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How to create your own new tab extensions for Google Chrome

Creating Chrome extensions usually requires some programming ability, but Google has launched a tool that gives anyone this power, no coding required. It’s called Tab Maker, and it focuses on the New Tab page in Chrome: the screen that loads up when you open a new tab.

By default, that page shows a Google search box and shortcuts to some of your most frequently visited online destinations, but you don’t have to settle for the default. Using Tab Maker, you can make something specifically for your needs, and brighten up your browsing experience at the same time.

Load up Tab Maker in your browser and click Gallery to get a bit of initial inspiration. You’ll see some of the customization possibilities: Photos of space and pictures of cats and dogs are perfect examples of what Tab Maker can do, but it can display images of just about anything.

The next screen will create a Google Sheet spreadsheet: Click Try With Example Content to have Google fill out the page for you (you can easily change out the example content), or Add Your Own Content to start with a blank slate. In either case, the spreadsheet will open in a new browser tab and comes with instructions for how to fill it (keep the Tab Maker tool open in the background).

Fill in image links, web links, and text as directed—you’ll get a reminder of your chosen template layout at the top. You can also add as many rows to the spreadsheet as you like, and each time you open a new tab, Google will pick one of the rows at random: So if you put a different photo in each row, for example, you’ll see a different one whenever you open a new tab.

You’ll then need to choose File and Publish to the web to make your spreadsheet public, where Google can see it. Make sure the Step 2 sheet is highlighted (the one with your content), and the file published is formatted as Comma-separated values (all these instructions are included in the spreadsheet itself). You’ll be given a URL, which you’ll then need to paste back into the Tab Maker.

You’re then on to the final stage, which lets you give your new tab extension a name and an icon for when it’s displayed on the Chrome Web Store. Download your finished ZIP file when prompted, and it’ll be ready to use: You can either install it privately or make it available for anyone to access.

To use it privately, visit “chrome://extensions” in your browser and turn on the Developer mode toggle switch. Click Load unpacked and you’ll be able to select the extension file you’ve created—it should appear whenever you open a new tab page.

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