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I'm using Chrome on my Android tablet. The new tab page contains 8 shortcuts (pretty much as in Chrome for Windows). In Windows however, I can configure the shortcuts: one of the 10 positions is reserved for "Add shortcut" action, so if I would like to replace a shortcut, I would add a new link and delete the old one. Additionally, I could rearrange the existing icons using a mouse. I cannot figure out how to configure these shortcuts in Android.

The first 8 shortcuts were added automatically using the first sites visited. I would say that Chrome eventually (very rarely) replaces shortcuts based on its internal algorithm, but recently I decided to remove several shortcuts and replace them with specific links. Here is the problem: while I deleted undesired links, I cannot select what would be used instead. What is even worse: instead of direct links to other sites Chrome uses links to google.com with recent (and not very recent) search queries. I'm deleting these links, but Chrome adds more junk with links to other Google queries. The algorithm is unusually stupid, as it prefers queries that I made once to the sites I'm visiting on an everyday basis.

The context menu offers only "Open in new tab in group", "Open in incognito tab", " Download link", and "Remove" options. How can I configure the links on the new tab page?

Update: the answer here calls these thumbnails "Most Visited", but as I clearly show in my question, the links Chrome uses to replace the deleted thumbnails are definitely not "most visited", but visited only once. What's wrong with my Chrome?

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  • Related/possible duplicate: Add specific website to Chrome's New Tab Page.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 8:23
  • @AndrewT. in that answer the thumbnails are called "Most Visited". In my question I'm showing that the links Chrome adds are definitely not "most visited" but visited only once. I would like to figure out what's wrong with my Chrome. Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 8:39
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    I should have been clearer. The duplicate from that question (and also a more updated answer) shows how to manage the sites by modifying Chrome's app data directly, but it needs root access. That said, the current behavior is the same as I observe: it will store the most visited and recently visited sites, so there's really "nothing wrong" with your Chrome, except that it might come as an unexpected behavior implemented by Google.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 8:49
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    The "most visited" and "recently visited" strategy doesn't explain my observation: I've tried to visit some sites several times (and these visits are recent), but Chrome ignores my behavior and adds crap. Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 9:07
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    Yeah, it seems the algorithm is more complex than I thought. I haven't explored it, though the same feature is also on Chromium (open source, the source for Chrome), so anyone can try exploring it. On the other hand, looks like the behavior is also buggy in Chromium itself: Brave - Searches appearing in top sites, Brave - New Tab page injecting searches into "Top pages" widget, but I'm afraid this is getting off-topic.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 9:22

1 Answer 1

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Your main concern has been raised in Google community four years ago but with no answers and the question is locked Chrome-On-Android: Possible To Manually Add Shortcuts On New-Tab Page?

As mentioned in the comments, it is possible to add shortcuts on a rooted device. Also the algorithm is not transparent and apparently buggy, so that's the way it is implemented and nothing wrong with your Chrome.

However, a part answer relating to search queries:

What is even worse: instead of direct links to other sites Chrome uses links to google.com with recent (and not very recent) search queries. I'm deleting these links, but Chrome adds more junk with links to other Google queries

To avoid search queries showing up in home page use this flag (copy-paste) chrome://flags/#organic-repeatable-queries

You will get options like this:

Choose disabled and you won't have search queries showing up as home page shortcuts (On the contrary, if you want them, choose other options available).

Source: This answer from Google support.

Since flags are often modified/disappear with various Chrome versions, this is tested on Chrome 116.0.5845.163 (latest on Play Store for me).

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