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January 23, 2008

Make about:blank Your Homepage

Many sites try to convince you to set them as your homepage: for example, every time you visit google.com using Internet Explorer, the site prompts you to make Google your homepage (Firefox's default homepage is already a skinned google.com).

Other sites are created just to become your homepage: from classic portals like Yahoo.com to personalized homepages like My Yahoo, iGoogle or Netvibes. But none of the sites is better than about:blank.

According to Wikipedia, "about: is an internal URI scheme (also known as a URL scheme or, erroneously, protocol) in various web browsers to display certain built-in functions and Easter eggs. It is not an officially registered scheme, and has no standard syntax." One of the most common addresses is about:blank, whose only purpose is to display a blank HTML document. It's supported by most browsers and it has a lot of advantages:

* your browser loads much faster
* it works even if you don't have an Internet connection
* it's not distracting so you can continue your work
* you are free to decide where to go, without letting others decide for you
* if you open a new window, some browsers (for example, Internet Explorer) load the homepage
* it's the most minimalist homepage in the world



Fortunately, most browsers have an option to set the blank page as a homepage, but you can always type about:blank to replace the default homepage. And next time when you install a toolbar or any other popular software, keep an eye on settings like "Make Yahoo.com your homepage". By default, most software from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft has the mission to change your homepage and the default search provider.

26 comments:

  1. What Firefox Theme is it on the Screenshot?

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  2. Tangerine Firefox Theme with icons from the Tango Desktop Project. It has a lot of imperfections, but I still like it.

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  3. "every time you visit google.com using Internet Explorer, the site prompts you to make Google your homepage"

    I always use Internet Explorer, and when I visit google.com, it never prompts me to make Google my homepage.

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  4. I've always seen this message in Internet Explorer 7. If you set Google as your homepage, it disappears. The message used to be even more annoying, but now it's just a link at the bottom of the page.

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  5. wow I've been following the trends w/o knowing... about:blank is my homepage for over 10 years. :-)

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  6. It's funny, I like not using the blank homepage for the following reasons:

    * I know if I'm connected to the internet or not when I open the browser

    * I have my homepage as iGoogle, and this lets me quickly get to wherever I need without needing to think about where I need to go

    * I created an iGoogle gadget with my bookmarks as favicons so I can choose my favorite/most useful sites and have a consistent list no matter where I use the internet from

    I found it interesting that some of the reasons you listed are exactly why I don't use about:blank :)

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  7. First question i have after reading this entry was same as Pascal.

    Thanks for answer.

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  8. try about:MoZilla in firefox :)

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  9. Just for the record ;-)

    My homepage is google.com/reader/

    where I can put the starting folder as /art or /stuff or whatever stream

    My favorite Firefox Theme is

    View/Toolbars/Customize/Show: Text

    No bad designed buttons anymore ;-)

    Best regards, Hans

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  10. IE7 still thas this long 'connecting to your home page' wait while it looks up about:blank against some antiphishing site or something. Or it just takes forever to start up the IE engine, and they blame it on the remote site.

    I find that for IE, Windows Update makes a good start page, as it is its sole remaining reason to be used.

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  11. I'm a loyal about:blank user. But earlier today I installed Opera, and its default page was a speed dial, which I found counter-productive because I like interfaces to "shut up" every once in a while (and yes, I'm sure this speed dial can be easily disabled in the Opera options).

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  12. I'm an opera:speeddial lover (albiet, that uri hasn't arrived, yet)

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  13. For me I had my wordpress website locally hosted (faster) on my laptop and desktop pc. something like http://localhost/wp/

    and as for my client pcs, on my computer shop. They are using http://server/wp/ the website from my server on the network and it's faster that way and doesn't turn their Homepage as blank only when they open it :)

    It looks something like on http://www.fedmich.com

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  14. Niraj: did you publish your igoogle gadget? Sounds useful

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  15. I use an FF add-on with similar behaviour to Opera's Speed Dial - Fast Dial. It loads quite quickly (faster than Speed Dial, IIRC), is a tad more customisable, loads through about:blank (thank God) and I can use Alt+<number> for each of the sites.

    But iGoogle is still at the top of my list. :D

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  16. Not too long ago we had an about:blank home page hijacker. That's the first thing that I think when I see an about:blank page

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  17. I don't even remember what I have set as my homepage. It's not important to me because I have my browsers set to reopen the last tabs I was using. That way I have continuity from one session to the next.

    Before I did this, I used to use whatever 'blank' option was offered by the browser, for speed purposes. I think that's a good idea if you're on dial-up, but few are these days.

    My browsers:
    Firefox 3
    Opera
    IE 7

    K-meleon [I have the home page here set to my DSL modem so I can quickly get to it if I have connection problems]

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  18. I prefer to use igoogle as my home page. However, my default page on start is about blank. I prefer the blank fresh start for fast loading times and minimal distraction. However, I love to hit that home button and have it send me to the launch pad for all of my net applications.

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  19. I'm a about:blank fan and everything that you have written in this article is so correct. It's just I am having difficulties to explain to other about my about:blank habit

    Colin Joss
    Colin.Joss@gmail.com
    East Lothian, Haddington
    United Kingdom

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  20. I am editor of about:blank: http://www.aboutblank.nl. The one & only.
    Thank you for the free publicity for our weblog about weblogs. ;-)

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  21. Wow! There is a malware that replaces your homepage with about:blank. That's extremely cool.

    There's even a site dedicated to removing about:blank: about-blank-removers.org:

    "This site is designed to help people who want to Remove about blank's annoying homepage hijack spyware and take back control of your PC today. about blank is a Browser Helpler Object in geek language. In normal people language it means your browser has been hijacked. Your system is infected with hard to find remove spyware that can change your homepage to about blank page. 'about blank' infections may also slow your computer by consuming system resources."

    Of course, the site forgets to mention that this malware hijacks the about:blank page and people now associate the innocent about:blank page with malware.

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  22. Opera speed dial is the way to go! Now available for firefox:
    http://speeddial.uworks.net/

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  23. Hi Anthony,

    I don't Opera, but I have Firefox as my 2nd Browser. I'll visit that link and have a look. Thank you for sharing.

    Colin Joss
    East Lothian, Haddington, United Kingdom
    http://www.glucosaminadvice.com

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  24. how to make ur home page about blank

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