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How to Remove Shortcuts from Chrome New Tab Page?

Google Chrome is a powerful browser used as a marketing tool by Google. When you open the browser or open a new tab, by default it will show a page with the title as “New Tab”. This new tab page shows Google search box, links for many Google products like Gmail. It will also show a list of thumbnails or favicons of the websites you have recently viewed as shortcuts. These shortcuts or thumbnails history may look good option so that you can easily access the pages. However, it will be annoying in many situations like screen sharing or when showing your desktop to others. Anyone can clearly see those thumbnails which is a direct intrusion of your privacy. Here, we will explain how to remove shortcuts from Chrome new tab page in desktop browser. Unfortunately, there are no options available to remove the shortcuts in iOS and Android mobile apps.

Can I Remove Those Annoying Shortcuts?

The answer depends on the Chrome version you use.

  • If you have the latest Chrome version, you can turn off the shortcuts with a switch.
  • Google updated the Chrome browser on version 69. Now you will see the circular favicons of recently visited sites on new tab page instead of large rectangle thumbnails. Now that these are called shortcuts which you can remove at your wish and restore them at one click.
  • On version lower than 69 Chrome shows bigger rectangular thumbnails on the new tab pages. And there are no default settings to switch of the thumbnails history. Even complete deletion of history will still show empty thumbnail boxes. These boxes will again start showing website preview when you browse sites. But there are some indirect ways that you can use to delete these thumbnails.

Also check out how to remove thumbnails on Firefox Quantum, Mac Safari and iOS Safari to protect your privacy.

How to Remove Shortcuts from Chrome New Tab Page?

Let us discuss the following options and you may try the suitable one for you.

  1. Disable shortcuts on new tab page
  2. Deleting individual shortcuts
  3. Restoring deleted shortcuts
  4. Adding custom shortcuts
  5. Deleting complete history
  6. Changing the start up page settings
  7. Opening complete blank new tab page

First, we would recommend you to upgrade to the latest Chrome version so that you can easily remove the shortcuts appearing on the new tab page.

1. Remove Shortcuts in New Tab Page

If you are using Chrome version 114 or later, Google will show shortcuts either based on your own items or based on the sites you visit. You can choose what to show or completely disable all the shortcuts on the new tab page.

  • Open Chrome browser. If you have any other page as your home page, open a new tab.
  • Click on the “Customize Chrome” button showing on the lower right corner.
  • Scroll down and go to “Shortcuts” section from the sidebar.
  • For completely removing all shortcut icons from new tab page in Chrome, turn off “Show shortcuts” option. Otherwise, you can enable this and choose one of the other options if you want to continue with your shortcuts.
  • My shortcuts will show all the items you have added manually along with an “Add shortcut” icon. Most visited sites will show eight frequently visited pages from your browsing history.

2. Deleting Individual Shortcuts

Instead of completely disabling all shortcuts, you can also delete individual items from new tab page. Open Chrome and hover your mouse over the thumbnail preview image. You will see an “X” mark on the image with the description as “Remove”. Click on the “X” mark to delete the site thumbnail.

This will instantly delete the item and Chrome will add a new frequently visited item from your history to the list. Once you have removed the shortcut icon, it will not appear again. This will help you to remove only annoying thumbnail images from new tab pages. However, you need to delete the shortcuts one by one. We don’t see any option to delete multiple items in one click.

3. Restoring Deleted Shortcuts

After you delete a shortcut, Chrome will offer two options – undo and restore default shortcuts. Undo will only restore the last deleted shortcut while restoring will put back all the annoying favicons.

If you ignored the message and want to restore all shortcuts after some time for any reason, simply delete another shortcut. You will see the prompt again and select “Restore all” option to bring back all the history records on your new tab pages.

4. Adding Custom Website Shortcuts

If you have selected “My Shortcuts” option, Chrome will show a “Add shortcut” icon in new tab page. Click on the “Add shortcut” button to add your own custom shortcuts.

On the pop-up, enter website name, URL and click on “Done” button. This will add the favicon of the entered website on the home and new tab pages. This is an easy way to keep all your favorite websites on the new tab page and access them quickly.

5. Deleting Entire History

Press “Command + Shift + Delete” on Mac or “Control + Shift + Delete” in Windows. Select “Time range” as “All time” and click “Clear Data” button to delete all browsing history.

This will delete all thumbnails from the new tab page. Learn more about clearing browser history in different browsers. However, the thumbnails or favicons will start appearing when you start browsing websites and accumulating the history.

6. Changing Startup Settings

If you are still seeing empty thumbnail placeholders or “Add shortcut” button, then changing the startup page to a blank page will help to open a blank page when you launch the browser.

Go to the command URL “chrome://settings” and scroll down to “On startup” section. Choose the option “Open a specific page or set of pages” and click on “Add a new page. Enter “about:blank” as site URL and click on “Add” button.

The “On startup” section should look like below:

Close all open windows and reopen Chrome. It will show a blank page as a startup page. However, clicking on a new tab will again show the page with Google search and site’s thumbnails from history or add shortcut button.

Changing startup page is very useful in Windows where closing all open browser windows will close the browser. So, when you launch Chrome again, it will show a blank page as startup page. But this will not be much useful on Mac. Because closing all windows will not close the browser. It will be still running on the dock and launching again will open a new page tab with history thumbnails or add shortcut button.

7. Open Completely Blank New Tab Page

This is the last solution to remove all those annoying thumbnails or shortcuts from Google Chrome new tab page completely. But you need to install an extension from Chrome Web Store for that. Go to the Web Store and search for “empty page”. Use filter as “Extensions” to restrict the results to only extension.

There are lots of empty new tab page extensions available in Chrome Web Store. Click on the “Add to Chrome” button and install the “Empty New Tab Page” extension. You will see an empty page whenever you open a new tab or new window.

Remember the extension will also change the startup page as an empty page. But you can go to settings and change the startup page as per your need, if you want different or default startup page.

Final Thoughts

Modern browsers have lots of features for saving favorites, bookmarks, history to help users to quickly access websites. Almost all browsers show thumbnails on the home and new tab pages from history and favorites. Though this is useful, it also affects the privacy. In our opinion, the main purpose of the web browsers is to surf the internet and all other features should be optional with the ability to turn on or off. Fortunately, the latest Chrome version offers an option for removing the shortcuts completely from new tab page. Otherwise, you can use a third-party extensions to remove the thumbnails and keep a blank new tab page.