Oct 2021

Google again tries to improve tab usage on Chrome OS and comes up short

Google keeps trying to make tab management better on Chrome. This time around they've added a new Tab Search feature, which does make finding the tab you want considerably easier.

Here's the thing: The number of tabs I tend to have open can get really frustrating and only one browser has ever truly solved the problem of tab management with any success. That browser is Opera (read Opera Workspaces turn a chaotic browser into an effective and efficient tool). No browser has come close to what Opera offers.

But they all try. Google has opted to go the tab groups route with Chrome and it's, well, less-than-viable for those who work with a large number of tabs. But at least with the recent update to Chrome OS (and, by extension, the Chrome browser), Google has offered up a feature that attempts to make dealing with an inordinate amount of tabs a bit easier. Although it comes up short (compared to other options), at least it's a step in the right direction.

The new feature is found in Chrome versions 94.0.4606.54 or newer, so you'll need to make sure to upgrade your browser to at least that release.

What is this new feature?

Unfortunately, the new Chrome tab feature isn't a way to organize your tabs. For the moment, Google is still betting on Tab Groups for that. Instead, Google has added a tab search feature. What this does is allow you to quickly search through your open (and pinned) tabs, as well as your tab history. I will say that adding the tab history into the mix was a good choice, as this makes the search feature even more useful. So instead of just being able to search through that myriad listing of open tabs, you can add your recently closed tabs into the mix as well.

How do you use the Tab Search feature in Chrome?

As you might expect, the Tab Search feature is pretty easy to use. In the upper right corner of Chrome, you'll find a downward-pointing arrow. Click that arrow to reveal the Tab Search popup. If you don't tend to work with so many tabs that the browser becomes unwieldy, you can quickly select the tab you want from the list. If, however, you tend to fill your tab bar to overflowing, you might want to take advantage of the search feature by typing the name of the tab (such as TechRepublic) in the search bar, which will reveal all related tabs to the search string

Google again tries to improve tab usage on Chrome OS and comes up short

If you prefer to keep your fingers on the keyboard, you can open the Tab Search feature with the Ctrl+Shift+A keyboard shortcut and then immediately type your search string to bring up the results. You can also close tabs from within the results by simply clicking the X associated with the tab in question.

And that's all there is to the new Chrome Tab Search feature. No, this won't help you wrangle all of those tabs into conveniently organized workspaces (a la Opera), but it will make it considerably easier to search through the collection of tabs you have open that have made it nearly impossible for you to discern which tab is which (something I run into all the time).

Hopefully, every other browser developer out there will wise up to what Opera has done with Workspaces and mimic that brilliant feature, otherwise, their efforts to better organize tabs are futile at best.

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