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What is About Blank and Why Do I See it?

Posted by Jamie on April 19, 2019

You should rarely, if ever, see About:Blank. It’s an empty browser page generated by the browser when something goes wrong with an About command. It isn’t dangerous, is not a virus or malware and isn’t a sign of something more serious. It’s just an error that has occurred within the browser.

There is a known error with Chrome that can display About:Blank but that is easily fixed. There is also a situation with malware that can create About:Blank popup windows within a browser when it is removed or partially removed, which is also easily fixed.

If you see About:Blank once or twice and never again, it is nothing to worry about. If you continually see it, you have a little work to do.

According to Wikipedia, About is part of the URI scheme used in all browsers to try to standardize how they work. It’s an about page as the name suggests but the Blank part is an empty page. About requests are made internally, so the browser is not getting the page from the internet but from within itself. Usually, querying About in a browser would generate a page about the browser. If something gets in the way of that interpretation, you may see a blank page.

If you keep seeing About:Blank, something may be wrong with your browser configuration or you may have had malware. Neither situation is terminal and can be easily addressed.

Browser issues causing About:Blank

As mentioned, there is a known issue with Chrome that can cause About:Blank to appear when you open it. This is usually down to a corruption in the page cache that causes the browser to call this page instead of a new one. You can clear this by cleaning your browsing data.

Even if you don’t use Chrome, if you keep seeing a blank page, these methods should still work.

  1. Open Chrome if it isn’t already.
  2. Select the menu and More Tools.
  3. Select Clear Browsing Data.
  4. Select All Time from the dropdown menu.
  5. Check all boxes in both the Basic and Advanced tabs.
  6. Select Clear Data.

You can shortcut to this with Ctrl + Shift + Delete if you prefer. Either way, delete everything there is to delete and restart Chrome. You should no longer see About:Blank.

If clearing the cache doesn’t work, you could try disabling extensions. If you have an out of date extension or have added a new one just before you began seeing About:Blank, it may be causing the browser to misbehave.

  1. Open Chrome and select the three dot menu icon.
  2. Select More Tools and Extensions.
  3. Disable one or more by unchecking the box.

Troubleshooting extensions is a matter of trial and error. You can either disable them one at a time and retest while enabling each one individually or disable them all and enable them one at a time. As long as you retest between enabling each individual extension you should quickly find the one playing up.

If that doesn’t work either, you can either reset Chrome or other browser or uninstall and reinstall.

  1. To reset Chrome, open the menu and select Settings.
  2. Scroll down and select Advanced.
  3. Scroll down to Restore settings to their original defaults and select it.
  4. Select Reset Settings.

This will clear out any customizations, extensions and any changes you have made to your browser. It’s like a factory restore on a phone.

About:Blank linked to malware

There are instances when incomplete malware removal can result in About:Blank pages or popups with About:Blank appearing. This is where the active part of the malware has been removed but the instruction embedded in the browser remains. It tells the browser to open a popup but there is no further instruction from the malware because it has been removed.

It isn’t dangerous but it can be annoying.

You should run a full malware scan and antivirus scan to remove every trace of the malware from your system. Most likely, the worst is gone but your previous scan didn’t capture everything.

If you don’t already use Malwarebytes, download and install it. Run a full scan and let it clean anything it finds. Then run a full antivirus scan using your installed program. Make it a full scan, not an intelligent scan or key areas scan. It will take a couple of hours at least so best let it run overnight or while you’re at work or school.

This should remove any remnants of the malware from your computer and stop About:Blank appearing.

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