How to reduce the memory footprint of Chrome with The Great Suspender

Do you work with numerous tabs in Chrome? Are those tabs gobbling up your resources? If that's you, this extension might be the solution for what ails your browser.

Image: Jack Wallen

Every so often you'll find Chrome draining your system of resources. This is especially true when you tend to work with numerous tabs open throughout the day. When you're working with more than one memory-hungry tab, your experience can become less than efficient. What do you do? Close every tab until you're ready to use them? That might work for some; but from my experience, I wind up having to save a lot of URLs to Google Keep--just so I don't lose the pages I wanted to view.

Fortunately, there's another option; one that will save you a headache or two. Said option is The Great Suspender. This handy Chrome extension allows you to unload, park, and suspend tabs to reduce memory footprint of chrome. You can even set a user-specific period of time for which all unused tabs will be automatically suspended. When you're ready to use a tab again, unsuspending is but a click away.

Let's install and use this extension.


Installing The Great Suspender is quite simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the extension page in Chrome
  2. Click ADD TO CHROME
  3. When prompted, click Add Extension

That's all there is to restart required, no account to sign into. Once installed, you'll find a new icon in the Chrome main toolbar (to the right of the address bar). The Great Suspender is ready to go.


Using The Great Suspender is quite simple: When you have a tab you want to suspend, select it and then click on The Great Suspender icon. A new drop-down will appear (Figure A), where you can click to Suspend the tab, set the tab to never suspend, suspend other tabs, unsuspend all tabs, or open the Settings window.

Figure A

Figure A

The Great Suspender in action.

When you suspend a tab, it will change to a nearly blank page with the link to the tab at the top and the text Tab suspended Click to reload. You can either click on that text or click The Great Suspender icon and select Unsuspend (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

A suspended tab ready at any time.

There is also a The Great Suspender entry now added to the Chrome right-click context menu. From that menu, you can take the same actions as are available to the extension's icon.


Out of the box, The Great Suspender is set to suspend any tab after one hour of activity. To change that, click on The Great Suspender icon and then click Settings. In the Settings window (Figure C), click the Automatically suspend tabs after drop-down and select the desired time.

Figure C

Figure C

You can select from Never to 3 Days (and many points between).

From the Settings window, you can manually add sites to the Whitelist (Figure D). Sites are also added to the whitelist when you select Never suspend this site (from The Great Suspender icon). If you make any changes to the Settings window, make sure to click Save settings at the bottom of the page.

Figure D

Figure D

The Great Suspender whitelist.

And that is pretty much all there is to The Great Suspender.

Don't pretend

If you're a Chrome power user, don't pretend this particular extension is beneath you. The Great Suspender goes a long way to keeping Chrome's footprint down. Use it wisely and you'll find Chrome's resource footprint won't get away from you nearly as much.

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By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....