I usually have at least half a dozen or more projects going at once: I can be writing or updating several short pieces, editing one or two others, getting ready for Apple or Google or some other company to announce their latest and greatest, or dealing with some other project. Each of these projects usually involves several tabs on my Chrome browser: one for the article itself, several for online sources that I need to read or link to, and perhaps also a document or spreadsheet that I’m sharing with my team. And that’s not even counting the tabs for my email accounts (work and personal), calendars (ditto), and other social networking.
Once upon a time, I would have had to create bookmarks for all those tabs if I wanted to keep them in any kind of order. But these days, tab grouping is what keeps me sane. If you also tend to collect tabs on your Chrome browser, here’s how you can use tab groups to keep things at least somewhat in check.
How to create a tab group
- Choose one of the tabs that you want to include in a group — any will do — and right-click on it.
- Select Add Tab to Group > New Group
- Type in the name of the new group, choose a color, and hit Return.
- Click and drag any tabs you want in the group toward the new label; they will now be underlined with the new color, indicating they’re part of the group. You can also use click on one tab and then use Ctrl-click or Shift-click to choose multiple tabs and move them into the group (thanks to farrellj in our comments section for the tip).
- You can click and drag tabs out of the group as well.
Now when you aren’t using those particular tabs, just click on the label, and all your tabs will collapse into the label, out of sight and out of mind. Once you need to use them again, just click on the label again.
Manage your tab groups
There are several ways you can manage the tab group by right-clicking on the label and selecting features on the drop-down menu:
- Select New Tab in Group to create a new, unused tab.
- Select Ungroup to remove the group label but keep the tabs
- Select Close Group to remove the label and close all the tabs in the group
- Select Move Group to New Window to — well, you know.
Reopen your tab group
If you’ve recently closed a tab group — so that all your tabs are no longer active — and then regretted it, you can find the tabs in the group and restore them.
- Click on the Search Tabs icon (it’s the small downward-facing arrow in the upper right corner of the browser).
- Scroll down to Recently Closed.
- Look for small colored dots underneath the names of the tabs — they will be the same color as the label, and next to them will be the name of the label you assigned. While you won’t be able to open all the tabs at once, if you click on them, they will reopen one at a time as part of their group.
Save your tab group
If you’ve got a tab group that you’ll be using over the course of days — or longer — you will logically want to save that group in the same way that you can say, say, a bookmark. Google hasn’t added that feature to its standard right-click menu yet (at least, as of Official Build 106.0.5249.91). But the feature is available — although it is a bit quirky. No, let’s be clear — it’s very quirky. But you might find it useful.
- Open a new tab in your Chrome browser and type chrome://flags in the search field.
- Type tab groups in the search field on top.
- Next to Tab Groups Save, click on the drop-down menu (where it says Default) and select Enabled.
- Click on Relaunch.
- After your browser relaunches, right-click on your tab group label. You’ll now see a toggle called Save Group. Click on the toggle to save your group.
Once you’ve toggled Save Group on, an icon for that group will appear on the left side of your bookmark bar. If you click the icon, it will open the group of tabs; right-click on it, and you’ll get a drop-down menu showing all the tabs that are part of that group.
But wait, there’s more: if you close a tab group (by right-clicking on the label tab and clicking on Close Group), its associated icon will fade but will remain in your bookmark bar. Want that group back? Just click on the icon in the bookmark bar, and your tab group will reappear. You can also get back single tabs that were part of the group by right-clicking on the icon and selecting the desired tab.
If you want to get rid of both the tab group and its bookmark bar icon, then before you get rid of the group, right-click on the group’s label and toggle Save Group off.
Finding saved groups from closed browsers
So you can now find a saved group after you closed it in an active Chrome browser. But can you find your saved group after you’ve actually closed your browser?
Yes, you can — by checking your browser’s history. It’s not obvious, but it is there.
- Click on the three dots in the upper right corner and select History.
- Look under Recently Closed for the number of tabs that were in your browser when it closed. If you can find it, click on that.
- If you chose the right entry, you’ll see all the tabs that were in Chrome at that time, including the group label. Click on Restore Window, and you’ll get all the tabs, including the group (with its label).
- You can also hover over the label and just restore one of the tabs in it, and it will restore along with the group label. But, inconveniently, you can’t click on the label and restore the group — you have to restore each individually. And if the group doesn’t appear under Recently Closed, you’re out of luck.
Update October 19th, 2022, 11:45AM ET: This article was originally published on October 4th, 2022, and has been updated to add info about the bookmark bar icons.