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A couple of years ago, Google introduced Tab Groups to the Chrome browser, which makes it somewhat easier to manage a growing field of tabs in your browser. No, it’s not nearly as good as Opera’s Workspaces or even the Firefox Simple Tab Groups extension. However, this is still an improvement over the default. So if you’re a Chrome user, you might want to pay attention because tab groups can certainly make organizing those out-of-hand tabs a bit easier.

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How do tab groups work?

Tab groups work by allowing users to group tabs in categories. Say, for example, you like to keep sites like TechRepublic, Code Guru and open throughout the day and you want to keep them grouped together. You could create a group called TECH and add those tabs. Or you could create a group for development projects, called DEV, and add all of the sites you’re working on.

The one thing Tab Groups doesn’t do is clean up your tab bar. So if you keep 20 or so tabs open, Tab Groups isn’t going to make your life any easier, other than to keep various tabs bunched together in a group. One of the problems of having too many tabs open is knowing which tab is what. It’s fine if a site has a recognizable favicon that you can click on but when you have 20+ tabs open, it becomes a bit more challenging. Not only will the site titles not appear, but sometimes those favicons can get so small, even they don’t help.

However, Tab Groups does at least delineate your tabs with the title of the group (Figure A).

Figure A

I have two groups so far, TECH and SOCIAL, which make it easy to see which groups are where.

How do you group and ungroup tabs in Chrome?

The first thing you must do is create a new tab group. To do that, right-click any tab and then click Add Tab to Group | New Group (Figure B).

Figure B

Adding a new Tab Group to Chrome.

This will create an unnamed group, which is denoted only by a colored dot. Right-click that dot and then type a new name in the popup window (Figure C).

Figure C

Naming our new Chrome tab group.

You can then add tabs to that new group by right-clicking a tab and selecting Add To Group | GROUP, where GROUP is the name of the group that will house the tab.

Can you save your Chrome tab groups?

Google is working to roll out a feature that will allow you to save those tab groups, but it’s yet to be finalized. However, you can still enable the feature. Here’s how:

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Go to chrome://flags.
  3. In the search field, type tab groups.
  4. From the Default drop-down for Tab Groups Save, select Enabled (Figure D)
  5. When prompted, click Relaunch.

Figure D

Enabling the Tab Groups Save experimental feature in Chrome.

Once Chrome restarts, right-click any tab group name and then click the ON/OFF slider for Save Group until it’s in the ON position (Figure E).

Figure E

It’s hard to tell that the gray dot is actually an ON/OFF slider.

Once you’ve saved the tab group, you’ll find those saved groups accessible from the Recently Closed section – the downward pointing arrow at the right side of the window title bar – and you should see recently closed pages associated with the tab group (Figure F).

Figure F

Locating your recently closed tab groups from the Recently Closed tool in Google Chrome.

Open any one of those tabs will also associate them with their assigned tab group.

And that’s all there is to use the Google Chrome tab groups feature. This might not be the best method of organizing your tabs, but it’s certainly better than the default. Give tab groups a try and see if it doesn’t help you keep chaos at bay in Google Chrome.

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