I’m sure you have fond memories of customizing the iGoogle page just right all those years ago. Google, true to its form, has done away with the tool, instead opting for a much simpler start page with Google’s search bar and tiles for your most-used sites.
But what about us geeks? Who likes a start page that’s filled with shortcuts, a weather forecast, notes, tasks, the latest news stories from favorite websites and a lot more? Start.me is here to pick up the mantle.
Start.me is a homescreen and new tab replacement for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari (via extensions). But you can also access it over the web. Create an account, edit the start page and it will be updated on all your devices.
But the problem is that for a first-time user, Start.me isn’t the easiest to customize. And it looks plain old boring, filled with stuff you don’t care about at all. But don’t worry. We’re here to help. In just a couple of minutes, Start.me can go from a generic dashboard to your personal launchpad.
1. Delete Widgets You Don’t Need
Start.me comes with a lot of hyper-local widgets that you might not need. I had to delete most of them. You might too. So first click the drop-down arrow beside each widget and click “Delete” and confirm.
Do this for all the widgets you don’t need.
But spare one bookmarks widget. Why? That’s the next point.
2. Add Widgets You Actually Want
Start.me has a huge library of widgets. You can add widgets for notes, tasks, Gmail, weather, and a lot more. Click the “+” button on the home page. From the sidebar, select the kind of widget you want and add it.
3. Create a Widget for Your Most-Visited Sites
For some reason, creating a bookmark-based widget from scratch in Start.me is currently really buggy. Also it’s a long process.
Instead, just target a widget that’s already there. I went with the “Social” widget.
Click the drop-down arrow and select “Edit.” Click the “Pen” icon beside the name, and change it to whatever you want. I went with “Most Visited Sites.”
You’ll see sites below. Delete the ones you don’t want to keep. At the bottom, you’ll see a text field. Just start typing in the URL for the sites you want to add. The title of the website and the favicon will automatically be imported.
You can either keep this widget as a list, but it doesn’t really look that great. I like a good visual clue. These are, after all, the sites you’ll be visiting multiple times a day.
So click the drop-down arrow again, select “Settings” and from the “Bookmark” option, select “Show as large icons.”
4. Add Your Own Feeds to the News Widget
Start.me has a sweet News widget which is again populated by local news sites you might not read.
But it’s easy to customize it. The widget is great because it allows you to add multiple sites that you can switch between, and below you’ll see pages and pages of the latest news from there.
So click the drop-down menu, select “Edit” and delete the feeds you don’t want. Then click “New RSS Feed.”
This will bring up a sidebar with popular websites. You can search a website by name to find it. Not all sites are supported, but classic RSS links still work. Just paste in the RSS link for a website to add it.
5. Add Channels
Start.me has an abundance of Channels. They are basically news widgets but for specific topics or websites. Click the “Menu” button and select “Channels.” You’ll now see popular categories. The Tech category is the last one, hidden in the “More” menu. By default, these channels will be localized. Click the “Globe” icon and select “International.”
When you find a Channel you want to add to your start page, just click the drop-down arrow button and select “Copy.”
6. Customize the Looks
The last thing we need to take care of is how the start page looks. And by default, it’s bland. So click the “Start page” button from the toolbar and select “Change background.”
Here you can either upload your own background or select a stock background.
Just above, using the slider, increase the “Widgets transparency” just a bit. This adds a really cool effect.
You can also increase the number of columns from here.
7. Quickly Add a Web Page to Start.me
If you’ve installed the Chrome extension, you’ll see a little Start.me icon in the URL bar with compatible pages. Clicking the button will allow you to add the current page as a bookmark or a feed item directly to your start page.
Do you use Start.me? If yes, what other ways do you use to customize it to your liking?