Browsers Internet

Make Any New Browser Tab More Useful With 5 Custom Tools

Mihir Patkar 22-04-2017

Start a new tab on any modern browser and you meet the speed dial, a collection of your most visited sites. It’s handy, sure, but the new tab page can be much more useful.


The key to productivity is finding out what works for you. Don’t just apply what a productivity guru says without thinking about your needs. The New Tab page can serve many purposes. If you don’t need a collection of your most visited sites, turn it into something you actually need.

Web apps and extensions are the best way to make this happen. But when you are choosing one, try to find something that works across all browsers. That way, you aren’t restricted to one browser or device alone.

1. Searf (Web): Customized Search Bar and Bookmarks

You can integrate different search engines in the URL bar Custom Search Engines in Google Chrome: Essential Tips and Tricks You can create custom search engines to search any website from Chrome's address bar. Here's how you can make that happen. Read More of any browser you use. But if that’s not you, Searf is the next best option.

new tab search

In the setup process, Searf asks you to choose your favorite websites. Then it asks you for the search engines you use most often. Searf will combine your answers into a custom page for you, which looks a lot like the Google homepage. In the top-left corner, you’ll find your favorite sites, while the large search bar dominates the page. This bar can search whichever engines you chose, like Google, Wikipedia, or YouTube.


Searf has an extension for Google Chrome, but also works as a standalone web app. Make it the default address for any New Tab page in your browser’s settings.

2. Minimalist (Web): Portable Minimalist To-Do List

To be productive, you need to know what you have to do next. Minimalist is a gorgeous and clutter-free to-do list 8 Super Simple To-Do List Tools to Keep You Focused A to-do list is the simplest productivity system. These eight minimalist to-do list tools are for tracking your daily tasks without the fuss. Read More that works in any web browser.

new tab minimalist

It’s one large page with the default to-do list in the middle of it. In the left-side pane, you can create additional lists, to separate your “work tasks” and your “grocery” lists. Finish an item and check the box next to it, so Minimalist will give it a satisfying strikethrough. Nothing like striking items on a to-do list, is there?

You can create a new list and add the custom URL as your New Tab page. I would also recommend signing in to it with Google, since that will let you visit from any device and bring up your list.

3. Awesome HQ (Web): Windows-Like Tiles for Your Browser

If you loved the look of Windows Phone’s Live Tiles, then Awesome HQ is for you. The tile-like interface also makes it one of the few New Tab pages that you can use on a mobile browser as well.

new tab awesome hq

You will need to sign in with a Google login Should You Think Twice Before Logging In Using Social Accounts? Read More to choose the sites you want to add as tiles. Once logged in, Awesome HQ will bring up weather information for your location, arrange bookmarks as beautiful logos, and even add widgets like the latest XKCD comic.

Be warned that the login process is a bit temperamental. It didn’t work for one of the writers at MakeUseOf, but did for another.

4. Shrib / ProtectedText / Textpad (Web): A Simple Notepad

We couldn’t choose between these three wonderful online notepads to use as a New Tab page, so see what works best for you.

Shrib is one of our favorite web apps that don’t need you to register 15 Excellent No-Sign Up Websites for Everyday Use Do you like websites which have no sign-ups, no registerations, and no downloads? Then, you will like these hassle free web apps and sites which make daily productivity a lot easier. Read More . As long as you bookmark the URL, you’re good to go. It will auto-save anything you type in the notepad.

new tab protected text

Protected Text lets you choose your URL name, which is a big bonus. It also password-protects the document. The design is a bit old-school and clunky, but no one else will see what you type.

Textpad is the most modern of three, a minimalistic notepad that also counts characters and words. The only problem is it saves data locally, so you can’t use it across browsers. But hey, your notes aren’t going into the cloud, so that’s a security boost.

5. Live Start Page (Chrome, Firefox, Opera): The All-in-One Extension

There are some things web apps can’t do. Live Start Page is perhaps the best cross-platform New Tab extension.

Live Start Page has three basic features. It showcases beautiful live wallpapers as backgrounds, with a new one coming every day. There’s a meditation mode to help you destress and focus on what matters. And the productivity dashboard 10 Most Productive New Tab Extensions For Google Chrome When you start a new tab in a browser, are you looking to go somewhere or are you looking for information to come to you? Google Chrome has many extensions to make it productive. Read More has your favorite bookmarks, a to-do list, weather forecast, a clock, and other odds and ends to get things done.

Natively, it supports Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. But in reality, apart from Edge and Safari, it works on any browser. Remember, you can now install Chrome extensions on any Chromium-based browsers.

Download — Live Start Page for Chrome (Free), for Firefox (Free), or for Opera [No Longer Available] (Free)

What’s Your New Tab?

Do you use a New Tab extension, or are you stuck with what came by default with your browser? What shows up when you press Ctrl + T?

Related topics: Browser Extensions, Cool Web Apps, Productivity, Tab Management.

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  1. Doc
    April 23, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    I don't even get to see anything on new tabs - I've got Tab Mix Plus to open a new tab for typed URLs, bookmarks, and history, so I never see a "new" tab.

  2. Alan
    April 22, 2017 at 5:41 am

    "Start a new tab on any modern browser and you meet the speed dial, a collection of your most visited sites."

    I dont!
    I use Firefox and any new tab I open, opens on my homepage (Google).