Add a "real" search box to Google Chrome's New Tab Page

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 30, 2019
Google Chrome

Google's Chrome web browser displays a search field on the New Tab Page of the web browser by default. Users of the web browser may have noticed three things: first, that the search field is not displayed if most search engines are selected, second, that customization options are only provided if Google is selected as the search provider, and third, that the search field is fake.

Note: If you select Bing Search, you may notice that the search field is not fake. It works just like the search box on the Bing homepage.

Google placed the search field on Chrome's New Tab Page in 2012 and has kept it there since. The search field's sole purpose is to provide users with another option to run searches using Google Search. Activation does not return any search results, however. The only effect that a click or tap on the search field has is that the address bar field gets activated.

google chrome real search new tab page

In other words: the search field redirects input to the address bar. Users could use the address bar right away instead and there would not be any difference.

Some users of the web browser may dislike the functionality. I dislike it because it offers no advantage over running searches directly from the address bar.

Google Chrome features an experimental flag that users may enable that turns the fake search field into a real search field.

Note that this works only if Google Search is the search provider in the Chrome browser.

real search box new tab chrome

Here is how that is done:

  1. Load the following address by typing it in the Chrome address bar: chrome://flags/
  2. Search for Real search box in New Tab Page. You may also skip the first two steps by loading chrome://flags/#ntp-realbox directly.
  3. Set the status of the flag to Enabled.
  4. Restart the Chrome browser.

When you open a New Tab page in Chrome after the restart and start to type in the search field on it, you will notice that it is now active and does not redirect to the address bar any longer. Google Chrome returns suggestions as you type based on the browsing history but also from Google Search.

Now You: what is your take on search fields on New Tab pages? (via Ask VG)

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Add a "real" search box to Google Chrome's New Tab Page
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  1. Roberta said on January 16, 2023 at 1:01 am

    Lame, fake and no real help here (
    My Google search was “real Google search” and your website was included in my results.
    I do not have a “real” “Google Chrome” app so no “real” search results.
    In fact, none of my Apple apps are “real”, which is ILLEGAL. I am being blocked from accessing ALL websites and apps.
    BY WHO????

    This is one of MANY “replies” I leave on company websites with no replies from developers.

    Hopefully, someone will do the right thing and make it stop and have those responsible, held accountable and inform me when done. 3years, still waiting……

  2. chesscanoe said on December 31, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    I can only vouch the flags are there in Version 80.0.3987.16 (Official Build) beta (64-bit) of Chrome under Microsoft Windows [Version 10.0.18363.535].

  3. david hartness said on December 31, 2019 at 4:56 pm


  4. Roozter said on December 31, 2019 at 2:15 am

    Just updated to Chrome v. 79.0.3945.93 today…
    The response to these searches in Flags is “No matching experiments.”

  5. Ray said on December 31, 2019 at 1:28 am

    My new tab page will always remain about:blank.

    If I want to search, I’ll use the address bar as I have always done.

  6. Roozter said on December 30, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Chrome Flags response to these searches is “No matching experiments”.

  7. george said on December 30, 2019 at 4:28 pm


    Off topic, but did you know that articles appearing on also appear, in slightly altered form (few words changed here and there) on a site called ‘

  8. chesscanoe said on December 30, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    I enabled the referenced flag as well as the one just below called
    “Make the New Tab page real search box match the omnibox’s theme colors”. Finally a way to get rid of that glaring white space!

  9. ULBoom said on December 30, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Hmmm…I have DDG as the default search engine in the Chromium I occasionally use. DDG is set as the home page and new tab page with an extension and for whatever reason, the search box is real: enter something, click and the results page loads.

    The flag mentioned above doesn’t exist in my 2018 version of Chromium, nor is there anything similar in the DDG settings.

    Surprising? Not really.

  10. Paul(us) said on December 30, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Yeah, nice Martin,
    Much appreciated I always was of the opinion that this was not smart from google to discontinue.

    Maybe we’re also getting a flag so I can see on what kind (http, https,web2,etc. or not) of website I am. That Google discontinued this visible means of educating myself possibility is also not smart.

    Nice that this flag also works when searching with in the search box.

  11. Raul said on December 30, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Copying Microsoft Edge haha yes

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