For some reason, When I click view page source on an "empty" new tab in Firefox 55.0.2, there's bunch of HTML stuff (which I don't really care about).

However once I see:

<script type="text/javascript" src="chrome://browser/content/contentSearchUI.js"/>
<script type="text/javascript" src="chrome://browser/content/newtab/newTab.js"/>

In there my alarm bells go off. Why is there javascript? What is this?

Why is it there in the first place? (a supposedly EMPTY NEW TAB).

Why is there a reference to "chrome://browser/". What's going on?

  • 41
    "chrome" was generally used to refer to GUI interfaces (in browsers, specifically the browser UI portion) considerably prior to the existence of Google Chrome. Google chose to name their browser with the generic term, thus causing no end of confusion. This choice may have been just because they thought it sounded good. However, given the effects, there are many less benign hypothesizes as to the reason for the choice (e.g. they were lazy/unimaginative; deliberately benefit from people thinking the existing and continued use of the generic term "chrome" is referring to Google Chrome; etc.).
    – Makyen
    Aug 24, 2017 at 17:39
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    @Makyen that would be a great answer. There's a big field at the bottom of the page that says "Your Answer", you should type it there. Aug 24, 2017 at 19:31
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    It's just like user agents all start with mozilla even though those browsers have no relation to Firefox at all
    – phuclv
    Aug 25, 2017 at 1:53
  • 1
    See also: superuser.com/questions/517160/…
    – Bob
    Aug 25, 2017 at 6:54
  • 1
    See superuser.com/questions/364664/…
    – bwDraco
    Aug 26, 2017 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


@Darren nailed the reason why it's called 'chrome'. In Firefox's case, that's the general term for browser UI they've been using for over a decade. Only Firefox and addons can load chrome:// URLs.

To answer the other part of your question, unlike in ancient versions of Firefox, a New Tab page is not a truly empty page. It actually has a location: about:newtab - not about:blank. If you look at the top right, you may see a cogwheel icon. You probably have yours set to 'Show blank page'. However, you can always toggle it back to show your top sites, so that's why the scripts are there.

enter image description here

  • 2
    Is there a way to get a "real" about:blank then?
    – JBeurer
    Aug 24, 2017 at 12:41
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    Unfortunately I don't think you can configure that in Firefox any more (see bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1118285). You may be able to find an addon for it, but otherwise, you'd have to manually navigate to about:blank Aug 24, 2017 at 12:45
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    There seem to be plugins that do that
    – JAD
    Aug 24, 2017 at 14:04
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    Malware is why we can't have nice things. Aug 24, 2017 at 14:36
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    Your answer implies that using "chrome" to refer to the browser UI is a Mozilla/Firefox specific term. In reality, "chrome" was generally used to refer to GUI interfaces, and browser UI specifically, well prior to the existence of Google Chrome. Google chose to name their browser with the generic term, thus causing no end of confusion. Please edit to clarify that it's not just a Mozilla/Firefox term.
    – Makyen
    Aug 24, 2017 at 17:24

Answering part of your question, chrome in this instance is a reference to the parts of the browser interface surrounding the page (see here for more info).

In the context of a web browser it is the navigation, toolbar etc.

In the context of a website it is navigation, ad-space and other fixed aspects of the design.

The term "user interface chrome" is synonymous with "graphical user interface" or GUI for short, a term you are probably more familiar with.

It’s just unfortunate that Google’s browser happens to share the same name.

  • 13
    I knew this would start becoming an issue as soon as Google gave their browser a name, many years back. Aug 24, 2017 at 12:21
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    I don't think Google's browser "happens to share the same name." I'm pretty sure Google directly named their browser "Chrome" after the browser term. While working on the chrome, they decided it sounded like a cool name for the browser.
    – trlkly
    Aug 24, 2017 at 14:55
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    trlkly is right, @AndrewT. they explained on their release that they chose this name because they focused on minimizing the amount of browser UI. Glen Murphy, from Google, gives on quora.com/Why-is-Chrome-called-Chrome a more detailed answer, and noting other reasons why it may have been kept.
    – Ángel
    Aug 24, 2017 at 18:40
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    @AndrewT. Chrome came first. Chromium is named after it. (in both browsers and chemistry)
    – OrangeDog
    Aug 25, 2017 at 10:33
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    Since I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere and it appears that people are having trouble understanding the origins of the term, the usage of "chrome" (lower case) to refer to the more decorative, non-business-related bits of an app (such as the UI) comes from analogy to automobiles. The decorative chrome on a car exists only because users like shiny bits. It's completely unrelated to the important parts (e.g. the engine) but because it's highly visible to the user it influences their opinion of the car. (n.b. chrome isn't as popular on cars as it used to be; the analogy is showing its age)
    – A C
    Aug 25, 2017 at 17:24

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