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Let’s get our chrome browser ready for the ball

This is the next guide following on from the one about creating a Google account.

So far, with it’s plain white background, our browser looks pretty bland, but there’s something we can do to enhance it. Either with a colour, or an image, and then a few shortcuts to our favourite websites. Here’s a look at what I mean:

Before customization
Chrome browser before customization
After customization
Chrome browser after customization

While Google does provide some images, they may not be what you want. I downloaded the image in the second shot from Pixabay, a great source of free to use images.

If you’re still on your account page, open another tab by clicking the + sign at the top. Now you’ll see what I mean.

In the bottom right you’ll see the option to Customize Chrome. Clicking this will open the popup shown below. In the left sidebar you have three options.

  • Background: Presents you with a choice of images to use. Selecting the first option allows you to upload your own
  • Shortcuts: Gives you the option to add shortcuts to the centre of the page, with the choice of adding them yourself, or let Google curate them from a list of sites you frequent
  • Color and theme: Gives you a choice of colours to set as your background. The first option allows you to set a custom colour

Note: in the future, once you’ve customized your browser, all you’ll see is a pencil icon. Clicking that will have the same effect.

The first and third options, Background and Color and theme respectively, concern the entire browser background. The second, Shortcuts applies to the links that appear nearer the center.

Adding shortcuts to your Chrome browser

While we can add links to our favourite sites to the browser toolbar, we can make them, or ten of them, more easily identifiable and accessible from the homepage itself.

With the Customize Chrome pop out open, select shortcuts, and see we have two options: My shortcuts and Most visited sites.

There’s also an option to turn them off altogether, but I find them extremely convenient, and so leave that option turned off.

Letting Google choose your shortcuts

Selecting Most visited sites leaves everything up to Google. They add the shortcuts automatically. As I show later: you can delete one or more of these and allow Google to update them depending on which sites frequent.

If it’s a new account, once you open a browser, you’ll see that Google has added one already. If you hover over it, you see the option to delete it. Note there is no option to add more.

As Google doesn’t always get it right, I'm not particularly fond of this method and so prefer to add them myself.

How to add and remove Chrome shortcuts yourself

Selecting the option in the dropdown allows you to add your own. Do this and notice the option to Add shortcut when opening a browser,

Add shortcut to Chrome

Another thing you’ll notice is that when you hover over a shortcut three vertical dots appear. Giving you the options to remove or edit the shortcut.

When you click the Add shortcut icon you’ll be presented with two fields. One for the shortcut name and the other for the URL.

Add shortcut to Chrome

How to get the shortcut URL

Visit the site or webpage you want to link to and copy the URL in the address bar. Then paste it into the second input field in the pop out.

Currently there is a limit of 10 shortcuts per browser, after which the option to add more will disappear.

You can even add shortcuts directly to your Google Drive or a specific folder. Although not seemingly of any value, this can save a lot of time.

Browser with ten shortcuts added

As the next guide, about creating multiple Google accounts shows, you may want to create different shortcuts for specific accounts. I often create an account just for single projects.

How to open your browser in your favourite website

Believe it or not, but there are some occasions when you want to open up your browser on a specific website. This only happens with the first tab. All following tabs will open with your curated shortcuts.

My reasons for opening up a website in the browser

If I’m working on a large project, I often create a Google account specifically for the project, as I also do for long term clients.

Such projects often involve developing a website. In these instances, I like to open the website at the same time as the Chrome browser. Then any following tabs open with my preset shortcuts visible.

Opening multiple Chrome tabs in startup

It doesn’t end with only one tab, we can have multiple tabs opening up at the same time. Something I find extremely useful.

Even when not building a website, this feature is still useful. For example opening the browser in the specific Drive project folder is often a real time saver.

All files created in Drive are actual web pages, as are folders. So if working on a large project with many files, you can open them all up together and save having to navigate your file system.

Automatically open a website into the browser

Assuming you’re signed into your account and have a blank tab open, note the three vertical dots at the far right, next to your profile picture.

Click on these dots and then Settings near the bottom. This will open up a new tab.

Chrome settings highlighting the 'On startup' option

In the left side panel click On startup. You’ll then see three options. While the other two can be useful, and now you]ve managed to reach this far in the Chrome settings, you can return.

For this guide we want to select the third option: Open a specific page or set of pages. Then add the URL(s) you wish your browser to open on startup.

On startup popout

Now you’ve created your Google account and customized your browser, why not see how to create and have multiple accounts open at the same time?