Best tab managers for Google Chrome

A look at the best ways to manage your tabs, to free-up resources and bookmark your favourite sites

Browser tabs are a blessing and a curse. Before them, we had too many Windows open. Now we have one window with too many tabs open, which is not only a nightmare to sort through, but also a massive drain on your computer's resources

So we've taken a look at some of the best plugins to help manage your tabs, all of which can be downloaded for free directly within your Chrome browser.

OneTab

OneTab claims that it can reduce the amount of memory your browser uses by up to 95%. That essentially depends on how many tabs you've got open, but if you're the tab-happy type, we can easily imagine how this efficient add-on might be able to hit that optimistic-sounding target.

OneTab interface

It initially looks like a bit of a one-trick pony. Click on the OneTab button and all your tabs are condensed into a single list on a single tab. You can click on each item in the list to restore it or click the 'Restore all' link to reopen them all. If you had a lot of tabs on the list, this might take a few seconds, but it's still a relatively quick process.

So far so useful – but if you right-click the add-on's button you get even more control from a menu that offers a variety of options for fine-tuning which tabs get collapsed when you click the OneTab icon such as whether pinned tabs are exempted.

The single tab you're left with after clicking the button is basically a web page, so you can click on a link to publish it online for sharing. The page is given its own space on OneTab's servers, so you can send the link to others or bookmark it to save for later.

We loved the simplicity of OneTab. There's no need to make an account or fiddle with overly-sophisticated interfaces. Instead, you get a simple tool that can free up resources and be used to save tabs for the future, if you want it to.

How it can be improved

For some reason, the version of the list that you can save and share with others doesn't have a link to open all the tabs at once, so you have to open each one individually. If it's a long list, this would take a lot of clicks.

Verdict

OneTab is a one-click solution to having too many tabs open on your screen, shrinking them down to a single page that you can close when you're done or bookmark if you want to save it. It's simple, clean and works exactly how you'd want it to, with basic operation that blooms gloriously into more features if you choose to explore it further

Features: 4

Performance: 5

Ease of use: 5

Overall: 5

Tabli

Tabli is a powerful tab manager that will store groups of tabs so you can come back to them at a later date. If you're the kind of person who likes to have a range of different tabs open for different tasks, particularly by grouping them all together in different browser windows, this is an elegant way to go about it.

Tabil tab manager

Click on the icon and you'll get a pop-out box with all the current open tabs listed. It's not particularly obvious but if you then click the box next to the group's heading, as if you were going to put a tick in it, you'll be given the choice of naming and saving the group, so you can open it again at a later date.

You don't need to make an account for this to happen, which is good, but it will sync between different devices, as long as they're signed in to the same Google account.

How it can be improved

There's a search box but it only searches the headings of the open tabs, rather than the contents of the pages, which isn't that useful unless you have really long lists of tabs.

Verdict

Tabli is more sophisticated than our Gold Award winner, particularly because it can sync with your browser, so if you only want to save lists of tabs, it's well worth considering. In the final analysis, however, we love OneTab's lean simplicity too much for Tabli to get in the way.

Features: 5

Performance: 4

Ease of use: 3

Overall: 4

The Great Suspender

The Great Suspender (TGS) doesn't get extra points for having the best name of any Chrome add-on ever, but it does get them for doing what OneTab doesn't: tidying up your tabs behind you as you neglect to close them.

The Great Suspender tab manager

Usefully, TGS doesn't close the pages, like OneTab does, but simply replaces the tab with a web page that consists of a link you can click on to return to the page that's been suspended. If you want to go back to the page, return to the tab (which has a faded tab icon to show that it's sleeping), click on the link and it will reload. In the meantime, however, the original page has stopped hogging as much memory.

You can set TGS to trigger this process after a certain length of inactivity, so you don't even need to do it yourself, though you can also right-click to suspend groups of tabs if you want to instantly recapture some browser resources.

How it can be improved

What The Great Suspender doesn't do is offer a way of saving and restoring tabs at a later date. However, if you're happy with your current bookmarking habits, this may not bother you.

Verdict

The Great Suspender is just about reclaiming resources and won't save your tabs from one session to the next, but it will do its job without needing to be asked. Since most of us rarely mean to have so many tabs open, this is a useful trick.

Features: 3

Performance: 4

Ease of use: 4

Overall: 4

Best of the rest

Toby for Chrome


Toby for Chrome

Toby is probably the most feature-packed of the tools we've reviewed here and it certainly has the interface that looks the slickest. However, it's over-engineered for a tool that essentially just saves a list of tabs and reopens them again at a later date. It also encourages you to make an account, which we think is unnecessary.

Tab Manager Plus for Chrome


Tab Manager Plus for Chrome

Click on the button for Tab Manager Plus and a little window opens, displaying your current tabs as icons in a box. If you open tabs in a new window, they'll be displayed in a new box below it, with the add-on syncing this information across all your browsers. What we didn't like, however, is that by default the add-on shows the number of tabs you have open superimposed over its icon, which makes it look like a security tool.

Session Buddy


Session Buddy tab manager

Session Buddy automatically saves all the tabs you had open in your last three sessions, so you don't even need to save your tabs manually, though you can still do this to create a more permanent record. It's a lot easier than using Chrome's built-in History tool. However, it doesn't do anything for saving resources and has a search tool that only searches the session you've got highlighted.

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