Three Ways To Tame Chrome’s Start Page

speed_dial

For those wanting to customize that start page, the ways to do it through Chrome’s internals are bizarre and, in some cases, complex. The way the start page works has changed over the last couple years and searching for help frequently lead to outdated solutions that no longer work.

It was a problem looking for an app to fix and clever developers responded with some tools that make Chrome’s start page a customizable wonder and tear down the limitations on how the start page is setup.

Speed Dial

Speed Dial, pictured above, lets you configure the number of shortcut panels and includes many site logo panels. It’s simple, attractive and very useful. You can customize the number and size of the panels and set your own background. Speed Dial adds a speed link to your address bar which you can later disable when your panel page is set to your liking.

My only dings on Speed Dial are there could be more site logos and every so often some site panels will go blank for no apparent reason. Aside from those two minor dings it’s a big improvement over the stock start page. Note that Speed Dial 2 is a similar application by a different author, not the second generation of Speed Dial. Really, I like them both so you can’t really go wrong if you select the other one.

Incredible Startpage

incredible_Start

A Google featured extension Incredible Startpage rearranges the start page to include both side shortcuts and other types of bookmarks and task panels. The big bonus to Incredible Startpage is being able to put your apps on the same page as your shortcuts. Something that seems odd Google couldn’t figure out for themselves.

Start!

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Start! is a highly rated bookmarks and app aggregator for your Chrome start page. Has a convenient Ctrl + R refresh shortcut for the days you’re burning up the net. This is another app that puts bookmarks and apps on the same page. Still a mystery that Google didn’t come up with that on their own, but that’s what keeps developers in business, right?

These three apps will make your Chrome start page a joy to use and take a good idea and make it even better.

5 Great Replacements For iGoogle

Users of iGoogle got some sad news when Google announced the application was going to be discontinued by November 2013. Before she jumped ship to take the CEO position at Yahoo!, Marrisa Mayer, then VP of Search Products at Google, described iGoogle gadgets as “unique form of advertising.”

Perhaps approaching it as a form of advertising rather than focusing on the user experience is what lead Google to eventually figure out they could get by without iGoogle.

Also, Google has been working to move app and widget customization into Chrome itself and many people find the tools available for their browser to be all the customization they really need. The extra effort to maintain iGoogle as a separate entity just wasn’t worth the expense.

For those who like the ability to create a custom landing page, there are several worthy replacements to meet your need for custom news feeds and widget love. (Click on any of the thumbnails below for a larger screenshot).

NetVibes

We previously covered NetVibes in more detail here. The interface is clean and easy to use, the function is solid and logical and it includes custom themes and color schemes.

 

 

ProtoPage

ProtoPage also offers a choice of a wide variety of site widgets, color schemes and custom themes, with the added benefit of having an interface that’s friendly to mobile devices. Another feature I really like is the tabs feature that lets you keep your bookmarks and notes on separate tabs of the same page and add your own custom tabs.

 

MyFav.es

MyFav.es is like a more customizable version of Chrome’s Most Visited feature, except it’s easier to pick which sites to put on the page and how to arrange them. The biggest advantage of MyFav.es is it looks really good on small screens. The big, blocky buttons might seem a little child-like in a browser window, but it’s awesome on a mobile device.

 

Nextaris

One stop shopping for tracking news, notes, capturing web content and sharing files. A bit of work on the front end to get everything set up and working but an interesting set of tools once you get there.

 

 

uStart

Another amazingly customizable start page that compares very favorably to NetVibes. If uStart would add some mechanisms for sharing files and content, this would be one of my favorites. Biggest mistake people make is putting .com at the end of the name. If you want the custom start page site it’s uStart.org.