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Customize Chrome’s new tab screen

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The default Chrome browser’s new tab has apps and most visited web pages which is bought into view by sliding the page. This isn’t customizable at all. The good news is, extension developers have made some really slick and useful page that replaces the new tab. The new tab has been customized to look like Windows 8 metro UI, as a bookmark speed dial and a feed reader. Read on to find and choose what you want your new tab to look like,

1> Bookmark speed dial, New tab

If you want to have a bookmark speed dial that spans across two pages, there’s an extension for that. Lightning newtab is an extension that brings this feature on your Chrome new tab.

lightning newtab

That’s how the Lightning newtab looks like. It also has a weather widget but limited to locations in the US. This might turn off a lot.

You can add websites to speed dial, clicking the the arrow mark on the right side or scroll the mouse middle button. It would slide through an another page before bringing up the view from which you can add a bookmark to the speed dial. It is also from that view you can easily check the existing extensions, enable/disable or remove them if needed be. To add a bookmark, click the (+) button, and click ‘manually’ to open a window that looks like the image below.

lightning newtab add bookmark

The buttons you see in the bottom on the quick bar, lets you do some customization like adding wallpaper that is on the cloud, change the settings, access extensions, show recent pages visited and bookmarks. You can slide through wall papers by clicking on the next button on the bottom right of the screen, right next to the heart icon.

Another extension for bookmarks is ‘New tab feeder’. I didn’t link to its page because it links to Onefeed which is a feed reader (social and RSS) and bookmarks speed dial.

2> Bookmark speed dial and a Feed Reader on New tab

Onefeed is a feed reader as well as a bookmark speed dial for chrome, and it opens up on the new tab. ‘New tab feeder’ prompting to install just this. Let’s take a look at Onefeed.

After you install it, the first screen you see is the social integration. Click on social buttons, to add it to your social feed. I added Facebook, You can choose the ones you like, from these 4 choices – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google plus. Click the X button on the top-left of the screen, to exit the help overlay which comes right after the social integration setup. It then opens up a page that will look like the image below,

onefeed chrome new tab

On the top you have the search bar. As you begin typing in it, it shows the matching ones from your Facebook and other social network you have connected. Click search if none of those suggestion helps, it will take you to the Google search page for that search.

Next is the most visited pages that appear on the speed dial. You can click the (+) button to add bookmarks there. To remove any item, drag it, you will see a red (X) button, drag it over that to delete. These items are called dial.

When you click the (+) button, you can add items from the bookmarks shown or add a new one, by adding the URL of the bookmark of your choice. You can as well as add Chrome apps, or files from Google drive or Dropbox.

On the bottom is news feeds. It has feeds of well known blogs. You can choose what to have and what not by clicking on the Onefeed logo on the top-left, and choose Edit news. From there you can add a feed URL or choose from the existing feeds. You can as well as, remove any news you don’t want. Just click the (x) button.

You can access the News reader, by clicking on either right or left arrow at the center right or left side of the screen.

onefeed feed reader

Your selected news feeds appear here (image above). You can also access the Edit news by clicking on the gear icon, on the left bottom, under the news categories section.

onefeed add news

The arrow on the right bottom is to slide through different backgrounds. When you add Instagram, it slides through the image from there.

That’s it, there you have a bookmark speed dial and news reader as your Chrome’s new tab.

3> Windows 8 Metro UI New tab

new metro tab with weather information

This extension, turns your new tab into a Windows 8 metro UI like screen. It has a weather widget that has all the countries weather feed. The items on the tiles can be a bookmark or a news feed. You can play around the tiles dragging and moving around. I have already written about this extension, New metro tab, here.

4> Google Now New Tab

google now new tab page chrome

This extension adds a Google Search box, voice search, weather, news, and more to your new tab page. But it pays little attention to the bookmarks on its small speed dial. But it has a voice search, detailed weather and news. For those that likes Google Now, this extension, New tab page, is worth giving a try.

In closing,

Though there are a handful of these extensions, you can only have one at a time as your new tab. I love all of them but to choose one I’ll go with the New metro Tab. Because Lightning new tab lacks other countries feeds in its weather widget. Onefeed’s feed reader can’t be used for day-to-day feed reading, as it isn’t a full blown feed reader. Google now new tab, places less emphasis on the bookmarks. New metro Tab does it for me, giving me the Windows 8 Metro UI look which I don’t always go to, on my Windows 8. So this one offsets that for me. What I dislike is that Lightning tab and Onefeed comes pre-packed with lots of Items that I don’t need.

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