Browser extensions excel at making your browser more useful, but these customizations often aren't about improving the actual look of the browser itself, Firefox's earth-changing UI themes aside.
That makes sense: Browser aesthetics are pretty clearly defined, with not a whole lot to improve--except when it comes to Chrome's New Tab page.
If you've ever thought Google's new tab page looked downright dreary and utilitarian, here are three extensions you can add to Chrome to brighten up your browser and--if you wish--even boost your productivity at the same time.
Earth View from Google Maps
Earth View from Google Maps doesn't require any set-up whatsoever. You just install it in your browser and every time you open a new tab, you get a beautiful satellite photo from Google Maps. In my tests with this extension, the pictures were a little slow to show up, lagging by a few seconds at times.
There's little to tell you that the images are from an extension save for a Google Maps logo in the lower left corner, a link to your Chrome Apps in the upper left corner, and an indicator in the lower right telling you what part of the world the current image is from.
If you'd like to blend prettiness with productivity in your new tab page, try Momentum.
When you first start up this extension it will ask you for your name, and what your "main focus" for the day is. Then every time you open a new tab you're greeted with the time of day, a personalized salutation, and a reminder about what you wanted to focus on.
Momentum also adds a few additional niceties, such as a beautiful photo as a backdrop, an expandable to-do list in the lower right corner, and the current weather in the upper right. As with the Google Maps extension, you can access your Chrome apps by clicking the Apps link in the upper left corner.
At the very bottom of each open tab, Momentum also includes a motivational quote, which can get very inspiring or tiresome depending on your personal tastes.
Our final beautifying extension is Pinterest Tab from the image-focused social network, Pinterest (no account required). Similar to the other extensions you get a nice big, beautiful background image (this time from Pinterest).
When you first start the extension, you're asked to select image topics such as fashion, sports, travel, food, and architecture. If you decide not to choose anything, you get fed images with the generic "photography" tag.
Pinterest's extension has a lot more going on than the other two. In the lower left corner it's pulling in data from Google Calendar. The upper left corner has a direct link to Pinterest.
On the lower right, you've got information about the photo you're viewing. And at the top right, you've got a toggle to show your bookmarks bar, a refresh button to change the image, and a plus button to change-up the photo subjects you'd like to view.
The extension also adds a "Pin It" button to your browser, a helpful addition if you're an actual Pinterest user.
Extensions are an easy way to brighten up your browser, and the three extensions above let you decide on how productive or just plain attractive you'd like your new tab page to be.