite photos and wallpapers to the mix.
Personas Plus is another useful add-on to change Firefox skins quickly.
Add a New Theme
Firefox themes help you make Firefox feel like home. Install one that adds a nice background in new tabs or even allows you to add a custom wallpaper to them. Certain add-ons like Super Start and New Tab Tools (listed above) have an in-built setting to upload a background image of your choice.
Want to preview a theme before installing it? Just hover on its thumbnail on the themes page. Firefox will temporarily display the selected theme instead of the existing one.
Take the makeover a step further by choosing from one of the Complete themes [No Longer Available] that transform the look of various browser elements including tabs, menus, buttons, the address bar, and even the window frame. For example, FXChrome [No Longer Available] makes Firefox look like Chrome.
Home Page Makeover
The default Firefox home page is clean and convenient, but if you want to give it a personal touch, try one of the following alternatives.
Switch to Your Favorite Website
Setting up Firefox to load one of your favorite websites on startup is easy. Open Firefox Preferences via Edit > Preferences, and in the General tab, look for the Home Page field. Add a link to your preferred website there. You can simply type it in or select it from your bookmarks.
If the page is running in the background, you can also click on Use Current Pages. Of course, this will set up multiple urls as home pages if there are multiple tabs open. This means that clicking on the Home button will load all of the pages listed in the Home Page field.
Want the default page back? Not a problem. Restore to Default will bring it back.
Hijack the New Tab Page
By default, you won’t see the home page unless you set it to load when Firefox starts or unless you press the Home icon. How about making it appear every time you open a new tab? Use one of the following methods.
- Install a simple add-on like New Tab Homepage.
- If you already use an add-on like Tab Mix Plus [No Longer Available] to manage tabs like a pro, make the home page your New Tab page from the add-on preferences.
- Type about:config in the address bar, accept the warning that appears, search for browser.newtab.url, and change its value from about:newtab to about:home.
Total Visual Control
The UserStyles.org website has a decent collection of themes for the Firefox home page as well as the New Tab page. Use it with the Stylish add-on and you can gain complete control over how Firefox looks. Here’s how you can go about implementing user styles.
What Does Your Start Page Look Like?
Chrome does seem to have the upper hand when it comes to awesome start screens, but Firefox gives you more options for customization than any other browser. Take advantage of this Firefox freedom. Begin by tweaking that start page. It may or may not drastically improve your workflow, but it will brighten up your browser and give you some nice tools to work with.
Do you make do with the default start page in Firefox? Or have you tweaked it and made it your own?If yes, tell us how in the comments.