I mostly use Chrome browser on my PC for daily browsing. This is not to say that Firefox is doing anything wrong. It’s just a matter of preference. A few days back, I borrowed my friend’s laptop to check FIFA schedule and was pleasantly surprised.
While my Google homepage had a simple zen wallpaper in the background, he had tons of useful widgets with live data. The tiles were better organized, there was a live beach, weather reports, and even a to-do list! This led me to some research and here is what I found.
Flavr is a cool little extension that will change your Google’s homepage background with some amazing wallpapers. These images are sourced from Unsplash.
You can hide the bookmarks and recently visited sites list. All that will be left is the Google search bar with a beautiful background. But that is not all. You can also connect your Facebook account and use your profile images as background. You must have some amazing selfies to do this.
While images are a nice touch, Flavr leaves a lot to be desired. It lacks advanced features and doesn’t make good use of all that empty space.
2. Live Start Page
Live Start Page comes with an introduction that explains what you can do with this extension, which is a lot. On the lower left of the screen you will see some quick tips and shortcuts.
The live beach wallpaper will be installed by default, the one I talked about earlier. On the lower left of your new tab’s screen, you can create your to-do list with tasks.
There are hundreds of live and static wallpapers to browse and download from. If you want the live wallpaper to stop moving, there is a handy Pause button.
Clicking on the Configure Settings button opened a new tab where there were more options than I was expecting. Everything from the size of the clock to the opacity of the widgets can be controlled here.
On the upper right, you will find a weather widget with a sidebar to create groups for bookmarks. The sidebar reveals itself when you double-click.
Pro version, for $1.99/m, adds even more features like Google Calendar sync (future update), seconds needle in clock, multiple weather widgets and so on.
An interesting feature is the meditation mode that removes all distractions from the screen, and plays ambient music in the background to help you relax. It also comes with recorded sessions by pros but I didn’t tried it. I am happy with Headspace.
3. Infinity New Tab
Where Live Start Page is heavy and may slow down your new tab, Infinity New Tab is light yet rich in features. Taking a minimalist approach, this nifty Chrome extension will add a static wallpaper to reduce tab load time.
There are 10 shortcuts on the home page but you can add more. When you click on the weather icon, the right sidebar will pop up offering weather details. Similarly, when you click the to-do or notes icon, the right sidebar of your Chrome’s homepage will pop up to reveal more options.
You can control the number of icons in the grid, how they look and feel, take quick notes, and search multiple search engines from within the tab.
The extension is light at 1MB, compared to 35MB of Live Start Page, and offers Gmail notifications count right inside the tab! It is less cluttered which makes it even more useful.
Momentum is a polite Chrome extension. It will ask your name the first time you install it before making any changes. Then it will ask your email ID so everything remains in sync.
Momentum makes things very very simple. You will get a new, serenely beautiful wallpaper everyday with a quote to inspire you. There is a weather widget on the upper right of your Google homepage.
To help you stay productive, and focused, Momentum will ask you to enter a single task at the bottom of the screen. One thing that you must get done today. This strategy really works because aren’t we all guilty of trying to accomplish too much?
If you do want to accomplish more, there is a to-do list option on the lower right of the tab. It is free from all the additional features that we covered earlier but that is good in its own way.
5. Speed Dial (FVD)
Speed Dial, as the name suggests, is all about speed. A very popular Google Chrome homepage extension that will present all your shortcut icons in 3D.
A beautiful way to customize your most frequently visited sites. Each icon is called a dial which you can give a custom URL and a name. As I was moving my mouse around, the wallpaper in the background was also moving, creating a nice 3D effect.
Speed Dial was developed to do one thing and one thing alone: help you access your favorite sites quickly.
6. Start – A Better New Page
Want to stay updated with feeds? Where Flavr was too minimalist, Start offers a way to get updates from social media sites like Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram using RSS feeds in a single tab. You can easily drag and drop widgets around to suit your priorities.
It also works with Google Calendar which was a real plus for me because I use it heavily. To take things a notch higher, you can also see Uber wait time, daily Spotify tracks, and it comes with a handy screenshot tool. While I don’t think Uber wait time will come in handy (I prefer the app), screenshot tool with marker was a good thought.
Apart from this, all the other features we discussed earlier like notes, to-do lists, and weather forecasts are there.
Customize Your Workspace
Most of us are turning into zombies, spending most of our days (and nights) glued to the screen. You really can’t use the Internet without a browser. Why not make the most of it?
Next up: Is your Chrome browser opening old tabs when you fire it up? Here is a short but useful guide to fix it.
Last updated on 03 February, 2022
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