Drowning in browser tabs? Tame them with these extensions | Popular Science
Want More?

Drowning in browser tabs? Tame them with these extensions

Take control of tab overflow.

Browser tabs

Do more with your browser tabs.

David Nield

As you wander around the internet, you might leave a page or two running at once. Keeping multiple tabs open is a useful practice—it lets you cross-reference pages, save long articles for later reading, and remind yourself to check email. But when those tabs balloon in number from two to three to four dozen, you can easily get lost. That's not only bad for your attention span, but also eats into your computer's available memory, slowing it down.

Don't panic—we collected eight useful extensions to help tame your tabs. These let you save pages until a later time, mute certain windows while you're working on something else, and more. Install your favorites from this list and start browsing smarter.

1. OneTab

OneTab offers an extremely simple solution to tab management: When you click the extension's icon, it instantly hides all of your tabs. However, they live on in the OneTab interface—itself a lone browser window. If you clear different clusters of tabs at once, the extension preserves these groups. So you can recover your pages individually, in groups, or all at once.

This add-on keeps your desktop tidy and prevents your browser from eating up too much memory. It also comes with extra options to customize how you corral your wayward pages, including the abilities to filter out duplicate tabs and prevent pinned tabs from disappearing.

OneTab for Chrome and Firefox

2. Tabs Limiter With Queue

Tabs Limiter With Queue lets you deal with tabs you don't want to use immediately, but do want to revisit later, on an individual basis: Right-click on one, and you can close that window while saving it to a list that you can access at any time. Think of this add-on like a more granular version of OneTab, but with tight Google Chrome integration that makes it feel like a native feature.

To make tabs easier to find, you can keep them in separate queues within the extension's straightforward interface. Tabs Limiter With Queue also provides useful options like the ability to save a link to a queue rather than opening it in a new window. In fact, if you set a limit on the number of open tabs, anything you click after you've exceeded the limit will automatically enter a queue instead of opening. You can also filter out duplicate tabs and even preserve your queues when the browser restarts.

Tabs Limiter With Queue for Chrome

3. xTab

For the simplest solution to mushrooming browser pages, xTab restricts the number of open tabs. You don't get any fancy lists, link retrieval, or tab management here, just a hard limit. Once you reach that limit, whether you set it at 5 or 50, you can still open new tabs—but xTab will start closing older ones. And you get to choose the order in which these tabs close: the least recently used, the least often accessed, or the oldest. Or, instead of having the extension automatically close old tabs, you can have it block any new tabs from opening. This means you'll have to manually close an existing tab before you can open a new one.

The xTab method doesn't give you an easy way to retrieve closed tabs, so it should make you think twice about opening new ones. If it feels a little too brutal to you, bear in mind that pinned tabs and tabs you haven't yet viewed will be exempt from the cull.

xTab for Chrome

4. Tree Tabs

Tree Tabs won't limit your multitude of open tabs, but it gives you an alternative view that makes them easier to organize. While the tabs themselves appear in Firebox as usual, you can also access them through a sidebar. In this view, you get to arrange your tabs in a tree-like structure, putting some underneath others to create a hierarchy. You can even assign categories—such as sports, banking, or social media—to groups of tabs.

Within the Tree Tabs sidebar, you can also search through your tabs, save certain pages for later browsing, and reopen windows you just closed. It's an extremely useful map that points the way as you navigate through your tab forest.

Tree Tabs for Firefox

5. All Tabs Helper

Like Tree Tabs, All Tabs Helper opens a tab-viewing sidebar on the left of the Firefox interface. Although you can drag-and-drop tabs to reorder them in the list, you can't organize them into groups. However, within the All Tabs Helper sidebar, you can select multiple tabs at once (hold the Shift key and click), close windows (hit the cross icon next to an entry), and search for specific pages.

The extension also includes a useful duplicates finder, so you can tell if you've got the same tab open twice. And if you need to retrace your steps, it can restore a history of your open tabs, revealing any accidentally-closed windows.

All Tabs Helper for Firefox

6. Mute All Inactive Tabs

Reducing clutter isn't the only reason you need to control your tabs. When you have too many windows open, an annoying autoplaying video or audio clip can be nearly impossible to hunt down and silence. That's where Mute All Inactive Tabs comes in. As its name suggests, it will silence all the open browser tabs except for the one you're currently viewing.

If you really need to hear an inactive tab—maybe you're streaming some songs through it or playing a YouTube video in the background—then right-click on the tab header and choose to unmute it. When you switch to a different tab, the add-on will exempts that particular tab from its rules.

Mute All Inactive Tabs for Firefox

7. Recent Tab List

The previously mentioned extensions will only work on Chrome or Firefox. If you're working with macOS's default Safari web browser, you can turn to the Recent Tab List extension. It brings up a list of all open and recently-closed tabs so you can search through and organize them more easily.

When you install Recent Tab List, a new button will appear to the left of the address bar. Click this to see the open and recently-closed tabs. While you can't snooze or save the items on this list, you can quickly sift through them by typing a keyword into the search box at the top of the page. The add-on also lets you quickly close tabs you no longer need and open ones you do.

Recent Tab List for Safari

8. Tab Stack

Tab Stack for Safari has just one trick, but it's a good one: It moves the current tab to the far left of the open-tabs list, organizing the order so you always know where you are in your browser. This effectively moves the oldest and least-used tabs to the right-hand side of the interface, making it easier for you to spot and close down the tabs you're not really using.

The extension won't affect pinned tabs, so your most important pages will stay clamped to the left-hand side. Everything else will shift as you navigate from tab to tab. Not everyone needs this add-on, but if you keep so many tabs open that you can't read the blurb at the top of each (you know who you are), you'll find it invaluable.

Tab Stack for Safari

Latest News