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How to turn your Chrome Start tab into a productivity launchpad

Jack Wallen shows you how to turn Chrome's Start tab into a much more productive place.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer

The default Google Chrome Start tab is pretty barren. Sure, you can add a few bookmarks and search Google. You can also add a background image but that's about it. What if I told you there was a Chrome extension that could turn that page into a much more productive area, with a launchpad for your most-used sites, a language translator, a calendar, tasks, notes, a motivational widget, and plenty of more apps on the horizon (such as SMS).

Does that sound like something that might make Chrome's Start tab a bit more useful to you? If so, let me show you how to get started with Manganum. 

Installing Manganum

To install the extension, open Chrome and point it to the extension's page in the Manganum Chrome Web Store. Click Add to Chrome (Figure 1).

Manganum listed in the Google Chrome Web Store.

The Manganum page in the Chrome Web Store.

Image: Jack Wallen

When prompted (Figure 2), click Add extension.

The Manganum extension install prompt.

Installing Manganum on Chrome.

Image: Jack Wallen

The extension will install and drop you immediately into the Manganum tab (Figure 3).

The default Manganum tab.

The default Manganum tab is ready to use.

Image: Jack Wallen

How to use Manganum

The first thing you'll want to do is open and configure the Launchpad. This feature is exactly what it sounds like, a location to launch sites you save, open various Google services, and access various Chrome tools (such as Clear browser history, Default new tab, Settings, Downloads, Bookmarks, Passwords, and Payment).

To open the Launchpad, click the top icon in the left sidebar to open the tool (Figure 4).

The Manganum Launchpad.

The Manganum Launchpad is ready to be configured.

Image: Jack Wallen

To add a new site to the Favorites section, click Add website and, when prompted, type the necessary information (Figure 5).

The Manganum New Site add popup.

Adding a new site to the Manganum favorites.

Image: Jack Wallen

If you click the Calendar icon in the left sidebar, you'll be prompted to sign in with your Google account (to give Manganum access - Figure 6).

The Manganum Google Calendar signin window.

Add your Google Calendar to Manganum for an even more productive experience.

Image: Jack Wallen

After adding your calendar to Manganum, you'll see all of your events appear in the Calendar sidebar (Figure 7).

Google Calendar events as shown in the Manganum Calendar app.

My Google Calendar events are easily accessible from within Manganum.

Image: Jack Wallen

The rest of the built-in apps (tasks, translate, and notes) all work in the same way. 

How to configure Manganum

You can also enable/disable the three available widgets by clicking the ON/OFF slider icon at the bottom right of the window (Figure 8).

The Manganum Widget enable/disable popup.

Enable or disable the available widgets.

Image: Jack Wallen

And that's pretty much all there is to installing and using this handy replacement for the default Chrome Start tab. Give Manganum a try and see if it doesn't help make Chrome a bit more productive.

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