Annoying Chrome Thumbnails

I don’t like the way Google Chrome’s new tab page displays the eight most visited sites as a 4×2 grid of thumbnail images. They’re not small; my laptop screen renders each about an inch wide, sharing the websites I visit most often with anyone over my shoulder, every time I open a new browser window. A little privacy would be nice, as I use my computer for work and home. Mostly it troubles me, though, because one of the pages is the New York Times, which Chrome screen grabbed on a day when a serial murderer was featured prominently. Now his very-recognizable face smiles at me every time I open a new tab.

Shoulder surfers ❤ Google Chrome thumbnails ... but Totoro doesn't.

Shoulder surfers ❤ Google Chrome thumbnails, but Totoro isn’t a big fan.

Problem is, there’s no easy way to prevent Chrome from automatically displaying thumbnails of the most often visited sites on the new tab page. You can click a barely-visible X in the upper right of each thumbnail to keep it from appearing (psychopath vanquished) but Google just replaces it with the next most-often visited site. Not to mention, to the degree that this forced feature is useful, now one of my sites simply won’t appear on the new page, as opposed to having Chrome take a new screengrab. (Though with the vivid imagery of devastation in Gaza, I don’t know that a recent clip would be any less unsettling.)

Apparently, you used to be able to perform a bit of back alley brain surgery on Chrome, disabling the Instant Extended API in chrome://flags. If you visit that page (Chrome only) Google posts a huge warning against modifying the browser’s settings in this way, but it’s moot at this point because they’ve removed the ability to switch this feature off using flags.

There is a Chrome extension called Empty New Tab Page. Easy enough: you install it and get a blank page white as Montana snow every time you open a new tab.

Montana snow, GlacierNPS, Flickr CC license, 2011-05-04.

Montana snow (right). Flickr CC license, GlacierNPS, 2011-05-04.


For me it’s a bit overkill, though; I like the way I’ve otherwise set up Chrome new tab page, and I kind of miss my theme. I’m hoping that some future Google Chrome update gives a bit more nuanced control over this feature. Until then, I might consider switching to Firefox, but it really does seem slower than Chrome. IE’s lost me forever. I haven’t tried Opera recently … maybe that’s worth a look.

Anyone out there have a clean fix? A fresh perspective? Tasty spam? You know where to find me.

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