Question

How many tabs are open in your browser right now—and how do you manage tab overload?

It can be hard to find the page you want when you have too many tabs open in your browser, especially if you have multiple browsers open. Then you've often got multiple browser sessions open between your computer, phone, and other devices.

What are your tricks to keep up with it all and not lose yourself among all the tabs?

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thatbberg's avatar
2 years ago
Training yourself to curate, not hoard

I only have 2 tabs open right now, this one and the Gmail tab I clicked through from. Nowadays I don't have more tabs open than the current task requires. For things like content research, that does get to higher numbers like 5-10 tabs at a time, but most of the time I have 1-3 open.

This is the end of a LONG journey with honing my focus while working in browsers, though. And honestly it was born out of necessity - I was on a slow work computer that couldn't handle more than a few tabs without a noticeable slowdown. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

But here are the different steps I've taken over time to change the way I work.

It started with using Chrome plugins like OneTab and The Great Suspender. The Great Suspender would "put tabs to sleep" after I hadn't interacted with them in awhile, which would signal to myself it's not something I'm actively working on. So when I would notice a tab get suspended, I'd save it to OneTab and close it out until I needed/wanted it again.

Eventually, I stopped opening as many tabs and started closing them when I was done with them for the moment, and didn't need those tools as much.

These days, I use Notion as my "second brain" so whenever I have a tab open I don't need at the moment, I save it there, either to my Inbox or dedicated Web Bookmarks database, both of which I review regularly.

It was all about starting with small changes and letting them snowball from there.

7 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @thatbberg )
2 years ago

That's really neat, thanks for sharing your journey! It's funny, in part this is what bookmarks were designed to solve, but then over time it seems like it got easier to just google stuff again everything you need it—and then as stuff gets harder and harder to find, it's easier to just leave tabs open. Perhaps we've accidentally come full circle.

2 points
antoine_mor's avatar
2 years ago
Leverage your browser!

I believe the number of tabs you have open comes down to your overall browser management and setup. Browsers like Chrome are incredibly powerful and have a whole bunch of features to help you there.

"Persons" are extremely powerful. They're basically browser profiles. I have one for my internal-facing work, another one for the external-facing part of my work (i.e. presenting to partner or clients), and another one for my personal stuff. Each profile has its own bookmark bar, set of extensions, etc. This allows me to switch between different work modes and keep things separate without 100 tabs.

That's what my work profile looks like: https://i.imgur.com/jHkJaAH.png

  • 3 Pinned tabs to always find what's important: Email (+ strong ethics to not check it out every minute), Calendar + Task management (Sunsama, check it out!) and Salesforce.
  • Carefully selected and labeled bookmarks in the Bookmark Bar to quickly open things I only need punctually, and strong browser ethic to close those out before I move on to something else. Bookmarks bar only displayed on empty tabs to keep things clear, or Cmd Shift B.
  • Browser extensions for Social (Buffer) and Reading (Pocket) that are easily accessible. The rest is hidden in the extensions menu. Saves me from opening a whole bunch of new tabs.
  • New tab page: I use Sketchpad which displays a small app when I open up a new tab with Cmd T. It has a good combination of notes, tasks (I don't use that) and presents the Salesforce records I need to have in mind at the moment.
  • Search engines: allow you to assign a shortcut and a URL with custom parameters for the searches you do often. E.g. gd contract opens a Google Drive search for the work "contract" incredibly useful.
7 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @antoine_mor )
2 years ago

That's a great idea to split tasks by persona. It's like your bookmark bar ends up being a tab bar of sorts without having to have everything open and running.

Custom search engines are so helpful—though I tend to use the to search public-facing content. Great idea to use that to search inside apps.

Sunsama looks pretty cool—what do you like most about it?

1 point
scottwwilliams's avatar
2 years ago
Workona is a lifesaver for me

I run a brand consulting firm and have to utilize services/Web apps that are in use by our clients, not to mention the ones in use by my firm. So day-to-day I may have in excess of over 100 tabs open, which is untenable. Over time, I had cobbled together a variety of solutions but none were efficient. I've also tried myriad apps (bookmark managers, tab managers and app managers like Station), some of which have helped (I was a Station user for about a year).

Then about 18 months ago I found Workona on Product Hunt and it has been life-changing for me. If I had created an app specifically to solve my problem, I don't think I would have come up w/ something as good as Workona. It allows me to create and organize workspaces specific to any activity required (client space, project space, research space, personal spaces, etc.). I can now jump from space to space without worrying about memory overhead. Just an amazing product.

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @scottwwilliams )
2 years ago

Workona does look rather handy. Do you find it takes much time and mental overhead to organize stuff into workspaces?

I think that search + create new document menu looks the most tempting, like a mini Alfred for web apps. May have to try it just for that.

1 point
adamdlurie's avatar
2 years ago
Go nuts

Generally, I go absolutely nuts on the tabs (as of this writing, i have 44 open).

Then at the end of the day I go through all of them really quickly to make sure there nothing in-progress or needed need for immediate use later (in which case it goes to a bookmark folder). If not, I close the window and rest assured that Session Buddy saved everything anyway.

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @adamdlurie )
2 years ago

Ah that's clever. I use a similar approach with my desktop and downloads folders—they can fill up during the day as I'm working on stuff, but then I always clean them out in the evening, leaving only what needs worked on still tomorrow.

1 point
Riley_S_Rodgers's avatar
2 years ago
Too many.

I am guilty of having way too many tabs up, as in three chrome windows all full so the next tab gets lost (100+ in total), but there are so many great articles to read! I recently met with this company which seems to be similar to what @scottwwilliams mentioned about workana - https://getstack.app/. Stack hasn't become a go-to for me, but certainly is an option for those who want to have a split between "work" and "not work" with their tabs.

I try to find days to catch up on reading but then quickly get too many tabs again, pocket and other solutions haven't worked for me but I'm open to any suggestions!

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @Riley_S_Rodgers )
2 years ago

You might win with 100+ tabs!

Stack looks fascinating ... though not certain if it'd help with the tab overload problem or make things worse. Somehow reminds me of iPad split-screen multitasking.

2 points
kirubakaran's avatar
2 years ago
I'm building Histre.com to solve this

"Too many tabs" is just one of the many "information flow" issues we face. With the right tool, all the effort we put into processing information everyday as we go about our work will be preserved and put to use for ourselves. That's the problem I'm solving with Histre. Our browsing path is laid out as a tree, which always gives you context of where you are, so you don't need hundreds of tabs open. Search is fast. You can take notes on the important links, collect them into notebooks, share, etc. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

4 points
kirubakaran's avatar
@kirubakaran (replying to @kirubakaran )
2 years ago
3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @kirubakaran )
2 years ago

Oh interesting. Just learned recently that the first tabbed browser, InternetWorks, apparently used tabs as breadcrumbs of sorts, so the tabs showed the pages you'd visited previously.

So is this a Chrome extension?

1 point
kirubakaran's avatar
@kirubakaran (replying to @maguay )
2 years ago

Thanks for checking it out @maguay

Histre has Chrome and Firefox extensions to get this data. Histre itself is a webapp that has a lot more functionality than helping people manage tabs.

Personally I use "taking notes on a link and tagging them" feature the most. I share a few notebooks with my friends. When I add notes to the notebook, they get notified.

Hope you try it out!

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @kirubakaran )
2 years ago

That does sound useful, in the vein of bookmarking but with more detail about why you bookmarked that page!

1 point
SteveMathew's avatar
2 years ago
The Great Suspender and Toby For Tabs

Tried many things over the years, but as I open a lot of tabs, I had to find solutions.

The first problem to solve is memory management as idle Chrome tabs chomp RAM. The Great Suspender does exactly this. After a time the tab goes to sleep (stays open) and releases the memory and clears the page (and any rampant scripts running). All you need to do is click on the refresh when you're ready to resume using the page.

Then the next problem is grouping bundles of tabs that go together (a project or a task you're working on). Maybe also, you don't want to close them all because they were a mission to locate and open in the first place. Enter Toby For Tabs. It's way nicer to use than bookmarks. Also, Toby for Tabs creates a "landing page" which you see each time a new tab opens (so easy access to the links you need).

4 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @SteveMathew )
2 years ago

Pretty sure Toby is one I'd tried in the past. Do you spend much time in making tab sets to open for specific workflows, or use it mostly as a way to keep links around without keeping all the tabs open?

1 point
SteveMathew's avatar
@SteveMathew (replying to @maguay )
2 years ago

I don't make a lot of new tab sets - I have created about 20 to 30 collections which I reuse a lot - adding and pruning links to them as the needs change.

2 points
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