Chrome’s New Tab page — that screen that shows up every time you open a new tab in the browser — is one of the most wasted spaces in modern computing. I mean, think about it: All that’s there is a giant Google logo, a redundant (and fake) search box, and a collection of links to websites you’ve recently visited. For something you see dozens of times a day, that’s a major missed opportunity. But it doesn’t have to be.

I found some of the most practical and pleasant New Tab page enhancements around — easy-to-implement tools that let you create your own custom home screens for your browser. They all take approximately 20 seconds to set up, and they’ll all save you countless time as you make your way around the web.

Two of my personal favorites, which represent opposite ends of the simple-to-feature-filled spectrum:

  • Papier, or what I call the “on-demand private scratch pad.” This is what I use myself, and man, is it awesome. Every time I open a new Chrome tab on my computer, I get a blank screen waiting for my thoughts, ideas, notes, outlines, or whatever. The info is stored only locally, so anything I put in there remains present on my one computer (even after a restart) and pops up with every new tab I open. But it never leaves my computer or syncs anywhere; it’s just a short-term dumping ground for whatever nonsense is spilling out of my head.
  • iChrome, or the “widget-filled wonderland.” This actually makes your desktop browser’s default screen act like an Android home screen of sorts: You add in any number of widgets you want — anything from a weather widget to a scrollable box with a live, functioning view of your Calendar agenda, your Keep notes, or your Drive files — then add in a background you like (even a “live wallpaper,” if you’re really feeling fancy). Suffice it to say, this has the potential to be pretty darn handy.

Check those out and see if either of ’em feels right for you — or click over to my full collection to see all of my standout selections in action.

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