I have 100 Chrome tabs open, but you’d never know it with this sneaky trick

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tabs or notes in books

MirageC/Getty Images

Panepistabomania isn’t yet listed in psychiatry’s comprehensive mental health classifications, the DSM-5 and ICD-11. Even so, many of us, including me — and if you’re reading this — probably you, suffer from it.

Derived from the Greek “παν” (pan, meaning “all”), “επιστήμη” (epistēmē, meaning “knowledge”), “tab” (meaning, you know, tabs), and “μανία” (the Greek word for mania), panepistabomania — if it were a real term and not something I just made up — suggests an obsession with acquiring all-encompassing knowledge through excessive open tabs.

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Keep reading, my friends. Because I’m going to cure you of panepistabomania — or at least show you a way to hide your filthy little habit from your friends and family.

To get started in this new therapeutic modality, I’m going to reiterate how to use a feature that’s been around for a while. But you need to do this before you can progress to higher levels of the cure. To be fair, I’m not sure whether I’m curing you or enabling you. Either way, you’ll thank me.

How to tame your Chrome tabs

Admit it, this looks familiar:

bulk-tabs

Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Above is what my current open tab list looked like before I used the organizational techniques I’m sharing in this article. Also, I’m using a fresh Chrome profile for screenshots because I have a lot in my Chrome setup that’s confidential to clients and project partners.

One good way to get started is to group all your tabs into groups. If you don’t have any tab groups, right-click the tab and choose Add Tab to New Group (as shown at 1 below). Then give the group a name (shown at 2) and a color (shown at 3). To add a tab to an existing group, click Add Tab to Group, and then choose the group (shown at 4).

tab-groups

Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

I’m naming my tab group “YouTube” because I collect a lot of YouTube videos to watch later. And yes, I know YouTube has a Watch Later option. I also know you can put YouTube videos into the Chrome reading list. In this article, I’m not focusing on recommended ways to curate your content. I’m simply trying to help you deal with your panepistabomania.

Put simply: Most of us just like tabs better.

I tend to use four tab groups. They are:

  • AI Reading: This is for all the articles I want to read on AI, which is an area I track. I also put many of these in Pocket, but usually after I read them.
  • YouTube: As mentioned previously, I have a ton of YouTube videos in open tabs. That’s not necessarily good for Chrome or the overall health of the human race, but I do it.
  • Documentary: This is a section for YouTube documentaries that are at least an hour long. Right now, there are a bunch of Modern Marvels from the History Channel, and a six-part retrospective on the reign of Tony Blair as England’s prime minister. (I’m a hoot at parties.)
  • ZDNET: All the things I’m working on for ZDNET.

Nice and neat:

my-tab-groups

Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Tab groups alone reduce tab bar clutter. But what if you want to be able to get to your tab groups on your other Chrome machines? That’s next.

Chrome recently added the ability to sync and save your tab groups between Chrome instances. I often use this to keep my tabs in sync between my laptop and my desktop. It can be incredibly useful.

To initiate the process, just right-click any of your tab groups, and choose Save Group (shown below at 1).

sync

Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Notice (at 2 above) that before you save a group, the area to the left of the bookmark bar will have normal bookmarks (or, in this demo profile, is empty). Once the tab group is turned on, there are three more things to notice:

  • There’s now a button for the group located on the bookmark bar (shown at 3).
  • The tab itself has a chasing arrows symbol (shown at 4).
  • The Save Group toggle is enabled on the drop-down (shown at 5).

Now, if you make a change to a tab group in one Chrome instance, it will be reflected in your other Chrome instances (as long as you’re logged into the same profile).

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One thing to remember (this caught me a few times): Tabs outside tab groups won’t sync. So if you want the tabs to be visible on your other machines, they’ll need to be in your saved groups. If you do want to see your random open tabs from other computers, this tutorial will show you how.

It is unfortunate that once you save your tab groups for syncing, it creates duplicate user interface elements that take up the precious space of your toolbars. But that’s life, I guess.

dups

Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

The final stage of this hack is hiding your tab groups. First, I’ll show you how to do it, then I’ll discuss some performance implications.

To hide a group, right-click on its name in the tab area (shown below at 1) and click Hide Group (shown at 2). As you can see, the tab group goes away (shown at 3).

hide-group

Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

This practice presents some performance implications. Not only does hiding a group completely pull your tab groups out of the tab area, but it also backgrounds all the open tabs from that group.

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You can reopen the group merely by clicking the tab group’s name on the bookmark bar, but sometimes the tabs won’t reopen properly and you have to go through and refresh each tab individually, as shown below.

frowns

Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

It doesn’t always happen, and I’ve found it’s far more common with YouTube videos (I have nearly 100 in that group) than with regular web pages. As such, I still find the hide feature quite useful.

If your coworkers complain about their inability to get control of their tabs, or point out your profligate tab habit, go ahead and group all your open tabs and hide the tab groups. You can then claim to be the most tab-virtuous of them all. Remember, you can also hide your bookmark bar if you want no evidence to appear on your screen about any tab groups, hidden or otherwise.

virtue

Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Personally, I like to just pin Gmail as my only open tab, and then show off as if I have complete control over my panepistabomania.

Then, when nobody is around, I’ll click my hidden tab groups, reopen everything, and glory in all my tabs. Tabs, I tell you. I have tabs! So many sweet, sweet tabs. Ha-ha-ha-ha!

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I can stop anytime I want. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

What about you? Do you have too many open tabs? Don’t worry, this is a safe space. You can confess your panepistabomania. We’re all friends here.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to subscribe to my weekly update newsletter on Substack, and follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.





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