How to switch back to Chrome's old 'New Tab' page

Man, I'm just not a fan of Chrome's redesigned "New Tab" page. And from the looks of it, I'm not the only one.

Chrome New Tab Page

The new "New Tab" page, announced earlier this week, puts a large Google logo and search box in the center of the screen every time you open up a new tab. The change is apparently aimed at more novice users who don't know you can search by typing directly into the browser's address bar.

A Chrome software engineer explained the reasoning back at the start of the "New Tab" redesign process:

While you can search straight from the [address bar] in Chrome, we’ve found that many people still navigate to their search engine's home page to initiate a search instead. The goal is to save people time by helping them search and navigate the Web faster.

Chrome New Tab Page Sad

That's great for grandma, but for those of us who use Chrome all the time and know our way around the browser, it's a frustrating change.

Once you realize you can search by typing into the address bar, after all, having a search box in the middle of the screen is redundant and a waste of space. And on top of that, when you type something into the search box, it actually shows up in the address bar, anyway -- which just looks and feels odd. (Maybe it's a way of trying to teach users to use the address bar instead of the search box -- but if so, shouldn't the search box go away once you get it?)

Your synced tabs from other devices, meanwhile -- one of Chrome's coolest elements, particularly for those of us who use Android -- are now a step further away and hard to find. They're bundled in with no fanfare as part of a new "Recent Tabs" section within the main browser menu.

Here's the good news, though: There is a way to switch back to the old setup. And once you know where to find it, it's easy to do. Just follow these four simple steps:

1. Type chrome://flags into your browser's address bar.

2. Search for the option labeled "Enable Instant Extended API."

3. Change its setting from "Default" to "Disabled."

4. Restart your browser.

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That's it; you'll now be back to the regular old Chrome "New Tab" page setup.

Whew -- crisis averted.

UPDATE [2/21/14]: Google's latest stable Chrome release has removed this setting -- but there's another workaround that still gets the job done. See my update: A new way to avoid Chrome's new 'New Tab' page

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