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Tab management is one of those hurdles to productivity I’m always looking to improve. For a while, I adopted the Opera Browser, simply because the Workspaces feature was unrivaled. Although that is still the case, I did wind up migrating back to Firefox (even though tab management on Firefox is laughable at best).

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But when working on a Chromebook, what can you do? Sure, Google has created Tab Groups for Chrome, but that doesn’t really solve tab management in a way that makes it easy to work with a large number of tabs. However, there is another way to better manage your tabs, one that involves the virtual desks feature found in ChromeOS. It was Firefox’s poor tab management that led me to adopt this method. On Linux, I can easily create virtual desktops and then move Firefox windows for specific tasks (such as productivity, social networking, etc.) to different virtual desks. This way, instead of having so many tabs open in a window, I can spread them across windows and desktops for more effective tab management.

Let me show you how this is done.

What you’ll need

To work with tabs this way, you’ll need an updated version of ChromeOS. I’ll be demonstrating on ChromeOS 101.0.4951.13 (on the dev channel).

How to create a new desk

The first thing to do is create a new desk. Swipe up on your trackpad with three fingers and, in the resulting overview (Figure A), click New desk.

Figure A

The virtual Desks overview in ChromeOS.
The virtual desks overview in ChromeOS.

When prompted (Figure B), type a name for the desk (such as WORK) and hit Enter to save the name.

Figure B

Naming your new ChromeOS desk.
Naming your new ChromeOS desk.

Now that you’ve created your new desk, you’re ready to work with the setup. However, there’s one caveat: You cannot send a Chrome tab to a desk itself. What you have to do is send the tab to a different Chrome window that’s open on a desk (Google, if you’re listening, please make it possible to send tabs to an empty desk).

Click on your new desk and open Chrome. Three-finger-swipe up again and go back to the original desk. Right-click the tab you want to send to the new desk and select Move tab to another window | DESK | TAB (Figure C–where DESK is the new desk name and Tab is the name of an open tab on that Chrome window).

Figure C

Moving the TechRepublic tab to a new Desk.
Moving the TechRepublic tab to a new desk.

It’s not the most intuitive method of managing your Chrome tabs on ChromeOS, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll start to make sense. Hopefully, in upcoming releases, the ChromeOS developers will refine the process to make it even easier. In the meantime, you can at least start using a similar workflow to the one I’ve created to help tab management on ChromeOS less of a slog. If anything, just the ability to send a tab to an empty desk would be a step toward a more efficient process.

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