Get more work doneWhen you first boot up your computer in the morning, you likely go through a rather similar routine for each work day. And since so many apps are now run in the cloud, almost the entirety of your work day can be handled through the confines of a web browser. You might read your email, check up on your social media, and have a look at the latest news through your favorite RSS feeds.

If you tend to require the same information in the morning and you tend to open the same websites as the day goes on, wouldn’t it make sense if you had customizable start pages that featured this content front and center? Wouldn’t it be so much faster than having to bury yourself knee-deep in bookmarks and wade through too many browser tabs to get your quick updates on stocks, weather, or your to-do list?

Even though iGoogle was killed off a few years ago, you still have several options for start pages you can populate to suit your specific needs and preferences.

iChrome

A colorful Google Chrome extension

A colorful Google Chrome extension

If the whole point of customizable start pages is to save your time, then you simply cannot be bothered with slow load times and unresponsive widgets. The iChrome extension for the Google Chrome web browser is billed as “lightning fast.” It offers a powerful dashboard that you can fill with your choice of almost 50 widgets and personalize with thousands of backgrounds. Widgets include bookmarks, recently closed tabs, weather and more. Just drag and drop.

My Yahoo!

Yes, Yahoo! is still relevant, especially if it's yours

Yes, Yahoo! is still relevant, especially if it's yours

I know. Yahoo! isn’t as “cool” as Google might be and you might not know too many people who still use Yahoo! for mail, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss the company’s attractive My Yahoo! customized homepage. In addition to handling RSS feeds (complete with post thumbnails if you want) and streams of data from Yahoo!’s varied sources, you can use the mail widget for your Gmail too. Most widgets can be configured to be “full” or “compact” and they’re all arranged in the number of columns you desire.

Protopage

Multiple customizable start pages in one place

Multiple customizable start pages in one place

What if you want not just one start page for your at-a-glance information throughout the day, but you actually need several customizable start pages to organize the different aspects of your work (and personal) life? Protopage can do that and so much more. Unlike similar solutions, the widgets here don’t have pre-defined sizes. You can grab the lower-right corner and drag them to whatever size you like. The width is still contained within the column, but you can make widgets more than one column wide if you want. The integrated multi-search bar is a great feature to have too.

Start.me

Get started the right way in Chrome

Get started the right way in Chrome

Perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing choices on this list is start.me, available as an easy-to-use Chrome extension. Each time you open a new tab in Chrome, this is what you’ll see. There’s quick access to your favorite news feeds, as well as the notes and web services that you want to use. Bookmarks can be gathered together in widgets for ease of organization and it can all integrate with Google Apps and other cloud services too. You can even embed videos and webpages.

uStart.org

Interactive widgets and resizable RSS feeds

Interactive widgets and resizable RSS feeds

The widgets in uStart.org don’t just sit there and display information, though you can certainly use them for that. They can also be more interactive with support for notes and an interactive calendar, for example. Beyond your choice of RSS subscriptions, the widgets of which can be customized for length and size, there are customizable widgets for currency, social media, cloud storage and more. There are also integrated tools like a calculator or, if you’ve got some time to kill, browser-based games. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, right?

Image credit: Intel Free Press / Flickr

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