Dear Lifehacker, The most recent Google Chrome update changes the New Tab page and I don’t like it. It includes a grid of recently and commonly visited websites — I don’t need this as I, like most other people, have my commonly visited websites on my bookmarks bar, and I don’t want my browsing habits shown off if I open a new tab to show something to someone else.
How can I get the old New Tab page back? Or can you suggest some good New Tab page replacements that are minimalistic and load quickly?
Thanks, Not Loving The New Tab Page
The revamping of the New Tab page has certainly been controversial. Because it shows your most frequent pages, it might expose sites that you’d rather other people didn’t see. Our own Chris Jager turned out to have a blameless browsing history when he checked, but there are plenty of reasons you might not want your history to show up. (Yes, porn, obviously, but what if you were shopping for a surprise gift for your partner?)
The grid of visited sites is arguably the most controversial, but there are other objections to the page too. Including a search box for Google seems pointless; after all, one of the major advantages of Chrome is that you can search directly from the omnibox URL bar. (In theory, I suppose, you could change your default search engine and then use the new tab page as an alternative, but I doubt that’s the behaviour Google is trying to drive.)
Given the rapid update cycle for Chrome and the controversy so far, it’s possible we’ll see tweaks in a future version, such as the ability to turn off elements of the New Tab page. In the meantime, there are three distinct approaches you can take: managing what’s shown on the page,
Block sites from showing on the New Tab page
If you hover over an individual site pictured in the grid of recent sites, you’ll see a cross appear in the top-right corner of the image. Move closer to the cross and you’ll see the text ‘Don’t show on this page’. Click on that and the site will disappear, never to be seen again.
That’s helpful if you want to keep your hentai addiction private. (Another option would be to use an incognito window, but not everyone is that organised.) It doesn’t eliminate the New Tab page design, but it makes it less intrusive. The downside is that you need to check occasionally to make sure something else hasn’t shown up on the page.
Disable the New Tab page altogether
If you simply don’t want to see the New Tab page at all, we’ve detailed a hack you can use to switch it off. The downside is that this alters a setting used not just for the New Tab page, but also for providing search suggestions and other Google-related features. So it’s a fairly drastic solution, but the option is there if you want it.
Use an extension for New Tab alternatives
The other possibility is to use a Chrome extension to replace the New Tab page. We recently rounded up some of the best apps and extensions to do that, covering everything from to Windows 8-style interfaces to Google Now emulators. Check them out and see if one meets your needs.
While I wish Chrome had a simple option to make the New Tab page a simple ‘about:blank’ screen, it’s not too hard to work around the current design. If readers have other alternatives they’re using, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.
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