Jan 062012
 

Google ChromeI find that many people don’t like their most visited websites being displayed in the New Tab of their Google Chrome browser. As you may be aware, when you start a new tab in Google Chrome, it shows your 8 most visited websites in this empty page. Since this new tab page is visible to everyone using Google Chrome, some people find it embarrassing to reveal details of their most visited websites. The question is: can you manually change the most visited websites displayed in the new tab? The answer is: “No” and “Yes”. The answer is “No” since Chrome does not provide any user-friendly way to do it. The answer is “Yes” since it is possible to change the most visited websites displayed in the new tab, but with some tricks that may not generally be desirable for a novice user. If you’re interested to do so, here is the method that I found after a lot of trial and error and experimentation. Caution: a novice user is advised not to change these settings, though I also describe an easy method for the novice user as well. [Also see: Really an Awesome New Tab Page for Chrome for regular sites and Customize Most Visited Sites in New Tab in Google Chrome].

An easy method to change the list of most visited sites in new tab of Chrome:

First the easy method to do it that is safe even for a novice user.

Open the New Tab in Google Chrome. There are 8 most visited websites displayed in the New Tab. Hover the mouse to top-right corner of the thumbnail of a most visited website that you want to delete from the New Tab page; it will display a cross sign (X) as displayed in the following snapshot.

Click X sign to remove a website from list of most visited websites in Chrome

Click X sign to remove a website from list of most visited websites in Chrome

Click this X sign to delete this thumbnail from the New Tab page in Chrome. With this thumbnail deleted, the most visited website represented by this thumbnail will also now be deleted from the New Tab page. You can check it. In its place, the next in order most visited website will now be included in the 8 most visited websites.

This way, you can easily remove or delete the most visited websites from the New Tab page of Google Chrome browser, if you find some specific most visited website embarrassing to you.

Difficult method (for experts) for changing the list of most visited sites in new tab of Chrome:

Here is the difficult method to do so, which is meant for the expert user. I found this method by a lot of experimentation and research. Follow these steps:

(1)    First of all, you must know where Google Chrome stores the file that contains the list of most visited websites. Here, I presume that you’re using Chrome as the Default user (though now Chrome also allows to have more than one users; however, the method will remain the same, just use the relevant file for that particular user name in case you’re using Chrome as a different user). Moreover, to view the relevant folders and files, you may have to change the Folder Options (in Windows Explorer) to “Show hidden files, folders, and drives”.

(2)    The list of most visited websites is contained in the file called “Top Sites” (it does not use any file extension). This file is in the format of SQLite database format.

(3)    If you’re using Microsoft Windows 7, you can find this “Top Sites” file located in the following location:

C -> Users -> User-name -> AppData -> Local -> Google -> Chrome -> User Data -> Default -> Top Sites

If you’re using Microsoft Windows XP, you can find this “Top Sites” file located in the following location:

C -> Documents and Settings -> User-name -> Local Settings -> Application Data -> Google -> Chrome -> User Data -> Default -> Top Sites

Here, replace User-name with your own actual user-name in Windows system with which you’re logged in.

Similarly, if you’re using Microsoft Windows Vista, you can easily find the location for this “Top Sites” file in your system.

(4)    Having known about this file which contains the details of most visited websites, you’ll have to manually edit this file. Since this file is in the SQLite database format, you’ll have to get a software that can edit such a database file. I find that SQLite Database Browser is a good software (which is free and open-source) to edit such files. You can download this free software from SourceForge website. So, download and install this software (actually, there is no need to install it, since it does not need any installation; simply unzip the downloaded software in a folder and run it from there).

(5)    Now, start this SQLite Database Browser software. Now, open the aforesaid “Top Sites” file from its aforesaid location on your computer in this software. Thereafter, click “Browse Data” tab in the software, and then select “thumbnails” from the “Table” section. See these settings in the following snapshot [Caution: please do not change any other settings unnecessarily, otherwise Chrome may become unstable]:

Changing Most Visited Websites in New Tab of Google Chrome browser

Changing Most Visited Websites in New Tab of Google Chrome browser

(6)    By comparing the list of most visited websites displayed in the New Tab of your Chrome browser, with the list of URLs displayed in the database of this “Top Sites” file as shown above, you can easily notice that these most visited websites are governed by the “url rank” column (i.e., field) of this database. So, you can change the URL Rank of a website to upgrade or demote or even delete it from the list of most visited websites in the New Tab of Chrome. It may be mentioned that this database file contains the list of 24 websites, which have the URL Rank from 0 to 23. Out of these, the websites which have the best ranks (typically, from 0 to 7) will be shown in the New Tab as most visited website, and the remaining 16 websites will be in the wait list or the reserve list. To change the URL Rank of a specific website, click on its URL Rank field. For example, when I clicked on the URL Rank 4 field, the following dialog box appeared on the screen:

Change URL Rank of a website to upgrade / demote it in list of most visited websites in New Tab of Chrome

Change URL Rank of a website to upgrade / demote it in list of most visited websites in New Tab of Chrome

(7)    You can change its URL Rank by manually entering a number in this dialog box and then clicking Apply Changes button. After that, you can save the above database file by clicking the Save button.

(8)    What I did was to change URL Rank 4 to 0 of one such website, and then in the next step, I changed the URL Rank 0 to 4 of another website in the most visited websites list. So, with these changes, my 1st and 5th most visited websites were inter-changed mutually.

(9)    In a similar manner, you can make other changes to the list of most visited websites by changing this database file. You can delete a website from this list by selecting that particular row and then clicking Delete Record button. You can also add a new website to the list of most visited websites by clicking New Record button, and then entering details of the new website (give it an appropriate URL Rank between 0 to 7 and then appropriately change / demote URL rank of an existing most visited site, to display the newly added website in its place).

That’s it! This is how you can change the list of the most visited websites whose thumbnails appear in the New Tab of Chrome browser. As I mentioned earlier, be careful to not make any unnecessary changes (especially, do NOT change the database structure of this file), otherwise, your Chrome browser may become unstable. Enjoy!





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  • deena

    Hi,
    Great article. However – when I made those changes in SQL, they didn’t get applied to Chrome! And when I reopened SQL, the changes had reverted to their original state! I tried changing it again a couple more times but Chrome is still not responding to the changes, and apparently neither is SQL. Can you think of why? I would really like to solve this somehow…

  • Saba

    Hi,
    I did everything you said and when i started chrome my most visited sites were the ones I’d changed them to, but after a couple of seconds they just relapsed to the old ones. I changed it a few times but the same thing happens every time. I don’t know what to do. If you can think of the reason why this happens, I’d really love to know.

  • oyosa

    this will not work because chrome will assume the file got corrupted and re-load a backup. google is the new microsoft if you havent noticed.

  • Danny

    I am experiencing the same problem. I have not found a solution yet but I think the issue must be that the underlying browsing data that Chrome uses to update the thumbnails table is stored somewhere else. For example, although you change the url_rank of Site A to 0 and Site B to 1, if there is browsing history stored in some other table that shows 100 visits to Site B and 50 visits to Site A, then as soon as Chrome invokes its function to update the thumbnails table, it will switch that order back to what it was before you manually edited the url_rank. At least that’s my best hypothesis at the moment. I might try to dig a little deeper in some of the other tables.

  • Flapjack Jenkins

    The procedure in the article didn’t work for me.

    My “Most Visited” tab was screwed up after I installed an app into Chrome from the Freemake suite (Video Converter, Audio Converter). I deleted the following files from Start > [Username] > AppData > Local > Google > Chrome > User Data > Default.

    - Archived History
    - Archived History-journal
    - History
    - History Index (there were multiple History Index files to delete, each with a date at the end of the file name)
    - History Provider Cache
    - History-journal
    - Last Session
    - Last Tabs
    - Top Sites
    - Top Sites-journal
    - Visited Links
    - There was also a Preference.bad file I deleted, but I did NOT delete the Preferences file

    This procedure solved my problem. The files I deleted were re-populated in the folder and my “Most Visited” tab page was reset. My “Most Visited” page is updating my most visited sites as intended. It’s been a few days and I’ve noticed no problems.

  • http://www.hybridships.co.uk/ The Greatest freedom

    I’m seriously considering to stop use chrome..it slows the Pc and I need to erase the history more often..