How To Disable Google New Tab Homepage Thumbnails

Those thumbnails and links to visited websites on the Google homepage are designed to be helpful. Chrome records the sites you visit most and then places a shortcut to it on the homepage so you can get to your most-visited websites quickly. That’s great if you don’t mind everyone seeing where you go online. Not so good if you like to keep that private. This tutorial will show you how to disable those Google new tab homepage thumbnails.


Like many aspects of online life, a ‘helpful’ feature on an app or program can be a double-edged sword. For the most part, having a list of frequently visited websites front and center so you can quickly select them is a good thing. Often unnecessary but intended as a good thing. It doesn’t work for everyone though.

Disable Google new tab page thumbnails

First the bad news. In the current version of Chrome 78, there is no way to disable those new tab thumbnails from within the browser itself. There is no setting currently available to stop it from happening. There are some workarounds though, which I’ll show you here.

Empty New Tab Page

The Empty New Tab Page extension for Chrome effectively disables those thumbnails and removes your frequently visited sites from view. It works well and even supports the new Chrome Dark Mode if you use that.

  1. Navigate to the Empty New Tab Page extension for Chrome.
  2. Select Add to Chrome and select Add extension.
  3. Open a new tab to test.

Using this extension, you should see a blank web page when you open a new tab. You won’t see the search box in the center or anything at all so don’t be surprised if you’re presented with a purely blank screen. That is the intention of this extension. This is an excellent way to remove those new tab page thumbnails from view.

Set a new tab page

An alternative to adding the extension is to modify the new start page. You can control what page is presented when you first start Chrome. This doesn’t stop the thumbnails appearing when you open new tabs but will only change the page shown on startup. It’s less than perfect but it’s another workaround.

  1. Open Chrome and select the three dot menu icon.
  2. Select Settings and Advanced.
  3. Scroll to On Start-Up and select Open a Specific Page or Set of Pages.
  4. Enter a URL of a page to open immediately when Chrome starts.

Again, this only stops those thumbnails appearing on the first page after starting Chrome and not subsequent tabs you open. You can also use ‘about://blank’ instead of a website URL if you prefer.

Clear your Chrome cache

Another less than stellar workaround is to clear your browser cache so Chrome has nothing to display on the new tab page. Again it’s less than ideal but it contributes to privacy by wiping your browsing history as well as those thumbnails.

  1. Open Chrome and select the three dot menu icon.
  2. Select Settings and Advanced.
  3. Scroll to Privacy and Security and select Clear Browsing Data.
  4. Select all options and hit Clear Data.

For the next couple of times you open a new Chrome tab, nothing will show as the browser data has been cleared. That will change with use though so keep on top of everything as you go.

Change individual thumbnails

If you don’t mind the majority of the thumbnails on the new tab page but don’t want one or more of them, you can manually remove or rename them. This can work to hide any guilty secrets from view if none of the other solutions work for you.

  1. Open a new tab in Chrome.
  2. Hover over a thumbnail and select the three dot menu icon that appears.
  3. Select Remove to completely remove the thumbnail.
  4. Rename it or point it to a new URL to keep it but have it point elsewhere.

Arguably removing the thumbnail is easiest but you do have the option to change it. Once you select Done after renaming it, the thumbnail should change to the favicon of the new website you pointed it to. This may take a few seconds or require a page refresh but it will happen.

Those are the ways I know of to remove Google new tab homepage thumbnails. I think the Empty New Tab Page is the most effective but each of these work in their own way. Got any other ways to do it? Tell us about them below if you do!