Replace Google Chrome’s Default New Tab Page With The Visually Pleasing Incredible StartPage

chrome new tab start pageStartpages are productivity tools meant to give you quick one-touch access to your favorite websites and information. Startpages are also personalized gateways and as such we tend to be quite picky when we go hunting for one. Usually the choice boils down to the degree of personalization (for instance, tie-ins with other web services) and looks. Thankfully, the choices are many and varied.  Along with biggies like My Yahoo and iGoogle, you have Pageflakes and Netvibes as preferred ones. But smaller players are also inching in.
So, if Google Chrome is your favorite browser, give the Google Chrome Incredible StartPage featured extension a try. Startpages ideally need to be uncluttered, but none of us would mind a touch of visual chutzpah thrown in. Incredible StartPage is not as full featured as the well-known names of its tribe because it is designed to replace Chrome’s default ‘New Tab’ page. But as we will see, there’s a fair bit more…

The Visual Theme

chrome new tab start page
The Chrome Web Store has quite a few startpage extensions but Incredible StartPage seems to be one of the popular ones with a good installed user base. One reason can be attributed to its easy-on-the-eye looks. Incredible StartPage has a theme based interface which is customizable to a fair degree. It uses Flickr API to grab images and display it as wallpaper and it gives you a few categories to choose from. Pick from clouds, sunset, nature, star, or go for a custom image from an URL. Click on the arrows to move ahead or back for more photos. Background and font color can also be tweaked.

It’s Not Only about Looks

As you are familiar with, this is how a default ‘new tab’ looks like:
tab start page
Incredible StartPage gives it a facelift by turning it into the one you can see in the first screenshot.
The startpage is divided into three main panels:
The biggest panel is for displaying your bookmarks and apps against the backdrop of a Flickr image. You can click on Advanced Options and set it up to show it all in three columns.
tab start page
The first frame on the left (Closed) displays all your recently closed tabs. You can go into Advanced Options and set a number for the maximum items you want displayed. A way to get into the browsing history would have been helpful here, but that’s absent. Clear it all with a click on the Clear button. The one quirk is that though this panel displays a previously opened Extensions tab, it won’t let you open it from here.
tab start page
The frame that holds your bookmarks is where you probably will click most often. Of course, you can make your browsing more efficient by dragging and dropping some of the more frequently used ones to the Flickr image adorned My Bookmarks panel on the right (as shown by the hand icon in the screenshot below). This way you can keep the ones with which you start the day close by for one-click access. In fact, you can choose any folder and set it to be displayed as the main one on the bigger My Bookmarks panel.
new tab start page
Probably, the feature which puts an extra notch on this startpage as a productivity enhancer is the Notes feature. Scribble anything on the yellow Post-It style note and it stays there across your browsing sessions and even if you clear your cache. Quite handily, you can post your notes to your Gmail and Google Calendar accounts.
chrome new tab start page
That sounds like a nifty way of setting up quick tasks and reminders. I also use it to share links with friends as clicking on Post to Gmail opens up a new tab with the note pasted into the main letter body.
Incredible StartPage consumes a bit of memory (around 15K), but that’s not much when you trade it off against the beautiful facelift and the productivity. What’s your take?