Are you tired of looking at Chrome’s boring first page every time you open a new tab?
If so, you’re in luck, because there are probably thousands of extensions available in the Chrome store now to spice up your browser.
You might not have time to wade through them all in search of the perfect first page, so here are a few exciting personalized dashboards that are useful, beautiful and suit many different needs.
Some are more about aesthetics, some have all the tools to help boost your efficiency and productivity, and some combine it all. Try a few and see what fits you best.
This one is probably my overall favorite new tab for inspiration and organization. It combines aesthetics with functionality.
The design is fairly sparse, allowing you to fully enjoy a wide selection of beautiful, high-definition background wallpapers, mostly nature images from around the world.
One special perk with Limestone is the moving wallpapers, like a waterfall with flowing water or a puppy that blinks and wiggles his ears at you.
In general, the backgrounds are creative and uplifting, really great for bringing some moments of calm and inspiration into any busy workday.
It also shows you a new motivational quote every day.
Limestone is similar to Momentum, an older app that’s already very popular. There are a few reasons why I prefer Limestone.
First, I find the images more interesting and artistic in Limestone.
Limestone is also more customizable. It includes a bunch of features for you to fiddle with, including:
- Search bar that you can set for all the major search engines plus YouTube, Amazon, eBay and several other sites
- Personal greeting
- Top links
- To-do list
- Local time and weather
- Optional Gmail notifications (these will appear on the top-right corner of your screen even if you’re not on Chrome)
iChrome is a solid all-rounder first page extension. Its main selling point is as an alternative to the now-defunct iGoogle. It’s probably the most similar to the look and functions of iGoogle.
It’s fast, efficient and highly customizable. The free version comes with seven widgets: Google search, Chrome apps, local traffic and weather reports, most-visited tabs, Wolfram Alpha search and news.
iChrome has a few drawbacks, namely that you have to pay for the most interesting features. (There are more than 50 widgets to choose from in the paid version.)
It also requires a bit of setup. You have to move the link by hand and set it as your default browser. Not a big deal but most new tab extensions do this automatically.
Personally, I don’t love the look of iChrome – too many boxes with barely any background image to speak of – but if you’re more interested in just staying on track and getting where you need to go, it can really work for you.
I love this one. Earth View turns your new tab into a satellite picture, taken randomly from Google Earth’s collection of the most striking and beautiful images of our planet.
The images are really gorgeous. The app allows you to download and share your favorites, and to look through Google Earth’s full collection.
It’s not a first page for the practically minded, since it doesn’t really have any widgets or useful features to mention. (There is a button to show links to the basic Chrome apps.)
However, for sheer beauty and simplicity, Earth View wins hands down.
For all you social media nuts, skip straight to OneFeed. It gives you all your social media and content in one place: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a personal news feed.
You can switch through different modes to access different categories of news and social platforms, or get some of everything in one place with the default dashboard. It also has a notification center for you to stay updated on all your emails and messaging.
On the downside, it’s not much to look at (just a bunch of boxes). It doesn’t support Feedly, which many people who would go for something like OneFeed would appreciate.
Some users also report a few bugs and issues with functionality.
Zen Tab is another great first page for those who love simple elegance and minimalist aesthetics.
Most of the page on Zen Tab is beautiful, quiet images. (The landscapes are synched with local weather in your area, which is a nice touch.) All the widgets are neatly arranged in a shaded bar on the right of the screen.
I really enjoy looking at Zen Tab. It’s like taking a good, deep breath before diving back into activity.
It has all the basic features you’re probably looking for: date and time, favorite links, quick access to bookmarks and a few others, plus a notepad.
Another sweet feature is the option of a falling rain sound whenever the new tab is open.
If most first page dashboards look like they were developed by graphic designers in Chelsea, Juicy Drops looks like it came straight from Bushwick.
For non-New Yorkers: it’s artistic, playful, and hipster chic.
It shows backgrounds of trendy urban art, or any Instagram feed or tag of your choice.
Features are minimal – just a Google search bar and the time – but it definitely adds freshness and a splash of color to your browser.
There’s one simple fact about productivity that most of us know but ignore: concentrating on a few tasks will always get more done than scattering your attention across everything on your to-do list.
Dayboard is built around this. It encourages you to focus on five tasks at most, which you enter into the app every morning.
Whenever you open a new tab, Dayboard reminds you of these tasks. (You can also put it in “focus mode” to see only one task at a time.)
Even without this, just taking a few minutes at the beginning of your day to check your priorities is a great way to stay with what really matters and not get overwhelmed.
Dayboard gets serious about productivity with its bonus function as a website blocker. If Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or whatever are sucking you in, Dayboard will block distracting sites on your computer while you’re trying to work.
It also has some neat features like task history and archive, synching with different devices and connecting with your team members.
For people who are serious about getting things done, Dayboard is a great support.