How To Open More Than Nine Browser Tabs And Stay Sane And Efficient

How To Open More Than Nine Browser Tabs And Stay Sane And Efficient

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman recently wrote a post on why you should never have more than nine browser tabs open. That proved quite controversial when it ran on the Lifehacker US site. I’d mount a different argument to Angus: it’s OK to have a lot of tabs open if you use the right tricks and technology to keep them all organised..

“Unload” Items To Save Memory

we haveThe Great SuspenderBarTab Lite X

Organise Tabs Into Groups

for ChromeFirefox

Use A Read Later Service

PocketInstapaperReadabilityright now

Even faster would be to use our previously mentioned tricks for reading multiple blogs. Sort them all into RSS feeds to keep all your blogs in one tab, then just send the articles you star to your read later service of choice. You’ll never have to open more than one tab, and you’ll be able to read all those articles without having to “find” them again.

Get An Extension Or A Desktop App

Try replacing pinned tabs with extensions, if possible. It keeps them out of the sight, easily accessible and with the added bonus of notifications.

I grouped my emails in the X-notifier extension, feeds in the Google Reader extension, and even my Transmission tab with Remote Transmission extension. The only pinned tab I currently have is Google Music, but soon it will be replaced too.

Of course, you could also offload those things to desktop clients for things like email, as reader geekgirlbarbie argues:

Assuming a few of the tabs are Gmail accounts and Google Reader (I’m guessing, correct me if I’m wrong), and assuming you’re computer is powerful enough, you can easily eliminate a few tabs using Thunderbird, Postbox, Pidgin, or FeedDemon (which honestly is much better for power users than Google Reader). That would eliminate a few of your pinned tabs, leaving more open for browsing and give you a few more powerful features to boot.

There are many other tools and tips out there to manage your overflowing tab bar, but this should help get you started. While I do agree that fewer tabs is often better — and I’ll minimise the number of tabs I open whenever possible — sometimes, having 30 tabs open is OK. You just need to manage them properly to stay sane.

A brief note from Angus: A core part of the Lifehacker ethos is that there’s often more than one way to solve a problem. If you find the notion of nine tabs too restrictive, these are excellent possible solutions — but what’s in common across these approaches and the one I suggested is that all involve managing your behaviour. Wildly flinging tabs open without some kind of plan is asking for performance issues and won’t make you more efficient. Happy browsing!


  • As I type this, I have 24 tabs open in Firefox. These are the tabs I have open all the time, every day. I’ll have twice as many open if I’m researching something. I know precisely what each one is from their icons and I’ve never experienced any slowdowns, so I don’t understand the basic premise of this article, or the one that preceded it. Having lots of tabs open is simply the best way to utilise a modern browser, and you don’t need any additional organisational tools for that.

  • I’ve got 4 stacks (not sure how many tabs in each… ok will check) and 1 pinned tab plus another two separate tabs open in Opera just now.

    One stack is work metrics sites (9 tabs), one is work related info (6 tabs), one is tech (12) and other news stuff (say hello to your stack Lifehacker along with another 9) and another is personal financial stuff (3).

    Then I have my mail as a pinned tab and the others are the “wildly flung” types, sitting as tabs, non-organised, that I will get to or not and don’t bother me either way.

    Lots of tabs or “wildly flinging” is fine unless you get yourself be hamstrung by them: their existence preventing you from getting past them. Tabulus paralysis maybe.

Log in to comment on this story!