Question

What is 'about:blank', and do I need to get rid of it?

Posted September 16, 2021 95 views
Linux BasicsGetting Started

Hi all,

I wanted to create this question/answer about a really popular topic - about:blank, what it is, is it harmful, should and could I get rid of it?

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1 answer

Why, I’m bringing this topic up

‘About:blank’ is something I like to tell people about and what it’s used for. I remember when I first saw the about:blank page and how baffled I felt, anyway, let’s get to it and uncover the dusty clouds around it.

First, let’s get something right off the bat to put your mind at ease, about:blank is not something bad. It’s not malware, malicious or anything of that sort. Yes, it can be a sign your computer is blocking something harmful but not necessary. I’m getting ahead of myself, let me first explain what is about and what it’s being used for.

What is about:

If we take a look at Wikipedia and the definition of about, it says the following - about is an internal URI scheme implemented in various Web browsers(Chrome, Firefox, Chromium, Safari and so on) to reveal internal state and built-in functions.

In other words, about: provides us information about our browser like addons we have installed, our browser history, components it’s used and so many more. If you ever feel like exporing it more, you can always type in your browser - about:about and take a look.

What is about:blank

So, what is about:blank? As you’ve already encountered it, about:blank is an empty page. The page appears when your browser has nothing for you to display. Alongside with that, in your browser and tab’s page title you can see the name being about:blank. It litarrly is a page with no contents, just blank, as it’s name suggests.

The more interesting question is why does it appear. Yes, I said it appears when your browser has nothing to display but when and how does this happen, when do we get to that state? Well, the about:blank page can be a desired outcome or in some cases a necessary outcome.

What does this mean? Well, there are a couple of common scenarios where you have about:blank:

  • Your browser is configured to display about:blank upon launch

  • Your browser or computer is blocking possible malware

I’m going to take a look at both and try to provide more information and examples about them.

Why do we use about:blank upon launching our browser

This is mostly a thing of the past but can still be useful nowadays. Let’s say you have limited bandwidth or a slow internet connection and you don’t want to load a page every time you launch your browser or go to the homepage, then about:blank would be the best solution. This would be most useful on a phone due to the bandwidth being limited there unless you are on a wi-fi network of course. Having your homepage configured to about:blank also prevents the browser from opening numerous tabs or windows from previous sessions. Another more trivial reason could be you just like the blank page and how it looks.

About:blank and preventing malware

We’ve already established about:blank is not something malicious or harmful. Having said that, I’ve pointed out about:blank as a result of your computer blocking possible malware. There are some antivirus and antimalware software that uses about:blank as a go-to option when they detect a bad website or URL. Basically what happens is your antivirus detects a malicious website, instead of loading the website exposing your system to malicious sources it redirects you to about:blank.

This doesn’t mean every time you are redirected to about:blank it’s something bad. There could be a million reasons behind this and usually if it’s a bad reason you were redirected to about:blank your software will tell you.

How to get rid of about:blank and should I

As we’ve gotten to this part, maybe you’ve already come to that conclusion yourself but about:blank is not something you can remove as it’s part of your browser. It’s like an essential part of it. Having said that, if you have your homepage configured to show about:blank you can always change it to something you like.

Set/Remove about:blank in my browser

You can always change the homepage from and to about:blank at any time you want.

Let’s take a look at how we can add about:blank to Chrome and Firefox

Chrome

You’ll need to open your Chrome browser, go to your settings menu and select “Settings”. Alternatively, you can use the about: scheme and type in “about:settings” in your browser.

  • In the search bar in “Settings” type “On start-up”

  • Select the “Open a specific page or set of pages.” option

  • Add “about:blank” as a site URL.

If you want to remove about:blank, you can do it from the same place however rather than adding it, when you are on the “Open a specific page or set of pages.” option remove it.

Firefox

Once you’ve opened Firefox, go to your settings and select “Settings”.

  • In the search bar in “Settings” type “New Windows and Tabs”

  • On the “New Windows and Tabs” setting, click the dropdown

  • Here you can select either “Custom URLs…” or “Blank Page”. If you select “Custom URLs..” you’ll need to add “about:blank” manually.

If you want to remove about:blank, all you need to do is go to the same place, if you want to use Firefox homepage, you can select it from the dropdown. Alternatively, you can choose the “Custom URLs…” option and add the pages you want to have.

Last words on about:blank

Some last words on the topic, About:blank is not something you would want to avoid or get rid of, it essentially helps in some cases and in others it’s just an empty page. All we can say is, it’s a feature created to help and should not cause any concerns.