Backstitch: A Viable Personalized Start Page Alternative For iGoogle Refugees

Tim Brookes 28-09-2012

personalized start pageWhen Google announced that they are planning to retire iGoogle in November of next year, reactions were split between “what’s iGoogle?” and “what will I use now?”. In case you’re not aware, iGoogle is a personalized homepage that allows you to arrange customized widgets 5 Cool Retro Games You Should Add To Your iGoogle Page iGoogle is a personal, customizable homepage which every Google account owner can make use of. iGoogle lets you add multiple different gadgets, such as Gmail updates, news, weather and games, and access them easily every... Read More just how you want in order to keep track of your oft-used services.


Plenty of MakeUseOf readers were disappointed with the news, which was reflected in the popularity of an article we published suggesting alternatives Great Personalized Start Pages: 6 Alternatives To iGoogle If you’ve not yet heard, Google plans to pull the plug on iGoogle in November 2013 in addition to a few other services like Google Video and Google Mini. Though the company have yet to... Read More . It’s been a while since a new service has sprung up though, so it’s nice to see a modern take on the customised home page called Backstitch [Broken URL Removed].

The service is still in its infancy but growing by the day and unlike many of the older services will continue to be improved in the near future. Read on for our full review of this new take on an old concept.

More Than A Home Page

I personally have not used a home page now for as long as I can remember, partly due to the fact that OS X simply re-opens Chrome every time I happen to restart and mainly because I never actually close my browser. Home pages hark back to a time before tabbed browsing was the norm and your bookmarks never dreamed they would one day reside online Sync Your Google Chrome Bookmarks With Your Android Device Using ChromeMarks Lite ChromeMarks Lite for Android can sync your Google Chrome bookmarks with your Android device. The tool supports syncing bookmarks in both ways between Google Chrome on your desktop and the Android app. Limitations of the... Read More .

Of course, a start page is what you see when a new browser window opens and your is probably set to default because if you’re anything like me every time you open a new page you’re already typing in a search query or URL. It seems almost “wasteful” in this day and age to have a new tab load some remote server somewhere when you can simply pin this tab and check it at your leisure. And that’s how I’d recommend using Backstitch.

personalized start page


Google are wise to the fact that the home page is fast becoming a thing of the past. Their own browser, Chrome, is now the most-used vehicle for browsing the Web, and the “one bar fits all” approach to URLs and search queries negates the necessity to ever actually visit ever again. Of course this doesn’t mean people don’t still see a use for services like iGoogle, as was displayed by the overwhelming popularity of our alternatives post. If you feel this way, then Backstitch is for you.

personalized start page google

Set it up, pin the tab and leave it open to peruse at your leisure – it’s a modern take on the iGoogle formula. Instead of widgets, Backstitch uses “Patterns” which are essentially the same thing, and offer a window on the website or service of your choice without actually having to visit it. Patterns have another use though, and that is that they can be conglomerated into a tidier list for easier reading, in the service’s wildcard called Threads. By keeping everything roughly categorised, this allows for easier reading.

personalized start page google


Patterns, Threads & The Dashboard

Patterns come in all sorts of flavours, though at the moment support on the ground is quite thin. This is not much of a problem if you’re looking for news feeds from your favourite sites, because Backstitch comes with a search engine and custom RSS Pattern, allowing you to add your own sources of news if the current selection doesn’t do it for you. It works as expected, with the added bonus of being able to filter by keyword.

personalized start page google

There are also Patterns for social channels including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as You don’t necessarily need to pair your accounts to use all of these, with both and Twitter containing Patterns for search terms (or the entire public stream) though in testing I couldn’t get Twitter’s public user stream to load. There are also a good deal of other services that allow you to pair your accounts, including Tumblr and Instagram. Facebook users can also pull articles (and only articles) from their news feed into a Pattern if they wish, a particularly nice feature if you’re fond of the Like button.

personalized start page


The Patterns view offers a customisable dashboard view, which most iGoogle refugees will like and enjoy setting up the way they want. There are some teething problems getting this to stay where you want, but it serves its purpose nicely. Click the Threads button in the top left and you will be able to view your categories as nicely laid out scrolling full-size windows – showing off all the photos, news, shopping offers and other content in an infinitely less bombarding manner than the standard dashboard view. It’s like an iGoogle reader, where you can have a tightly organised dashboard full of your interesting online services but then switch to an altogether more attractive view to actually read your headlines and view images.


You’ll like Backstitch if you’re lamenting the imminent loss of iGoogle and find services like My Yahoo! to be lacking in the polish department. The developers need to add more services, but the selection is already healthy and provides a nice catch-all interface from which to peruse your social media accounts and the headlines. If you’re reading to this part of the review you’re undoubtedly the sort of person who finds this kind of service useful, and I see no reason you shouldn’t go ahead and try it out.

Do you like Backstitch? Switched from iGoogle? Prefer other services? Add your thoughts in the comments, below.

Related topics: Homepage, iGoogle.

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  1. Marc Aguilar
    October 23, 2012 at 6:57 am

    I found a great new homepage which I think would be useful to you, as it is to me. is simple and easy to use. This is a perfect alternative for igoogle as it is closing in 2013.

  2. Becky
    October 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    I tried Backstitch. It looks interesting, but I like the tabs on igoogle. On my main page I have my most used tabs--email, news, favorite blogs, etc. But then I'd have tabs for subjects I liked but didn't spend as much time on--cooking blogs, etc. Is this possible with backstitch? I know it said somewhere that they were trying to avoid tabs, but maybe that's the tabs on the browser.

  3. MetaphorsBeWIthYou
    October 1, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Tabbed browsing can be a resource hog. Opening Chrome with multiple tabs with multiple extensions opens each extension in each tab. Use the tabbed feature judiciously.


  4. Reý Aetar
    September 30, 2012 at 6:28 am

    all good but the main problem is it asks to login each time you open your browser now thats weired for a home page

    • Jordan Warzecha
      September 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      Sorry about that, we just a pushed an update that should fix this. Thanks for joining backstitch!

      Jordan Warzecha
      Co-Founder of backstitch

  5. joe dante
    September 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm


  6. Peter Schott
    September 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    My main reason for using iGoogle in the first place is for a widget that makes it super easy to check my voice mail without jumping through hoops on AT&T's site. If they make that widget portable, I'd be content. I will definitely check out Backstitch just to know some more about it.

  7. Vipul Jain
    September 28, 2012 at 4:52 am

    iGoogle refugees, that is so pinpoint correct!
    I myself am one.
    But i'd rather stick to ig till Nov 2013 and then try out something else :D

  8. macwitty
    September 28, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Never used iGoogle but Backstitch seems to be something to give a try