On the whole whenever new features are added to web browsers, they are often to make the browser more efficient, the browsing experience richer or more secure. A browser that needs twice as many clicks or takes twice as long to do something wouldn’t be too popular. This is the case when opening a new tab or a separate new window in today’s popular browsers. Most have tried to enhance a new tab and make things a bit easier for you.
All the major browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and even the newer Edge fill a new tab page with things like search bars, quick links, news stories, your most visited site history and even advertisements in some cases. This isn’t a problem and can be quite convenient for some users. But others prefer not to have things like sites you visit most often showing whenever a new tab is opened. That can be a privacy concern, especially if anyone else does or could use your browser.
Mozilla Firefox and Firefox Based Browsers
For a long time now Firefox has defaulted to a new tab page that includes a search bar and your most used top sites with optional suggested sites merged in. If you open a new window Firefox will use your default homepage.
Changing the new tab page to a blank page is quite easy. Click on the Customize cog icon in the top right of the new tab window. Then check the Show blank page option.
This blank page has a bit of a problem though because the customize button is still visible. That means anyone can go into the menu and turn the top sites option back on. For a true blank page you have to use an extension. The Blank New Tab extension is an obvious choice because it performs that one function and nothing else.
Something like New Tab Override pictured above offers a bit more and has the flexibility to create different new tab pages such as blank, the default Firefox home page (about:home), syncing tabs or opening a URL from the clipboard.
It’s worth noting that the Firefox based Waterfox has the same new tab page as Firefox itself. Cyberfox on the other hand, allows you to set an about:blank new tab page in the settings. Pale Moon actually defaults to opening an empty new tab with just the logo as the background. It’s not a true about:blank empty page but is certainly good enough.
Google Chrome and Chromium Based Browsers
The open source Chromium browser has led to the creation of dozens of other third party browsers, including Google Chrome. For some strange reason Chromium and therefore Chrome do not have an option to change the new tab behavior, even in the advanced settings.
That means you are left with a most visited sites and search bar window every time a new tab or new page is opened. Many browsers that are based on Chromium will have the same or a slightly modified new tab. These include Dragon, Chromodo, SRWare Iron, Slimjet, Yandex and Torch.
Through the use of extensions the blank new tab function can easily be added. Of course, there are many new tab extensions around that can do all kinds of things such as creating a speed dial or showing Google earth images on a new tab page. For a simple bank page you can use something like Blank New Tab or alternatively Empty New Tab Page – Black will give you a blank page with a black background.
The empty new tab extension will also create an empty tab when you open a new browser window (Ctrl+N). If you receive a popup message saying the new tab page has been changed by an extension, press the Keep changes button.
Opera is based on Chromium these days and is now Chinese owned. It has for a long time shown a speed dial button instead of a home button. The speed dial lists a number of favorites, a search bar and a news section and it appears when you click to open a new tab. Here’s how to replace the speed dial with an empty new tab.
1. Click the Opera menu and go to Settings or press Alt+P. Click the Browser section on the left, scroll to the bottom and check the Show advanced settings box.
2. Open a new speed dial window and click the Customize cog icon at the top right. Uncheck all the boxes in the window to remove the news, search box, speed dial buttons, side navigation buttons and optionally the theme. This will leave you with just the Customize button visible.
3. This last step is optional. Follow step 1 but uncheck the Show advanced settings box. The reason for enabling advanced options first is the speed dial and the search box options are only available when the advanced settings are active. Turning it off again means nobody can causally turn on the speed dial and search bar from the cog icon.
While this type of blank new tab should be enough for most users, those wanting a truly empty new tab need to use an Opera extension. The Custom New Tab Page extension will work, simply go to the extension options and enter about:blank as the url. Alternatively you can use anything in the Chrome Web Store by installing Download Chrome Extension first. Like many Chromium based browsers the new window option in Opera will display the same as the new tab.
Vivaldi is also Chromium based and the new major browser on the block. It’s developers come from the original Opera before it moved to Chromium. Vivaldi is designed to be as configurable as old Opera was so opening a new tab as an empty page should be easy.
Go to the Vivaldi menu > Tools > Settings or press Alt+P, click Tabs down the left and type about:blank into the New Tab Page box. Press Save and that’s it!
Opening a new window will also open the same blank page. There seems to be some sort of bug currently in Vivaldi where setting the new tab page as about:blank causes the browser to crash when opening a new window. Hopefully this will be fixed in the near future.
Unfortunately Edge cannot show a completely blank page when you click for a new tab. Microsoft’s definition of a blank page for Edge is different to everyone else’s because what they offer is not a page with nothing on it, but instead a page with a Bing search bar.
By default the Edge new tab page displays the Bing search bar, your most visited Top Sites and also a news feed for your region. To get it to show the minimum of just the search bar click to open a new tab and on the right hand side above your top sites click the cog wheel Customize button. In the page display settings select “A blank page” and click the Save button at the bottom.
The result is the search bar only page which is currently the best you can do. When there are more extensions available for Edge we might see one for a proper blank new tab like in other browsers.
When opening a new window in Edge it is the same page as when launching the browser. As a consequence the setting which controls the start page is also the same. Go to More > Settings, click on the “Open Microsoft Edge with” drop down and select “A specific page or pages“. In the URL box below the drop down type about:blank and click the Save icon.
You won’t need to do this if you already have your own custom start page. Also, the top sites history does not appear on the standard Edge start page so this step is not necessary if you only wanted to hide the history. It’s also possible to use the same search bar only blank page as new tabs by selecting New tab page instead of specific page or pages.
While Internet Explorer has been superseded by Edge in Windows 10, there’s still some things which Internet Explorer does better. The simple task of opening a new tab as a blank page is one tiny example. By default Internet Explorer 11’s new tab page is populated with a Bing search bar and a number of your most frequently visited sites. To get a blank page when opening a new IE tab:
1. Click on the Tools cog icon and select Internet Options. On the default General tab click the Tabs button about half way down.
2. Click on the drop down menu under “When a new tab is opened, open:” and select A blank page. Press OK to confirm the changes.
When opening a new window in Internet Explorer it will open the new window and populate it with the active tab from the current window. So if your active tab is blank pressing Ctrl+N will open with a blank tab, if it’s Google.com it will open with a Google.com tab and etc.