You wake up. You groggily pull up your laptop or sit in front of your desktop with your delicious coffee nearby. Once your system loads, you load up Google Chrome, and you think how nice it will feel to get rid of all of those open tabs someday. You open a new tab anyway and start your morning content ritual.
While we can solve your tab compulsions, and even your tiredness, I think it’s important to bring a little Kondo-like joy to an underserved part of your morning ritual: your browser’s new tab window.
Think about it. You probably stare at that ugly, search-box-filled screen more than any other website, since it’s the very first thing you see when you’re trying to navigate anywhere else. Nothing against Chrome’s search box, nor its quick list of sites you frequent, but you can do better. Here are a few of our favorite “new tab” extensions:
We’ve talked about Toby before, and it’s still a great way to organize all of those ugly, open tabs into a single screen’s worth of content. Better yet, you can synchronize this new tab page across all of your browser instances—if you sign into Toby’s service, that is.
This extension’s premise is simple: You can daydream about new locations to visit without ever leaving your desk. And even if you have no intention of traveling to some faraway island or snowy landscape—all possibilities, pulled from Google Earth and slapped directly on your “new tab” page—you’ll be able to download any favorites that pop up for repeated viewing. Or, just trust that fate (in the form of a new random image each time you load a new tab) will bring you together again.
If you’d rather have new artwork to stare at than gorgeous locations, Google’s Arts & Culture extension is like a museum pass for your browser. Same deal as Earth View from Google Earth: You get one new painting each time you open up a browser tab, though you can also set the extension to a “daily” update if you’d like more time to appreciate a work.
This one’s easy. Your “new tab” page transforms into a giant notepad when you install the New Tab Draft extension. Anything you type will be saved between browser sessions—locally, however, which is great for privacy, but not so great if you’re frequently jumping between desktops and laptops. Still, it beats having to open a separate app to write down your thoughts.
If you’re in a place where you need to memorize a bunch of facts and figures—you’re a student, an actor, or you’re trying to brush up on your Star Wars lore—then FlashTabs is a great way to quiz yourself. Open a new tab; get a new flashcard. You can even rate particular flashcards based on their difficulty, if you know you need to see certain ones that you keep missing more often than others.
Similar to the New Tab Draft extension, Markdown New Tab lets you take and save notes whenever you open up a new tab. And that which you write also persists through browser sessions. Unlike New Tab Draft, Markdown New Tab—as you can probably guess—allows you to format your thoughts using the ever-useful Markdown syntax, which is absolutely worth teaching to yourself. (You could even leave notes on Markdown syntax in Markdown New Tab, if you really want to get meta.)
Another Lifehacker favorite, the Momentum extension transforms your boring ol’ “new tab” page into a big hodgepodge of information and inspiration. It’s not cluttered, especially since you can turn the different parts of its experience on and off at will. This includes: a button for unrolling dedicated links, your bookmarks bar (in case you don’t want it in your default browser window), a search box, your local weather, a way to input what you’re focusing on today, an inspirational quote, and a to-do list. You even get a lovely new photo to look at each day, too.
As an alternative, you can also try checking out Leoh New Tab, which adopts the same approach, but with a slightly different style (and widgets).
You get a new feline friend in every tab you open—and you can even find some rare ones, too! Tabby Cat is one of the greatest “new tab” extensions ever. End of story. (You can also purchase other cute animals, like dogs, birds, and bears, for a mere $1 each, in case your pet loyalties lie elsewhere).
Nobody likes advertising, I get it. Install the Tab for a Cause extension, and you’ll get a Momentum-like page with some widgets, the time, and a lovely photo to look at. You’ll also get some banner advertisements, but these aren’t lining the pocket of some enterprising extension developer somewhere. Instead, the proceeds go to a charity that you get to pick. Every little bit helps!
This one’s simple, but maybe that’s all you need. With the Speed Dial 2 extension, you drop big, fat buttons representing your favorite websites on your “new tab” page. If you have a handful of sites you check on a regular basis, this will at least save you a little time from having to type them into Chrome’s address bar—or clicking on a bookmark in your toolbar.
If you want to get fancy, you can also use a sidebar to show recently closed tabs, applications, and your bookmarks. Your applications can also live on a special bottom bar, for easier access.
Open a new tab, get a new, free photo from Unsplash to star at. Open another tab, get another photo. That’s Unsplash Instant—a simple, clean, and artful Chrome extension that adds life to your “new tab” page without any extra clutter to get in the way.
If you’re a developer—or power user—you might want to check out Initab. This extension supercharges your “new tab” page with data, including popular posts from your favorite subreddits, github issues and pull requests, and recent Stack Overflow history, to name a few items. I especially like the “relevant history” section, which shows you only snippets from your browser history that match particular keywords.
This one’s quirky, but fun. You and your colleagues should all sign up for Sametab using your company email addresses. And when you do, you’ll all then see the same “new tab” page in each instance—a great way to send out announcements or provide helpful resources for everyone at work.
If you only care about the time and/or the weather, Currently is here to fill that need. This browser extension drops those two useful pieces of information—and only that—into every new tab you open. It’s a simple implementation, but it looks great.
You nihilist, you. Blank New Tab Page does just that: It gives you absolutely nothing to look at. No search box. No list of websites. No time. No pretty photo. Nothing. Sometimes, we all need a little peace and quiet.