Too many Chrome tabs open? Tame browser chaos with tab groups.

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Use Google Chrome Tab Groups to declutter your browser.
If you've got too many tabs open in Chrome, you can declutter things with the new Tab Groups feature.
Photo: Luca Bravo/Unsplash CC

Hey there, all you tab hoarders: Google Chrome just gave you a handy tool to bring some order to the nightmare lurking at the top of your web browser. A new Chrome feature lets you group tabs together with custom names to tame the chaos.

Unfortunately, it’s not completely obvious how to get in on the tab-grouping action. Here’s how to make it work for you.

Still experimental?

Google has been testing this feature for several months in Chrome Beta. And, although the company began rolling it out to all users this week, it’s still apparently regarded as an experimental feature (part of what Google calls Chrome Flags — maybe this will change as the rollout commences).

Anyway, as such, it’s disabled by default, and enabling it is less than straightforward. However, it’s not difficult to do. Simply go to the Chrome address bar, type in chrome://flags, then hit Enter.

On the Experiments page that loads, you should see the following: “WARNING: EXPERIMENTAL FEATURES AHEAD! By enabling these features, you could lose browser data or compromise your security or privacy. Enabled features apply to all users of this browser.”

So, obviously, only do this if you are willing to accept the risk. However, in my experience, using tab groups has been totally stable.

Ready to take the risk and enjoy the reward? Good.

How to enable tab groups in Google Chrome

In the Search flags box, type in “Tab Groups.” Then, from the dropdown menu, select Enabled. Finally, in the lower right corner of the page, click Relaunch to restart your browser. The next time Chrome loads, the tab groups feature will be ready to roll.

Here’s where the fun and utility start. Let’s say you’ve got seven work-related tabs open and want to group them all together. Right-click on one of them, then select Add Tab to Group > New Group. A small tab with a gray circle will pop up to the left of the tab you started with. Click on it, then type in a name for your group. (In this example, maybe “Work” would be appropriate.)

Then, if you like, tap one of the colored circles to give your new group its own visual identity. Let’s say you choose green. The small title tab will turn a vibrant green — it really will stand out in the thicket of open tabs cluttering up your browser. Plus, a green underscore will appear beneath the original tab you were working with.

Next, go to each of the other six work-related tabs that you want to group together one at a time. Right-click on one, then select Add Tab to Group > Work (where “Work” is the custom tab title you entered above). That tab will jump to the side of your first grouped tab. Rinse and repeat with your other work-related tabs — soon all seven will be lined up neatly in a row, with a crisp green line under them.

More fun with tab groups

You also can perform a couple of extra tab-management tricks once you enable tab groups in Chrome. Click on your colorful new title tab, and you’ll see several options in a pop-up menu. First off, you can rename the tab or change the color.

Other pop-up options include:

  • New Tab in Group: Add a new blank tab to your custom group.
  • Ungroup: Break up the party by disassociating the tabs.
  • Close Group: Shut things down entirely by closing all the tabs in the group.
  • Move Group to New Window: Pop the entire group of tabs to a new window. This proves especially helpful, since it lets you move the tabs so you can either a) ignore them and save them for later or b) focus on them right now.

You also can drag the entire group by clicking and holding the title tab. Plus, Google says you can “collapse and expand your tab groups, so it’s easier to see the ones you need to access.” In an animated GIF showing the feature, it looks like you simply click on the title tab to expand/collapse the group. However, this functionality doesn’t seem to work just yet. I’ve updated to the latest version of Chrome, but maybe it’s too early in the rollout.

All in all, the new tab groups feature makes Chrome much easier to use if you’re one of those people who perpetually keeps dozens of tabs open. (I know I am.)

And, yeah, yeah, I know you really should be using Safari on your Mac. It’s far more privacy-focused and much less of a battery buster.

However, great new features like tab groups keep me hooked on Chrome. (Poke around in Chrome Flags, and you might find even more cool features to experiment with.)