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. But it will be annoying in many situations like screen sharing or showing your desktop to others. Anyone can clearly see those thumbnails which is a direct intrusion in your privacy. Here, we will explain how to remove shortcuts from Chrome new tab page.

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.
Google Chrome Version 69
  • 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.
Google Chrome Thumbnails History on New Tab Page

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 (on version 78 or later)
  2. Deleting favicon shortcuts (on version 69 or higher)
  3. Restoring deleted shortcuts (on version 69 or higher)
  4. Adding custom shortcuts (on version 69 or higher)
  5. Deleting single thumbnail (on version 68 or lower)
  6. Deleting complete history (All versions)
  7. Changing the start up page settings (All versions)
  8. Opening complete blank new tab page (All versions)

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. Disable Shortcuts on New Tab Page (Version 78+)

If you are using Chrome version 78 or later, Google will show shortcuts either from your history 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” button on the lower right corner.
  • Click “Shortcuts” from the sidebar.
  • You will see two options – shortcuts from your history and shortcuts from the most visited site. Choose the one you want to show if you want to continue with your shortcuts.
  • If you want to remove the shortcuts, then enable “Hide shortcuts” switch to completely remove all shortcuts from the new tab page.
Disable Shortcuts in New Tab Page

2. Deleting Favicon Shortcuts (Version 69+)

Instead of completely disabling the shortcuts, you can delete also them from your new tab page. Launch Google Chrome and hover your mouse over one of the shortcut favicon image. Click on the three dots button called “Edit Shortcut”.

Edit Shortcut on Chrome New Tab Page

On the popup that appears, click “Remove” button to delete the shortcut icon from the new tab page.

Remove Shortcuts from Chrome New Tab Page

Once you have removed the shortcut icon, it will not appear again. This will help you to remove those annoying favicon images from the new tab pages. However, you need to delete the shortcuts one by one. We don’t see any option to delete all the shortcuts in one click.

3. Restoring Deleted Shortcuts (Version 69+)

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.

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Undo Delete or Restore Shortcuts

You can also restore all the shortcuts by clicking on gear icon shown on the lower right corner of the browser. Choose “Restore default shortcuts” to bring back all the history records on your new tab pages.

Restore All Favicons Shortcuts

4. Adding Custom Website Shortcuts (Version 69+)

You have an additional option to add your own custom shortcuts to new tab pages. Click on the “Add shortcut” button on home or new tab page.

Adding Shortcuts in Chrome New Tab Page

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 to access them quickly.

Add Website Shortcut in Chrome New Tab Page

5. Deleting Single Thumbnail (Version 68 or Lower)

Open Chrome and hover your mouse over the thumbnail preview image. You will see an “X” mark on the image with the description as “Don’t show on this page”. Click on the “X” mark to delete the site thumbnail.

Delete Thumbnail on Chrome New Tab Page

Remember, deleting thumbnail will remove the history of the site from the browser.

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6. Deleting Entire History [All Versions]

Press “Command + Shift + Delete” on Mac or “Control + Shift + Delete” in Windows. Delete all browsing history.

Clear Browsing Data in Chrome

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.

7. Changing Startup Settings (All Versions)

In both of the above methods, there will be still empty thumbnail placeholders shown on new tab page of Chrome version 68 or lower.

Chrome Showing Empty Thumbnails on New Tab Page

On version 69 or higher, you will still see a “Add shortcut” button. Though you can’t remove this on new tab page, 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.

Add Blank Page as Startup URL in Chrome

The “On startup” section should look like below:

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Adding Blank Startup Page in Chrome

Close all open windows and reopen Chrome. It will show a blank page as a startup page. But 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 in which 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.

8. Open Completely Blank New Tab Page (All Versions)

This is a proper 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 store and search for “empty page”. Use filter as “Extensions” to restrict the results to only extension.

Chrome Blank New Tab Extensions

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.

Chrome Blank New Tab Page Using Extension

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.

Extension Change Startup Page

Final Thought

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 Chrome version 69 or higher offers limited freedom of removing the shortcuts one by one.

Unfortunately Chrome version 68 or lower does not allow this while other browsers do. Using third party extensions should help to remove the thumbnails from Chrome new tab page completely. But we strongly believe there should be an option provided for users to enable or disable this feature entirely using default browser’s settings.

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