How to configure chrome startup and homepage

Last Updated on March 22, 2022

To configure Google Chrome homepage, Startup page (restore) and new tab page setting, you can either use GPO or registry.

In one of my recent Citrix project, I observed that people are little confused (well, you might not be) with how chrome’s startup or restore page is different from homepage, and how homepage in Chrome is different from Internet Explorer’s homepage. So, I decided to write about this short topic. The content of this article is valid for all type of Google chrome deployments, but not just limited to Citrix.

List of chrome Enterprise policies is available here. For a better understanding of Chrome policy management, read this page.

Chrome policy management

On an end-user device, type Chrome://policy to see all google chrome policies currently in effect on that device. This is a really good feature that can help in troubleshooting chrome related issues – thanks to Chromium project. Read more about it right here.

Chrome policies within chrome

For windows OS, a bundle, which consists of chrome standalone installer (64-bit msi), ADM templates, admx-adml files and a list of applicable registry settings, can be downloaded from Chrome Enterprise download page.

Download Chrome bundle for Windows

Once download, extract all the files and go to GoogleChromeEnterpriseBundle64/Configuration/examples. Chrome.reg contains the list of all applicable google chrome registry settings.

Chrome list of registry settings

Chrome Startup page, Home page, and New Tab page by using Registry

To modify or create google chrome homepage registry settings, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Google\Chrome and configure HomepageLocation and/or HomepageIsNewTabPage registry settings.

  • HomepageLocation (REG_SZ) = <URL> to set a webpage on home button in Chrome.
  • If you want the home button to open a blank page, which in google chrome’s terminology is chrome://newtab then set HomepageIsNewTabPage (DWORD) = 1 and don’t use HomepageLocation.
    • If you set both, HomepageIsNewTabPage will win, which means a blank page (chrome://newtab) will be set to home button.
  • If you have configured HomepageLocation then users can go to Chrome://settings/appearance and change the home button URL. To lock it down, configure HomepageLocation along with  HomepageIsNewTabPage (DWORD) = 0.
    • If you only use HomepageIsNewTabPage with either 0 or 1 then users cannot modify it from appearance section of chrome settings as it remains locked down.
  • To hide the home button completely, set ShowHomeButton (DWORD) = 0.
Configure Chrome startup and homepage
Google chrome home page setting

To modify or create google chrome startup page registry settings go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Google\Chrome and configure RestoreOnStartup and RestoreOnStartupURLs registry settings.

A startup page is a webpage that opens up when Chrome is launched.

  • RestoreOnStartup (DWORD) = 4, where,
    • 5 = Open New Tab Page
    • 1 = Restore the last session
    • 4 = Open a list of URLs
Google Chrome Startup page registry setting
  • Now create a new Key by the name RestoreOnStartupURLs.
  • 1 (REG_SZ) = <URL>
  • If you want more than one webpage to open up on chrome startup then add more values starting with 2 and so on.
Configure Chrome startup and homepage

To modify or create google chrome new tab registry settings go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Google\Chrome and configure NewTabPageLocation registry setting.

By default, when you click on +  to open a new tab, it opens chrome://newtab.

  • NewTabPageLocation (REG_SZ) = <URL>
Chrome New tab page registry location

Chrome Startup, Homepage, and New Tab page by using Group Policies

Once the files from the downloaded Google chrome bundle have been extracted, go to GoogleChromeEnterpriseBundle64/Configuration/admx and copy chrome.admx and google.admx to the policy definition folder inside sysvol directory of your domain. Then also copy over corresponding adml files.

chrome.admx and google.admx

Now edit an existing one or create a new group policy. Go to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Google/Google Chrome/Startup, Home page and New Tab page.

Configure Chrome startup and homepage

In previous version of chrome admx, those 6 settings used to be in different directories. Same settings are also available in user configuration.

To configure the chrome home page on home button, click Configure the home page URL, enable it and provide a home page URL. Click Apply and then OK.

Configure Chrome startup and homepage

Now to disallow users from changing the home page URL, open Use New Tab Page as homepage and disable it.

  • Alternatively, you can enable this setting and leave “Configure the home page URL” as Not configured.
  • If you enable “Use New Tab Page as homepage” then home button will be set to chrome://newtab. It will also lock down the home page option in appearance section of chrome settings so users cannot change it themselves.
  • If you enable both “Use New Tab Page as homepage” and “Configure the home page URL” then former will take precedence.
Google Chrome Use New Tab page as homepage

If you want to hide/show home button on the toolbar then open Show Home button on toolbar. Enabling it will lockdown this feature in Chrome settings. Not configured means home button will show up but users can control its appearance from chrome settings. Disabling the home button will hide it from the toolbar and users will not be able to change it themselves.

Google Chrome Show Home button on toolbar

To configure startup page, open Action on startup, enable it and select Open a list of URLs in the drop down. Click Apply and then OK. If this setting is set (Enabled or Disabled) then users will not be able to change the startup behavior themselves. For more information about Action on startup, visit google documentation.

Configure Chrome startup and homepage

Now open URLs to open on startup and define one or more than one URLs to open up on Google Chrome start up. If more than one URLs are defined then they will open up in separate tabs. Click Apply and then OK.

Google Chrome URLs to open on startup group policy setting

By default, every tab is chrome://newtab. This can be changed by enabling Configure the New Tab page URL to a certain webpage.

Google Chrome Configure the New Tab page URL

You see it’s so simple to configure Chrome startup and homepage in Citrix environment or any other VDI or endpoint deployments.

If Google chrome is a published application then read how to control placement of application shortcuts in Citrix.

3 thoughts on “How to configure chrome startup and homepage

  1. Good read! In terms of UPM, what would you recommended excluding, sync’ing etc.? I know there’s articles on that already, just wondering since Chromium browsers evolve over time, if you might have revised recently?

    1. Here is my list consolidated from different sources – notably Carl Stalhood, Citrix Discussion Forum, and Matthias Schlimm.

      1. Computer Configuration/Policies/Administrative Templates/Citrix Components/Profile Management/File system/Enable Default Exclusion List – directories

      !ctx_localappdata!\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache = enable
      !ctx_localappdata!\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cached Theme Images = enable
      !ctx_localappdata!\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\JumpListIcons = enable
      !ctx_localappdata!\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\JumpListIconsOld = enable

      2. Computer Configuration/Policies/Administrative Templates/Citrix Components/Profile Management/File system/Exclusion list – directories

      AppData\Local\Google\Software Reporter Tool
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Media Cache
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Subresource Filter
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\PepperFlash
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\pnacl
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Application Cache
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cached Theme Images
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Code Cache
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Crashpad
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\GPU Cache
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\JumpListIcons
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\JumpListIconsOld
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Local Extension Settings
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Sync Data
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Sync Data Backup

      3. Computer Configuration/Policies/Administrative Templates/Citrix Components/Profile Management/File system/Synchronization/Files to Synchronize

      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\First Run
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Local State
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Bookmarks
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Favicons
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\History
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Preferences
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Login Data

      4. Computer Configuration/Policies/Administrative Templates/Citrix Components/Profile Management/File system/Synchronization

      AppData\Roaming\Google\Chrome\UserData\Default

      These three are only needed if you didn’t include the entire Chrome User Data Default folder:

      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Login Data
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Last Session

      Chrome and Outlook Signature:
      For Windows 10 1709 and newer, you might have to add Outlook Signatures and Chrome to the Folders to Mirror setting. Leave these folders in Folders to Synchronize, but also add them to Folders to Mirror.

      AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Signatures
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\First Run
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Local State
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Bookmarks
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Favicons
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\History
      AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Preferences

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