Google Chrome 19 Released – Tab Sync Good, New Startup Changes Bad
Version 19 (currently 19.0.1084.46) will be downloaded and installed automatically if you don’t already have it. New users can download and install Chrome 19 directly here.
Alternatively there is also a full standalone offline installer here – this may be useful if you want to save the Chrome installation file e.g. to put on a flash drive and install on multiple computers without having to re-download it each time.
Apart from 21 security fixes (paying out total rewards of $7,500 to the finders) and several stability updates there is a cool new features in Chrome 19 which can synchronize open tabs across multiple computers. There is also an unpublicized change to the Chrome startup tab that may prove a pain for some people… I’ll cover that later but first the new feature:
Tab Sync – Firefox users will recognize this feature – tab sync has been available in Firefox for some time now as part of Firefox Sync.
When you’re signed in to Chrome, your open tabs will now be synchronized across all your devices – so you can quickly access them from the ‘Other devices’ menu on the New Tab page. As an example, if you open the webpage of a good restaurant in a tab on your work computer, but can’t remember it when you get home – just open Chrome at home and you can pull up the same tab with just one click.
[If you’ve got Chrome for Android, you can also open the same tabs on your phone if you’re in town and need to pull up the restaurant name/address. The back and forward buttons will even work, so you can pick up browsing right where you left off].
As before, signing in to Chrome also syncs your bookmarks, apps, extensions, history, themes, and other settings. That way, when you sign in to Chrome, you can have your personal Chrome experience on all your devices. Just go to the Chrome menu and select “Sign in to Chrome.”
Note: although it is part of Chrome 19, this new tab sync feature will be rolled out gradually over the coming weeks – you might not have it immediately after upgrading.
Chrome Startup Tab – This has not been widely publicized but it is the most obvious change and, for some people, may be hugely unwelcome.
Chrome 19 sets the startup tab (the first page you see when Chrome opens) to the ‘New Tab’ page by default – no matter what your previous options or homepage were:
I’ve already fielded calls from disgruntled users who used to have Chrome set to open their homepage (e.g. a sports newsite) and now find that it has been replaced by this New Tab page when Chrome opens.
Many people can’t remember the web address of their old startup page either so they can’t find it again…
Fortunately there is an easy solution.
1. Press the Home button to go to your old home page (if the Home button is not visible in the menu bar, click the ‘Wrench’ icon then ‘Settings’ and under the ‘Appearance’ section tick the ‘Show Home Button’ option)
2. Now you know what your old homepage was you can Bookmark it for future use and/or proceed to step 3.
3. If you don’t want the New Tab page to open at startup and prefer your old home page you can reset it in Chrome Settings:
- Click the ‘Wrench’ icon then ‘Settings’ and under the ‘On start-up’ section tick select the radio button for ‘Open a specific page or set of pages’ then click ‘Set pages’
- If your old homepage is the only page open (apart from the Settings page) just click the ‘Use current pages’ button which will populate the Startup pages with your preferred homepage then click OK
- Alternatively, if you have several pages open, type in the website address (URL) of your homepage in the ‘Add a new page’ box then press Enter and click OK
The next time you reopen Chrome it should start up with your home page displayed instead of the New Tab page :-)
Updated 22nd May – one of our readers (thanks Tommy) has noted that this solution does not work if you open a second instance of Chrome whilst the first instance of Chrome is still open i.e. launch chrome browser, it shows your home page correctly… Launch a second chrome browser and it still shows the ‘New Tab’ page.
In Chrome 19 there is no longer a Home Page option to configure! There is a Home Button but that’s not the same thing. By default then, the New Tab must open on 2nd instance because there is no longer an option to specify a Home Page and it is not the first Chrome Startup either.
This problem has been raised with the Chromium team as an issue here.
1. Preferred solution. One of our readers provided a simple command line switch solution to this problem. Find the program shortcut you use to open Chrome – usually on your desktop or in Start \ Programs or in Quick Launch.
Right click this Chrome shortcut and select ‘Properties’ to open the shortcut’s Properties window. Select the ‘Shortcut’ tab and in the ‘Target’ box, add the command given in the comment 8 Example below to the end of the entry – after chrome.exe
Note: there is a single space after chrome.exe followed by two hyphens and there is a single space after window. You can copy and paste the command line switch from the comment and you can change google.com to whatever you want as your startup page.
2. Alternative solution. If you want a New Tab to always display a custom page of your choice e.g. your Home Page/Button or a blank page etc, instead of the usual Apps/Visited Sites page – add the ‘New Tab Redirect!’ extension here to set a customized New Tab page – this will be opened on 2nd+ instance so if you set it to be the same as your homepage you will enjoy the same behavior as before for multiple instances.
Other Settings Changes
Selecting ‘Wrench’ icon and Settings reveals other, more helpful, changes. The Settings tab is now split into 3 parts – History, Extension and Settings displayed as a left panel menu.
Settings – now displays only the most common options by default – select ‘Show Advanced Settings’ at the bottom of the page to reveal further Privacy, Passwords and Downloads etc options.
Extensions – displays a list of all extensions added to Chrome – finally this provides a more obvious and logical way to access/disable/uninstall them.
History – gets its own tab with options to search, visit or clear history.
The main change in Google Chrome 19 is the welcome ability to synchronize open tabs via your Google account – making it possible to carry on where you left off on a different computer.
However, the change of startup page to New Tab is a user interface change that some will find very annoying – it is far less intuitive and creates unnecessary confusion. See the Temporary Solution above for an extension fix (hopefully Google will change this behavior back at some point in future).
The other Settings changes may take some getting used to but the split into 3 sections is an improvement. The move of less common items into an Advanced section makes sense as it makes the most popular settings easier to find.