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An indispensable note-taking tool for Chrome


Most folks don’t realize it, but Chrome’s New Tab page — y’know, that screen with the Google logo and search box that you see every time you open up a new tab on your computer — is actually packed with productivity-boosting potential. The onus just falls upon you to tap into it and transform that wasted-space default into an invaluable asset.

And man, are there options aplenty. I’ve tried out tons of New Tab page replacements over the years, and I’m constantly experimenting with new possibilities to keep (ahem) tabs on what’s out there and figure out what works best for me. And while there are lots of interesting ways you can repurpose your personal New Tab page — to anything from a multisource search panel to a cross-service document hub or even an Android-like widget-filled home screen — I’ve consistently found that, for my own style of working, nothing is as practical as a simple and effective notepad.

For a long time, I relied on a spectacular extension called Papier to provide that. It was as simple as could be and quite literally just changed the Chrome New Tab into a blank space in which you could type, with a small series of formatting commands and presentation options.

Papier, unfortunately, went kaput earlier this year (as a result of its creator evidently closing up shop and moving on to other things). That prompted me to search for a suitable replacement — a task that proved trickier than I expected, as most of the notepad-like New Tab page replacements out there were either too complicated (and thus not nearly as effective as Papier had been) or too abandoned (and thus not worth getting invested in only to have them vanish in the near future) for my tastes. No matter where I looked, nothing quite fit the bill.

And then, I stumbled onto something incredible. It’s an open-source extension that does everything Papier did and then some, all while maintaining the simplicity and ease-of-use that made Papier such a commendable tool. It’s simply fantastic — and it’s quickly become my most indispensable, frequently used tool for browser-based productivity.

Friends, Romans, internet-persons: Allow me to introduce you to the appropriately named My Notes.

Here’s how it works: By default, My Notes comes up only when you click its icon within your address bar — but the far more efficient way to use it is to set the extension as your New Tab page, which causes it to come up every time you open up a new tab. There’s a command to do that within the extension’s settings, which you can find by clicking the gear icon within its interface or by right-clicking its icon within the address bar and then selecting “Options” from the menu that comes up.

As for its appearance, at its core, My Notes is just a giant open text field for your notes — at least, once you collapse down its menu, which can be done with the handy hotkey of Ctrl-Shift-F.

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