Google Chrome refreshes its new tab side panel for easier customization

Google Chrome's new sidebar with customizable options.
(Image credit: Google)

What you need to know

  • Google Chrome gains a refreshed side panel.
  • The panel lets users choose from several background categories from Asian & Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, and various artists.
  • Users can also customize Chrome's Shortcuts and Cards for a more personalized new tab view.

Google is beginning to roll out a slight update to desktop Chrome users that adds a little more of a customizable experience.

Google's Keyword post details the changes coming through for Chrome, all compiled in the browser's new sidebar menu. Like before, opening a new tab and clicking the small pencil icon at the bottom right will open this new sidebar. Google states users can play around with different themes, background photos, and colors. 

If you decide on a pre-made background or choose one yourself, Google Chrome will attempt to add a background color that compliments that photo. As always, you can choose your own color from the given selection, as well.

Speaking of backgrounds, Chrome's new side menu offers a few background categories like "Landscapes," "Earth," and "Life."

Additionally, Google has commissioned several Asian & Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, Latino, Black, and Native American artists to create colorful and lively backgrounds for users to choose from. There are a handful of wallpapers in each category available in Chrome today, and Google states more will come later this year. Also, if you can't choose one and like them all, each category has a toggleable "Refresh Daily" option, where opening Chrome will feature a new photo from that category.

If you are an avid user of Profiles, Google states you can now bring more uniqueness to your work and home profiles by giving them their background and color.

Google Chrome's updated sidebar menu doesn't need constant saving, as your browser will remember your customization changes on its own.

The dropdown menu in this newly refreshed panel contains other options, such as your reading list, bookmarks, and journeys. Scrolling down on the panel unearths customizable Shortcut and Card options. Users can fine-tune whether the shortcuts they see are set by them or based on their most frequented websites. Chrome's Cards can be toggled off entirely, or you can decide (separately) if you'd like to see cooking recipes and "your carts" for pending transactions.

Lastly, as 9to5Google notes, Google Chrome's new Reading Mode will also be accessible through this refreshed side panel. Google states this feature is set to roll out to ChromeOS and desktop clients later this year. Users can use this to create lists, take notes, or view the article in a simpler form.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.