Ask LH: How Can I Fix Chrome's New Tab Page?

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

Dear NLTNTP,

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.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    But Chrome's new tab page always had your most frequently visited sites! People are only noticing this now that the Google doodle and search bar have been added to it? The ability to select "Don't show on this page", mentioned in this article, has always been there too.

      The difference is it can't be hidden now by switching to the app page, like you used to be able to. I think most people who were whinging always had their apps appear instead of frequent sites.

        So what did they do before the apps page was added?

          No idea, they probably weren't Chrome users back then :P

          We used a homepage for our new tab option.

          The new tab page they had before they added the apps page was the best version in my opinion; you could drag and pin which sites appeared on the big tiles so you could arrange them exactly as you wanted. I was fantastic, the reason I started using Chrome, and intuitive enough that other browsers started copying it. I have no idea why they would change it. Now the tiles are tiny, low on the screen (meaning farther mouse traveling, inconvenient for trackpads) and you can't rearrange them. And there's a huge, pointless google searchbar!

    I've been using Currently as a new tab page replacement, and have been very happy with it - quick, clean and simple.

    I followed the instructions to Create Separate Profiles in Google Chrome - when Chrome is launched normally it just opens a default profile with some basic bookmarks and extensions, and when I want to use it myself I open it with a custom shortcut that can be named anything and placed anywhere.

      Uh, why? Seems like unnecessary stuffing around.

        why? Clearly this is how he's hiding all of the porn tabs! :P

        I might actually use that idea too, because I really hate having all my recently visited sites show up. I just want to be able to turn things back like they were without having to goof around with chrome flags.

    Uh, set your new tab page to about: or google?

    I don't think I've used the New Tab in ages. I know which sites I need, and if I don't, I type my search query into the omnibar and hit Alt+Enter. Search in a new tab, no muss, no fuss.

    I miss my 'recently tabs' and 'other devices' at the bottom. Sure, you can get recent tabs in the settings menu, but that's nowhere near as cool.

    Stupid Chrome.

    If you install the "New Tab Redirect" extension, you can set new tabs to open to any page you like. I have mine set to open "chrome://apps/" which brings back the apps screen, rather than having to click on the new little button to see my apps.

    "my browsing habits" In other words, porn.

    I like the grid of most frequently visited sites. I wish they had made that more adjustable instead of squeezing it into a smaller space. I would love to have a way to remove a site from the list without banning it from reappearing if it returns to the top 8 - basically reduce its count to zero.
    But my biggest objection is that most of the page is now blank space, and most of the rest is a giant logo and an absolutely redundant search bar. Who uses Chrome and doesn't already search from the omnibar? In what way is smaller content / wasted real estate an improvement?

    I removed a site from my "most frequently visted" list, but would now like to get it back. How would I do this?

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