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Heyday's Guide to Tab and Browser Management

It all started so well — a new day and a fresh browser window. You answer an email or two. You jump on GitHub, Airtable, Jira, or Figma. You take a second to recharge — read Substack, check Twitter, and open a meme your friend sent you. Then it’s back to work, with plenty of new Google docs to check over. Before you know it, you’re 30 tabs deep and it’s not even midday. You don’t know what’s where and you’re stressing out.

It’s during times like these that you need to know a thing or two about good tab and browser management. We’re all pulled in a lot of different directions during the day, and our browser becomes a mirror of our minds. And, like our minds, our browsers work best when they’re kept organized. Knowing your way around your internet browser makes for easier browsing, better tab management, and fewer instances of lost information.

Read on and you’ll never again be stuck wondering how to get your tabs back, how to arrange your tabs, or how to get them arranged in that nifty vertical format.

How to switch tabs

It helps to know how to switch easily across tabs, especially if you tend to work with a lot of tabs open at the same time. In most browsers (including Chrome, Safari, and Firefox), you can quickly switch tabs with your keyboard. Simply use the following method:

  • On a Windows keyboard, use Ctrl + [Number] to move to that tab
  • On a Mac keyboard, use Command + [Number] to move to that tab

If you’re looking for a particular tab in Chrome, use Chrome’s Tab Switch feature. Enable Tab Switch on your Chrome browser by copying and pasting the following URL into your search bar:

chrome://flags/#omnibox-tab-switch-suggestions

You’ll be taken to a new screen titled “Omnibox switch to tab suggestion” highlighted in yellow at the top of it. Next, click the dropdown on the right of your screen, and select “Enabled.” Then relaunch your browser.

Chrome omibox, Chrome omnibox switch to tab suggestions highlighted

Source: Chrome (Flags menu)

Using Tab Switch, you can type in a keyword that relates to the tab you’re looking for. Let’s say you’ve got several Webflow tabs open but want to find the one that relates to typed and full-page JS. By entering “typed and full-page JS” in your search bar with Tab Switch enabled, you get a suggestion from Chrome.

Chrome tab bar

Source: Chrome

There’s your tab! Now all you have to do is click “Switch to this tab.”

You can do something similar in Safari. Simply click the + icon in the top right of your browser window, and use the “Search Tabs” bar to search your open tabs for a keyword or title.

Safari tabs

Source: Safari

How to group tabs

A cornerstone of tab management is getting your various tabs in order. All good browsers offer a few different options for sorting your tabs into groups according to their subject and use.

In Chrome, group tabs by right-clicking and selecting “Add tab to new group.”

Chrome tabs, Move tabs menu

Source: Chrome

Chrome allows you to color-code your new group, add new tabs to it, and do various other things to help you stay organized.

Chrome tabs, Economics group

Source: Chrome

In Firefox, you’ll need to install a browser add-on in order to group your tabs. Add-ons like OneTab allow you to convert all your open tabs into a list, which can be restored individually or all at once. Simple Tab Groups is also excellent for allowing you to group tabs and manage tab groups from a centralized list view.

Firefox browser, Search acrtive tabs bar

Source: Firefox

In Safari, create a new group of tabs by clicking the arrow beside the Sidebar button in your browser toolbar. Next, click “New Tab Group.”

Safari browserm, Move to Tab Group selected

Source: Safari

Choose New Tab Group with, in this case, 3 Tabs. Safari will then ask you to name your tab group. Add new tabs to a group by right-clicking a tab in your browser and selecting Move to Tab Group.

How to open recently closed tabs

Accidentally closed out of a tab you were trying to open? It happens, particularly when you’re losing a little sharpness at the end of a long, busy day (or week).

Regardless of which browser you’re using, you can reopen the most recently closed tab using the Ctrl + Shift + T keyboard shortcut. Simply replace “Ctrl” with your Command key if you’re using a Mac.

In Chrome and Safari, you can also reopen any closed tab by going to the History menu. You’ll find 10 of your most recently closed tabs. Simply click on one to reopen it.

Chrome history menu, recently closed emphasized

Source: Chrome

In Firefox, reopen closed tabs by clicking on the hamburger menu button. Next, click “History.” Click “Recently Closed Tabs” and find the tab you want to reopen. Then, simply click on it.

Firefox browser, Recently closed tabs menu

Source: Firefox

How to restore all tabs

If you’ve accidentally closed your window or suffered a crash, don’t panic. There is a good chance that you’ll be able to recover your tabs.

In Chrome, hover over “History” in your toolbar to bring up a sub-menu. You will see a menu trigger entitled “[Number] tabs” if your old tabs are still in the cache. Restore all of them by clicking “Restore all tabs.”

Chrome History menu, 3 recently closed tabs

Source: Chrome

In Firefox, restore all tabs by clicking on the hamburger menu button. Next, click “History.” If your previous session data remains in the cache, its tabs will be found in the “Recently Closed Windows” sub-menu. Restore the entire session by clicking “Reopen All Windows.”

Firefox, Recently closed windows menu

Source: Firefox

In Safari, restore all tabs by going to “History” in your toolbar. The menu will provide you with two options: “Reopen Last Window” or “Reopen All Windows from Last Session.”

Safari browser, Reopen last closed window menu

Source: Safari

How to use the bookmarks bar

Accessing bookmarks from a dropdown can be time-consuming. Thankfully, a lot of browsers come with toggles to make this process smoother.

The Bookmark Sidebar add-on for Chrome makes for a smoother browsing experience. This adds a toggleable bookmark bar at the side of your browser. It’s straightforward to arrange, delete, and add items from the bar.

Bookmark sidebar, Bookmark selected

Source: Chrome

Firefox’s easily accessible bookmarks bar is accessed by right-clicking on the vacant space to the right of your toolbar. From there, select “Bookmarks Toolbar” and simply toggle the bar to “Always Show,” so your bookmarks are accessible to you without having to dive into a menu.

Firefox bookmarks bar, Bookmarks toolbar selected

Source: Firefox

And on Safari, enable the bookmarks bar by going to the “View” menu and clicking the “Show Bookmarks Sidebar” option.

Safari bookmarks bar, Show bookmarks sidebar selected

Source: Safari

How to set up vertical tabs

The vertical tabs feature on Firefox was so popular that some other browsers eventually copied it. Vertical tabs skirt the need to squish tabs down and instead allow for tabs’ full titles to be displayed. This makes browser management and tab navigation considerably easier.

In Firefox, the most popular extension for setting up vertical tabs on Firefox is Vertical Tabs Reloaded. Download the app from Mozilla Add-Ons to get vertical tabs up and running in your browser. Manually toggle the tab sidebar using Ctrl/Command + Shift + V or by clicking on the VTR icon.

Firefox browser, Vertical Tabs Reloaded add-on, Bandcamp tabs selected

Source: Firefox

Chrome has its own Vertical Tabs extension. After downloading the extension, you can select it from your Chrome extension menu. Clicking the pinned icon next to your address bar will toggle your vertical tabs bar on and off.

Chrome Vertical Tabs extension

Source: Chrome

How to save all tabs

Sometimes, you’ll want to save an entire session for when you next log on. It’s easy to make that happen. In fact, the easiest way to save your session with whatever browser you’re using is to simply leave your window open when you shut down your computer. Your session will begin with the same tabs you had open when you shut down the next time you log in.

If you’re running Firefox, you’ll want to go to the Settings tab (accessible via the hamburger menu) to ensure that you’ve enabled the option to open previous windows on startup.

Firefox Settings tab

Source: Firefox

The easiest way to save your tabs for later, should you wish to do so, is via bookmarking. In Chrome, you can add all current tabs to bookmarks by using the shortcut Control+Shift+D on Windows or Cmd+Shift+D on Mac.

Save all tabs to bookmarks in Firefox by simply right-clicking on any tab and choosing “Select All Tabs.” Then, click “Bookmark Tabs.”

Firefox Bookmarks Tabs

Source: Firefox

In Safari, save all tabs in your current session by opening the Bookmarks menu and selecting “Add Bookmarks for These Tabs.”

Safari Browser, "Add Bookmarks for These 3 Tabs" selected

Source: Safari

How to suspend tabs

Some people run enough tabs at one time to make the average internet browser dizzy. Running dozens (or hundreds) of tabs at a time will also make your processor dizzy, reducing your computer’s performance and increasing the likelihood of a crash. Consider installing a tab suspender on your browser to guarantee performance if you like to run lots of tabs simultaneously.

In Chrome, the Great Suspender is the suspending tool of choice. The Great Suspender is an add-on that suspends tabs you’re not using to improve your browser’s performance. The automatic suspension of dormant tabs frees up memory and CPU that would otherwise be consumed by that tab. It’s easily installed from the Chrome Web Store.

The Great Suspender settings, Chrome

Source: The Great Suspender, Chrome

How to turn your browser into a true research assistant with Heyday

These tips and tricks are handy for making the best of your own bad habits when it comes to browser management — too many tabs, too haphazardly organized, with no bookmarking. But you need to go further if you really want to get your browser working for you.

Ready for a memory boost?

No need for you to keep every interesting knowledge resource you come across open in a tab, making navigation harder and browser performance slower. Heyday remembers it for you and resurfaces it when you need it most.