We’ve all been there – you want to read a story, but you don’t have time right away. So you open it in a new tab and switch back to what you were doing. That process repeats and repeats until suddenly you have way too many tabs open and they’re all these little tiny spots that you can’t even read.
Modern browsers are not built for tab hoarders, people who keep hundreds of the things open and refuse to close them. There’s just not enough space on the top of your monitor to display tabs like Chrome does when there’s more than a dozen. Trust us, we found someone who did the math. Here’s how to fix that and handle a lot of tabs.
How to manage an excessive amount of tabs
The best way: Tree-Style Tabs for Firefox
The coolest way to do this is to take your taps from off the top of the browser and put them into a tree-style sidebar. The sidebar is a more efficient use of space when you have a dozen tabs open, and the indents indicate when a tab was opened from within another parent tab. It’s way easier to keep track of everything.
Unfortunately, Firefox is the only browser customizable to have a real tab sidebar like Tree=Style Tab. Chrome hard-codes its tabs at the top and has no plans to change that. If you want the full tab sidebar experience, it means using Mozilla.
Tree-Style Tab is cool because it has a ton of customization options. You can put the tabs on the left or right, change tab parent behavior or how they display. Every bit of control over tab display you’ve ever wanted is in the options (and if it’s not, Tab Mix Plus has it).
Chrome Tab Management
My favorite tab management solution for Chrome is OneTab, which puts a button in your browser bar that sucks all other open tabs into a single tab. Basically it closes each tab and remembers the URLs of them all so you can go back later to reopen them.
OneTab isn’t as customizable as Tree-Style Tab and Tab Mix Plus, and it doesn’t give you the sidebar tab experience, but it is incredibly useful for saving memory and keeping a minimum number of tabs open. In Chrome, that’s always useful.
The closest thing to a tab sidebar is Tab Outliner.
Safari can implement tree-style tabs somewhat well with the SafariStand, a plugin full of useful features for making Safari better.
One of those is a decently implemented tab sidebar. It’s not as nice as the Firefox version (for one, it doesn’t hide the official tab bar), but it’s a decent start.
Internet Explorer and Opera
IE and Opera do not support tabs on the side in a good fashion. IE is far too primitive for such extensions and really, if you’re reading about tree-style tabs then you probably know not to use it.
Opera used to have the feature before rewriting to use a Chromium base. No more tree-style tabs, but hey, at least you can use Chrome extensions like Tab Outliner.
Thanks to Vox for the article idea, and for pointing me toward Tree-Style Tab. It’s been very useful in Firefox. During the course of writing this article I turned tree-style tabs back on and had nine open at once and it felt great. Putting tabs in the sidebar removes the stress and feeling of messiness you yet from opening a dozen tabs when they’re at the top of the window and scrunching down bit by bit.
Putting tabs in a sidebar actually rewards you for opening a lot of them because they take up the sidebar space and make it look like you’re using your screen to its fullest capacity. For tab junkies, it’s pretty great.