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This Chrome trick will finally make your to-do list useful

The case for replacing your browser’s new tab page with a to-do list.

This Chrome trick will finally make your to-do list useful
[Photo: Glen Carstens-Peters/Unsplash]

Until recently, I’d never been a daily to-do list person.

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While setting out goals for the day is a great idea in theory, the habit was too easy for me to ignore. Instead of starting my day with apps such as Todoist or Things, I’d always dive right into email, Slack, and my usual round of must-read websites before tackling whatever deadlines seemed most pressing.

Over the past few weeks, however, I’ve made a little change that’s vastly improved my day-to-day organization: I’ve replaced my web browser’s new tab page with one that has a to-do list built in. Adding a task list to the one app I use the most has made those daily goals inescapable.

Here are a few different apps you can use to set up to-do lists on your own new tab page in Chrome, Firefox, or any browser with Chrome extension support, such as the new Microsoft Edge.

Tabliss

Simple to-dos with Tabliss

If you’re unfamiliar with alternative new tab pages, my colleague JR Raphael wrote about some of them in March, and I also mentioned a couple more in my recent roundup of new productivity apps. By installing these extensions in Chrome or other popular browsers, you can replace your default new tab page with one that provides extra features.

My go-to of late has been an extension called Tabliss, which works with both Firefox and Chrome. Unlike a standard new tab page, Tabliss can be customized with all kinds of useful widgets, including a simple to-do list. If you’d rather not install it right away, you can play around with it first on this page.

To add a to-do list, just click the gear icon in the top-left corner, click the “Add a new widget” drop-down menu, then select “Todos.” You can then click the + icon at the center of the screen to add new items to your list, and click the circle icon to mark them as complete. If your browser is set to sync extensions, your list will automatically sync between devices as well.

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Tabliss’s to-do list feature is admittedly basic—you can’t create subtasks, add notes, attach files, color code, or share list items with other people—but that’s what I like about it. I seldom have more than three or four major tasks to accomplish per day, and a simple list means less friction when I’m trying to jot down those goals.

Slite

Free-form task lists with Slite

Compared to Tabliss, Draft by Slite doesn’t have the same suite of widgets and beautiful background images. Instead, it turns Chrome’s new tab page into a notepad with support for Markdown formatting. To add a checklist, just click the checklist button to the right of the text field, or type [ ] on a new line.

The best thing about Slite is its free-form nature. You can type notes underneath any checkbox, add hyperlinks, create indented subtasks, spruce up your tasks with emoji, use bullet points, link to Google Drive files, or even integrate cards from external services such as Trello. If you feel boxed in by typical to-do list apps, this might be just what you need. The only major downside is that the new tab page doesn’t sync to other computers you might be using.

Change New Tab

Heavy-duty to-dos with Change New Tab

For those who are really married to a specific to-do list service, the best option might be to just use that service as your new tab page. With the Change New Tab extension for Chrome or New Tab Override for Firefox, you can choose any website to load automatically when you open a new tab.

After installing either extension, you’ll be prompted to enter the URL for the page you’d like to load. Just enter the link for your to-do list service of choice, whether it’s Todoist, Microsoft To-Do, Any.do, Google Tasks, or something else. You could even copy the link for a specific note in Google Keep to jump straight to it.

Todoist

Getting your old tab page back

If you try out one of these options and then decide it’s not right for you, you’ll have to visit your browser’s extension menu to bring back the standard new tab page. Once you get used to managing daily tasks through your new tab page, however, you may have trouble going back to anything else.

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