How to get rid of Chrome’s web history icons

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You may have noticed something new recently if you use Google Chrome as your web browser.  Whenever you open a new tab, that new tab page displays the Google search field.  And right below that, there are a bunch of icons representing the websites you have recently visited.  A lot of people don’t like that their web history is right out there on display for anyone within eyesight of the screen.

This is what it looks like:

Chrome history icons


A lot of people have complained about this, and yet Google has still left it to display that way by default.  I don’t really understand that, because there doesn’t seem to be a way for Google to have any additional revenues by displaying this information.

Suppose you’re at work and your boss comes over and asks you to pull up a particular website.  With him looking over your shoulder, you open a new tab, and there on display are all the sites you have been visiting recently – YouTube, Reddit, Craigslist (an added touch of embarrassment would be Craigslist showing the “Jobs” category).

Or maybe your wedding anniversary is coming up, and you want to buy your wife a nice new ring.  And in a moment of carelessness, you open a new tab with her in view of the screen, and she sees Gordon’s Jewelers, Zale Jewelers, Tiffany & Company.  Or even worse, the Craigslist “Used Jewelry” category.

This is something that can be avoided just by changing a simple setting in Chrome.  Here’s how:

1. Open Google Chrome.

2. In the address bar, type:  chrome:flags and hit Enter on your keyboard.

3. You’ll see a warning, and it’s one that you should pay attention to.  Don’t hang around here very long – just finish the rest of the steps and exit.

4. Hit Ctrl + F to open a search window in the top right corner of the page, and type in Enable instant.

Chrome new tab history icons

5. When you have typed that, you will see one of the entries on the page highlighted.  Click the drop-down menu and choose “Disabled”.

6. Close the tab

Now close Chrome and open it again, and then open a new tab.  It should look like this:

Chrome new tab web history

Nice!  No Chrome web history on display!

But – the web history is still there if you do want to view it for easy access.  See the little arrow on the left side, pointing to the left?  Click that, and you’ll see those web history icons if you need to.

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Shawn Morrison
October 14th, 2013

Hi Scott,

The showing of history has been something that has been a bit of irritation to me as well, so I sure appreciate your great tip. However it seems that I may be doing something wrong. When I go back through the process it shows that disabled is still selected but the web history is still displayed when I open an new tab. I even thought that rebooting would make a difference but no such luck. Any tips on what I may be doing wrong?


Scott Johnson
October 14th, 2013

Not sure Shawn. You might check your Chrome extensions and see if there is one that is forcing that new tab page to show up that way.

Shawn Morrison
October 14th, 2013

That may be it…thanks Scott

November 7th, 2013

Thanks for that

is there any way just to have chrome open on a blank page or can I delete those icons

Scott Johnson
November 7th, 2013

I believe you could just set your home page to “about:blank” (without the quotes).