19 votes

100s of tabs: what is there?

Those of you who keep hundreds of tabs open: I'm curious how and why you use them. I'd hoard tabs in the past, but in a sad incident a browser (Firefox) restart caused the loss of all my 10s of open tabs that was accumulated over weeks long research about a topic, I decided to never trust tabs again. Now I'm making use of my bookmars toolbar, Org mode and Instapaper for most of the stuff having many tabs open was the method before. So, for me, tabs were for keeping stuff handy during research, read-it-later lists, and temporary bookmarks. What are the use cases for you?

36 comments

  1. [3]
    Wes
    Link
    I gave my take on a similar question regarding bookmarks last month. I have a similar philosophy when it comes to tabs. I'm speaking as an ex tab-a-holic myself. The essence of my argument is that...

    I gave my take on a similar question regarding bookmarks last month. I have a similar philosophy when it comes to tabs. I'm speaking as an ex tab-a-holic myself.

    The essence of my argument is that instead of finding solutions to manage and organize so many tabs, it's easier to adapt a workflow which prioritizes closing them instead.

    You mentioned that you've replaced tabs with bookmarks and "read later" lists, suggesting they served a similar purpose. I think that's common, but I'd suggest these are two very different ideas. Tabs should be for what you're working on right now, and other solutions should be for longer term.

    The unfortunate thing is that having so many tabs hurts our productivity. Titles begin to shrink and it takes longer to find what we're looking for at a glance. I know many of us are vertical tabbers, but it still adds overhead. You can introduce organization systems like categories are some mental algorithm for how tabs are ordered, but that's just another thing to maintain.

    For that reason I no longer consider tabs as permanent fixtures of my browser. I don't "save them for later", and put them off for another day. If I did, I'd likely never actually deal with them and the problem would grow. I suspect that's what happens for most tab-a-holics.

    I get it. Sometimes things disappear on the internet and you feel more secure keeping a copy stored safely in our browser. You've been hurt before - I know. But that security blanket is not worth trying to cache all things inside of your personal browser. As @cadadr suggested there are better tools for this purpose like Pocket, Instapaper, or bookmarks. If you do lose something - and understand that it's rare - well I'm sorry, but remember that it's not the end of the world.

    Your expectation for what that content might have been is likely greater than the reality; humans always emphasize the loss of something and that makes it feel more significant than it really was. Remember that you didn't have time for it earlier, so what you were doing was already considered more important. This too shall pass.

    I've been getting more into minimalism the last five years or so, and have adopted the philosophy to reduce where possible. I think that's what helped me get more into this mindset. And with that in mind, I'm going to take this one step further and refer back to my bookmarks post from last month.

    Everybody has different workflows. If you're the kind of person that goes back and reads those old articles, or watches those old videos, then that's great and these solutions already discussed will work for you. If however you're like me, that content will end up collecting on your favorite service just as your tabs did. Never to be read, never to be watched. You're saving them for nothing.

    If you're saving them for nothing, is it even worth saving them?

    I don't. Not anymore. If I'm not interested enough to read that article right now, I just don't read it. I make a decision when I come across something and decide if I'm interested in it or not. That has helped me immensely in reducing the problems of "digital clutter".

    So my long-winded answer to your question above OP is that I don't use any tools or services to approach the problem of tab overload. Instead I addressed it with a workflow change. I now keep three pinned tabs for updates (Gmail, Slack, Discord), and usually only one or two others that I'm currently working with. Anything else gets closed immediately.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      It's pretty difficult to lose a text-based web page on the internet thanks to the internet archive. I don't think I've ever failed to find what I'm looking for on there. I have no idea how they...

      It's pretty difficult to lose a text-based web page on the internet thanks to the internet archive. I don't think I've ever failed to find what I'm looking for on there. I have no idea how they can store so much data on donations alone.

      2 votes
      1. unknown user
        Link Parent
        I have failed to find stuff there on multiple occasions. Not much stuff are that important though, so if there is something that important, I save it to Zotero which makes an offline copy.

        I have failed to find stuff there on multiple occasions. Not much stuff are that important though, so if there is something that important, I save it to Zotero which makes an offline copy.

        1 vote
  2. [3]
    ruspaceni
    Link
    Usually its just filled to the brim with interesting things I find online, but aren't in the mood/can't dive into it at the time. I'll skim through my youtube subbox and middle click every...

    Usually its just filled to the brim with interesting things I find online, but aren't in the mood/can't dive into it at the time. I'll skim through my youtube subbox and middle click every interesting video and close the tab, then slowly I'll watch&close each video.

    Some of them stick around for a few days (mostly the 30m+ ones), but they're by channels like AppliedScience which are usually quite information dense and I get terribly bad concentration lapses sometimes causing me to just pause that video for a while and do something else. Same goes for some of the meaty articles I find on Tildes.

    That's all the "rightward" tabs. On the opposite side I keep my programming stuff, mostly godoc pages of various things I'm working on. But due to the concentration lapses, I often have to leave a diagnostic trail for myself so I don't lose all progress on a problem while taking a break. It's no fun when you get going again and have to retrace your steps.

    Then I've got my pinned icon tab things. That's where I shove my email tab and a few links to my private server stuff like seafile, photo gallery, whatnot. All told, it can get quite tabby in my browser. But I've been sick recently so I've actually only got this tab and my pinned ones open.

    I feel quite naked without my tabs. I've had to stop writing this comment a few times now so that I could space out and do something else, but there was nothing else to do! I'm all caught up on everything I currently care about, and the show I'm re-watching didn't turn out to be as good as memory served. This is prime time for scrolling through dozens of tabs and finding something else to do.

    Also, to your point of not trusting tabs again; have you looked into extensions for saving tab sessions? Whenever I need to restart my laptop, as infrequent as that is, I never do it without getting a snapshot of my tabs. I used to do that trick where you end the browsers process instead of closing it so that when you restart, it goes "whoopsies, lets recover those tabs shall we?". But that always felt perilous and was never 100% reliable. I eventually found an extension to do the same thing "Tab Session Manager" for FF.

    P.S Vivaldi is a tab hoarders dream browser

    4 votes
    1. UniquelyGeneric
      Link Parent
      I’ve used Session Buddy with some success. Mostly useful when the number of tabs has killed my memory and I need a fresh browser session without losing anything. It helps me to prune the tabs I...

      have you looked into extensions for saving tab sessions?

      I’ve used Session Buddy with some success. Mostly useful when the number of tabs has killed my memory and I need a fresh browser session without losing anything. It helps me to prune the tabs I want to reopen as well.

      I also would highly suggest TabWrangler, which does the opposite: it closes unused tabs (and stores them for future reference if they were relevant). This is great for keeping my browser “lightweight” on an aging machine, and for keeping me focused on only using a handful of tabs rather than continually increasing the total number. It should be noted that I can’t use this extension at work or when programming as my head space does warrant multiple tabs to reference later. Regardless, for browsing at home, if I couldn’t find the time to go back and review closed tabs, then they likely weren’t important enough for me to spend time on anyways.

      1 vote
    2. unknown user
      Link Parent
      Nope, didn't know that they existed. Thanks for mentioning it though, I will check them out.

      Also, to your point of not trusting tabs again; have you looked into extensions for saving tab sessions?

      Nope, didn't know that they existed. Thanks for mentioning it though, I will check them out.

  3. [4]
    Eva
    Link
    OneTab is incredibly useful for my tab-hoarding urges; just click the button, all the tabs get put into the extension, and you can even export them for backups! Currently, including OneTab, I'm at...

    OneTab is incredibly useful for my tab-hoarding urges; just click the button, all the tabs get put into the extension, and you can even export them for backups! Currently, including OneTab, I'm at ~10,500 tabs.

    4 votes
    1. hook
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      This, plus what I wrote in the “How do you organise your bookmarks” thread. TL;DR of that lengthy comment: OneTab is great for decluttering and making “temporary bookmark sets” that you want to...

      This, plus what I wrote in the “How do you organise your bookmarks” thread.

      TL;DR of that lengthy comment:

      • OneTab is great for decluttering and making “temporary bookmark sets” that you want to respawn, but crap at organising, syncing and everything else
      • Pocket and Wallabag are superb for dumping things from your browser tab that you want to read later, esp. on some other device such as eReader or mobile phone
      • Memex is great for searching websites you visited before, adding (and searching) annotations, tags and comments, but it’s relatively early in development

      I’m probably going to end up with Memex and Pocket/Wallabag, but for now I combine that with OneTab as well.

      2 votes
    2. [2]
      unknown user
      Link Parent
      You have tabs double the amount of my bookmarks :) Does this extension store history as well? Then I too might make use of it---bookmarks are nice for stuff like news, but for research, a tabs...

      You have tabs double the amount of my bookmarks :)

      Does this extension store history as well? Then I too might make use of it---bookmarks are nice for stuff like news, but for research, a tabs history is useful too. I couldn't find the word "history" in their website though.

      1 vote
      1. Abrown
        Link Parent
        I use OneTab as well and it doesn't store per-tab-history. If I know I want to save a tab and surrounding items in the history, then I'll open those specific pages as well, arrange the tabs...

        I use OneTab as well and it doesn't store per-tab-history. If I know I want to save a tab and surrounding items in the history, then I'll open those specific pages as well, arrange the tabs accordingly, then send all the tabs to OneTab and name the tab group afterwards with something descriptive. Sometimes Ill save a pastebin tab with a brief explanation of my thoughts from that session for extra context.

        1 vote
  4. mftrhu
    Link
    I use them, with TreeStyleTabs, as a sort of holding area which also provides some context/shows how I reached a specific page/topic. Some of them serve as reminders of things I need to do, others...

    I use them, with TreeStyleTabs, as a sort of holding area which also provides some context/shows how I reached a specific page/topic. Some of them serve as reminders of things I need to do, others are for reference.

    Nowadays, though, I seldom get up to the triple digits - I got into the habit of closing my browser (saving my session with Bookmark all tabs) before going to bed, and I only have 40 to 70 of them by the end of the day.

    I could reduce that number even further if browsers had better history, allowing me to "drill up" or down in a chain of pages, and maybe even storing the text of the pages themselves.

    3 votes
  5. ras
    (edited )
    Link
    Like I mentioned in another post I use Pinboard for keeping track of things I might need later, especially documentation or StackOverflow articles that I find helpful. I pay for the archiving...

    Like I mentioned in another post I use Pinboard for keeping track of things I might need later, especially documentation or StackOverflow articles that I find helpful. I pay for the archiving feature so that if the page disappears I’ll still have access to a copy.

    *edit: a word

    2 votes
  6. [4]
    alyaza
    Link
    honestly, as someone who uses lots of tabs in two browsers and has for going on eight years at this point, i've found it easier to just keep a running list of links in notepad (or libreoffice,...

    honestly, as someone who uses lots of tabs in two browsers and has for going on eight years at this point, i've found it easier to just keep a running list of links in notepad (or libreoffice, since it auto-saves and auto-restores even if something happens like an update) to check out for the future rather than trying to keep them open among dozens of other tabs. just stands out more and ensures i actually get around to checking it out. this is what i do to compile links for the election night threads (and actually i'm doing this right now for articles to post here at some point later today since i've already posted like six this morning!)

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      the_walrus
      Link Parent
      I do this too. I think Notepad/TextEdit are the most underutilized tools in modern OSs. I've tried Sticky Notes, Evernote, Google Keep... they all just add unnecessary features in my opinion. A...

      I do this too. I think Notepad/TextEdit are the most underutilized tools in modern OSs. I've tried Sticky Notes, Evernote, Google Keep... they all just add unnecessary features in my opinion. A text editor is lightweight and versatile, and most of the time, that's all you need.

      1 vote
      1. alyaza
        Link Parent
        incidentally, it's also super nifty--if you save them from time to time--for going back and finding articles to previously reference, which is something i didn't touch on. something like that is...

        incidentally, it's also super nifty--if you save them from time to time--for going back and finding articles to previously reference, which is something i didn't touch on. something like that is probably better done by bookmarks in a void, but it's a side benefit of keeping a running list and it doesn't necessitate nearly as much organization as trying to bookmark everything generally does.

        1 vote
      2. Lawrencium265
        Link Parent
        I use notepad++ for this, it also has tabs so you have access to different notes quickly, so I can save information for various things easily.

        I use notepad++ for this, it also has tabs so you have access to different notes quickly, so I can save information for various things easily.

        1 vote
  7. [3]
    Crestwave
    Link
    I usually accumulate tabs when I'm researching about something, and when I want to save something shortly but it gets buried and forgotten. I add things I'd want to keep later to the Reading List...

    I usually accumulate tabs when I'm researching about something, and when I want to save something shortly but it gets buried and forgotten. I add things I'd want to keep later to the Reading List in Safari (it's so long it often crashes when I add to it), but others go into tabs. I usually don't manually close tabs I've kept for a while; when I reach the limit in Safari, I let them die natural deaths by opening links in new tabs, which I think closes one of the old ones.

    I accidentally closed them all a couple of times, but quickly accumulated them again; I'm near the 500 limit on both regular and private browsing (which I used originally when I reached the limit on regular). Thankfully mobile browsers don't really cram titles together, and Safari doesn't get slowed down by it, so it's not really a problem.

    On my old Android phone, I switched to a new browser every time the old one got unusably slow from all the tabs. I had Chrome, Chrome Beta, Brave, Puffin, Firefox with a duplicate of it from a feature my phone has, and Firefox Nightly. I try to close tabs when possible on my new one and on my desktop, though.

    I also sometimes keep data handy through screenshots, and I have a lot of them, too, as well as saved Reddit comments; unlike the others, this never gets cleared since I don't switch accounts, so I'm looking for a way to export them to a text file and unsave them all. I have ADHD, though, which I think explains it. Sorry if this comment is too rambly, I just let it loose since the topic is relevant to it. I'll likely delete this sometime later.

    2 votes
    1. mftrhu
      Link Parent
      You might not be able to do that all at once - Reddit only allows you to view the last 1k elements of any listing, and that includes saved comments - but I wrote a few Python scripts (which IIRC...

      I also sometimes keep data handy through screenshots, and I have a lot of them, too, as well as saved Reddit comments; unlike the others, this never gets cleared since I don't switch accounts, so I'm looking for a way to export them to a text file and unsave them all.

      You might not be able to do that all at once - Reddit only allows you to view the last 1k elements of any listing, and that includes saved comments - but I wrote a few Python scripts (which IIRC should have no dependencies whatsoever) to do this. They also include a rudimentary curses-based viewer that allow you to search/filter comments and to pipe their data to third party scripts.

      2 votes
    2. unknown user
      Link Parent
      I don't think there is anything off-topic in your comment, so if that is why you think of deleting the comment, that's not necessary IMHO.

      Sorry if this comment is too rambly, I just let it loose since the topic is relevant to it. I'll likely delete this sometime later.

      I don't think there is anything off-topic in your comment, so if that is why you think of deleting the comment, that's not necessary IMHO.

      1 vote
  8. Apos
    Link
    I use Opera. I don't have 100s of tabs, but I did configure my browser to always reopen my tabs and browser windows. Even after a computer or browser crash. They even get restored to the right...

    I use Opera.

    I don't have 100s of tabs, but I did configure my browser to always reopen my tabs and browser windows. Even after a computer or browser crash. They even get restored to the right monitor.

    I tend to have multiple browser windows open to separate the tabs for different subjects. When a window has been opened too long and I don't visit those tabs often, I can right click a tab in that window and select Save tabs as Speed Dial folder. Speed Dial in Opera is meant to be more dynamic than bookmarks. Tabs that I don't plan to read go down the trash can. I saw other more complicated workflows, but I like to keep it simple.

    1 vote
  9. [2]
    Kelsier
    Link
    I am not sure if this is what you are looking for, but Firefox containers allow you to make separate profiles for different use cases. So all your personal tabs go in one container, work tabs in...

    I am not sure if this is what you are looking for, but Firefox containers allow you to make separate profiles for different use cases. So all your personal tabs go in one container, work tabs in other, and so on.

    1 vote
    1. unknown user
      Link Parent
      Thanks! But I was just curious about other people's workflow. I happen to prefer profiles over containers.

      Thanks! But I was just curious about other people's workflow. I happen to prefer profiles over containers.

  10. [11]
    dblohm7
    Link
    I am a notorious tab hoarder - my daily driver is Firefox Nightly as of last December it had over 3600 tabs open. Lots of those tabs were for content that I wanted to view, but didn't consider to...

    I am a notorious tab hoarder - my daily driver is Firefox Nightly as of last December it had over 3600 tabs open. Lots of those tabs were for content that I wanted to view, but didn't consider to be permanent enough to warrant bookmarks. I started saving them to Pocket instead, which seems to be working for me. YMMV.

    1 vote
    1. [8]
      unknown user
      Link Parent
      FWIW, Instapaper is cheaper than Pocket (of which I used Premium for a year or so) and---in my experience---quite faster on Android. I imported my stuff from Pocked a few weeks ago and never...

      FWIW, Instapaper is cheaper than Pocket (of which I used Premium for a year or so) and---in my experience---quite faster on Android. I imported my stuff from Pocked a few weeks ago and never looked back.

      Pocket is Mozilla but it is still closed source.

      2 votes
      1. hook
        Link Parent
        There is also Wallabag, which is a superb FOSS Pocket replacement. You can either use the service of https://wallabag.it or host it yourself.

        There is also Wallabag, which is a superb FOSS Pocket replacement. You can either use the service of https://wallabag.it or host it yourself.

        2 votes
      2. [4]
        dblohm7
        Link Parent
        The client is open source, but not the backend.

        The client is open source, but not the backend.

        1 vote
        1. [3]
          unknown user
          Link Parent
          IIRC you work at Mozilla, so are you aware of any plans to open-source the backend? I've digged and found a few articles from when the acquisition happened which mentions the plans to open-source,...

          IIRC you work at Mozilla, so are you aware of any plans to open-source the backend? I've digged and found a few articles from when the acquisition happened which mentions the plans to open-source, but AFAIU that didn't happen yet.

          I'd still give Pocket a chance just because it belongs to Mozilla, but Instapaper is cheaper (half the price), and Pocket's Android app is unusably slow and glitchy, unfortunately.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            dblohm7
            Link Parent
            Initially we we were told that yes, the backend was going to be open sourced. I haven't heard anything about it since then. While Pocket is part of Mozilla, they are still run as a separate...

            Initially we we were told that yes, the backend was going to be open sourced. I haven't heard anything about it since then. While Pocket is part of Mozilla, they are still run as a separate subsidiary where their CEO reports to a C-level executive at Mozilla Corporation, so I don't hear as much about what is going on over there as I do from other parts of the org.

            3 votes
            1. unknown user
              Link Parent
              Thanks!

              Thanks!

              1 vote
      3. [2]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        So, have you ever checked out Pinboard? If you've never heard of it, I highly recommend you browse the site and get a feel for it. As far as I can tell, it's basic account ($11/yr) and its...

        So, have you ever checked out Pinboard? If you've never heard of it, I highly recommend you browse the site and get a feel for it. As far as I can tell, it's basic account ($11/yr) and its archival account ($25/yr) options are cheaper than Instapaper or Pocket's premium options, though I don't know all the features that each includes or misses.

        Still, I've been tossing around the idea of picking up one of these services for bookmarking, and I'm pretty darn sure that I'm going to choose Pinboard.

        1 vote
        1. unknown user
          Link Parent
          Yeah, I'm aware of Pinboard. My main purpose with these apps is reading offline: I use metro frequently and there is no signal there; on the ferry and on the bus it is always erratic. I find that...

          Yeah, I'm aware of Pinboard. My main purpose with these apps is reading offline: I use metro frequently and there is no signal there; on the ferry and on the bus it is always erratic. I find that if I don't read stuff from my reading list during commute, I tend to never read anything from there, so Instapaper has been really useful to me.

          Pinboard is really useful as a permanent store for important bookmarks, but I use Zotero for that, which is a FOSS app for personal research library management, i.e. I shove all the papers and PDF books I read or intend to read into that, along with snapshots of important web pages (there is a Firefox extension for doing that seamlessly).

          2 votes
    2. [2]
      hungariantoast
      Link Parent
      Serious question, how do you not run out of memory? I've never used the feature of Firefox that preserves tabs after each session of closing and reopening the browser, but I'm assuming that, if...

      Serious question, how do you not run out of memory?

      I've never used the feature of Firefox that preserves tabs after each session of closing and reopening the browser, but I'm assuming that, if you set Firefox to remember your current tabs, close the browser, and reopen, it does not load any of the preserved tabs until you visit them again. Is that right? Is that how you manage to have so many tabs open?

      1. dblohm7
        Link Parent
        That's right: Firefox does not load the page content for a tab until the first time that you show it. Furthermore, in version 57 a change was made to significantly reduce the information required...

        That's right: Firefox does not load the page content for a tab until the first time that you show it. Furthermore, in version 57 a change was made to significantly reduce the information required for an unloaded tab to exist in the tab strip. I couldn't get past around 1100 tabs before 57, but it has since enabled my bad habit to get me up to the number that I have today.

        1 vote
  11. clem
    Link
    I don't have hundreds open, but dozens; I spend most of my time watching my toddler son and have only a few minutes here and there for my own interests. I find something interesting but don't have...

    I don't have hundreds open, but dozens; I spend most of my time watching my toddler son and have only a few minutes here and there for my own interests. I find something interesting but don't have time to read/file/respond to it properly, so it sits open until I find the time for it or, more likely, find something else that interests me more and seems more worth my limited time. So there it sits.

  12. lionirdeadman
    Link
    When I have a lot of tabs it's usually because I'll be in a list and will pick a bunch of options because I know refreshing the page will give different results. So for example : I'd go on the...

    When I have a lot of tabs it's usually because I'll be in a list and will pick a bunch of options because I know refreshing the page will give different results.

    So for example : I'd go on the main page of ~ and pick a few topics which I think are interesting and start reading and interacting with each other and close them one by one.

    If I need them long-term, I just bookmark them.

  13. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I have an extension that archives any tab that’s inactive for more than 15 minutes. I can whitelist domains. I don’t remember the last time I retrieved a tab from there.

    I have an extension that archives any tab that’s inactive for more than 15 minutes. I can whitelist domains. I don’t remember the last time I retrieved a tab from there.