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The New Firefox and Ridiculous Numbers of Tabs (metafluff.com)
984 points by robin_reala on July 21, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 537 comments

I'm really glad that people at Mozilla use ridiculous numbers of tabs too. Lazy-loading of tabs is the reason I switched to firefox. I'm not sure if it's still this way, but Chrome used to load every tab on startup. So even if you only had 100 tabs, you were looking at 5+ minute startup time. God-forbid that any of them were Youtube, or you'd have to go through and pause them all.

I've just updated to Firefox 55 to test this, and the improvement is ridiculous. I hope that Firefox focuses more on power users in the future.

I'm curious what the author uses to manage all of these tabs. I use Tab Groups, but I think they won't work in a few Firefox versions so I'm looking for alternatives.

So even if you only had 100 tabs

This is fucking surreal. Why on Earth would anyone want 100 open tabs, besides testing? What's the real life scenario we're looking at here?

I wish tabs/windows worked more like persistent "workspaces".

For example, say I'm booking a trip. I always open a bunch of sites (Kayak, Booking.com, lots of hotels, Google Maps, places to visit, etc.) in a single window. In pre-computer times it would be like covering a desk with a ton of papers, books and notes. Gradually I will figure out stuff, book the trip, etc. but the tabs can stay for quite a while.

I feel like many "dozens of tabs" windows are little projects like this. For example, doing development I typically have a bunch of documentation tabs open. We keep these windows open because there's no way to stash them into a drawer while they're not actively being worked on.

What browsers lack is a good way to treat these tabs as "persistent workspaces". I'd like to be able to close a window and be able to return to it later. Rather like an IDE which remembers your open files. So I wish I could "save" a window (as a "workspace") under a name, after which every action would automatically update the saved workspace. Close the window, workspace stays saved. Open the workspace, everything is restored.

There are some browser extensions that allow saving groups of tabs, but there aren't any that behave like I described above.

Firefox used to have this feature, but it was removed. You need to install this extension now: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tab-groups-pa...

Unfortunately, this extension, too will soon die when Firefox no longer supports legacy addons.

I think there is a new Firefox experiment that behaves somewhat like this: https://testpilot.firefox.com/experiments/containers

IIRC https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tab-groups/?s... is a replacement

Container tabs is totally different, that's about basically having multiple profiles in one window. E.g you can have the work container logged into your work email and work stuff, and your personal container logged in to your personal email and personal stuff, and they don't know about each other. Like incognito, but persistent and within the same window.

That looks really good! I'll have to try it out first, but it makes me more hopeful about Firefox's future.

Will it work after the legacy addons support is removed? If yes, how can you tell? I couldn't find any related keywords I know on the addon's page.

I didn't know of this one, is its tab management any good ? As in how do you move tabs around groups, open/duplicat/close tabs and groups ?

The 'simplified' in its name makes me doubtful it has any of the advanced features I need.

No idea, I haven't used tab groups in a year, so I've never tried the new version.

These "redone" addons that work post 57 start out pretty bare-minimum but they rapidly gain features.

I've been looking for something just like this for Chrome but haven't quite found it yet.

According to its developer it is the only of his extensions that may have a shot at surviving webextensions, though requires a rewrite and dropping of some of the useful features.

  Tab Groups has a shot. I took on this project after it was
  decided to remove the built-in Tab Groups from Firefox, as
  I thought it could be a good and fun learning experience;
  it hasn't been, if anything it's been stressful and
  time-consuming. I don't really use groups outside of my
  development profile, with my browsing habits I only find
  them useful to a point, they're helpful for my
  development/coding workflow, but I've used them maybe twice
  in my main profile during normal browsing.
  Its core functionality and basic workflow probably can be
  made into a WebExtension, but only after an almost complete
  rewrite of the code (with some major work done on Firefox's
  side as well!), and still stripped down of at least some of
  its features. Many of the new groups features I've wanted
  to add since the beginning are impossible though, for the
  same reason as I mentioned above: they either don't fit the
  scope of what can be allowed through WebExtensions or their
  implementation would be far too complex to do on my own.

Are the "groups" persistent and tied to the window? So if you change the tabs around, close the window, then "open" the group again, you will get exactly what you had?

They are persistent, but I don't think they are tied to a window (I mainly just use one). But your groups are kept as you left them after restarting.

I have 7 groups right now on my home machine, and that many or more on my work machine. Each has a few to a large number of tabs in it. I have about 28 in my current one. Each group contains tabs about a different topic, such as daily visit sites, searches and articles for ongoing development in a particular language, research into specific projects, or random lookups.

I also use the Tree View Tabs extension which show tabs in a hierarchical list on the left, instead of across the top. This is a better use of space for me and shows the relationships of tabs.

I am going to miss both of these severely if the XUL plugins go away this fall as they are saying. My web workflow is much more efficient with them, at least in Firefox. I like using Chrome, but with a lot of pages open I just have a squished up mass of tabs across the top that can't be easily read, it's a big bother.

Anyway, I wish there were more extensions for more browsers that improved the state of managing large groups of tabs by topic.

Last time I tried the groups that were opened when quitting firefox would reopen at next launch but you could not "reopen" a closed group. Having more than one window was asking for trouble as in risking losing all your groups and tabs because there another firefox window opened in the background or the downthemall manager window when you closed the main firefox windows.

Workaround is to always quit firefox using the ctrl+q shortcut, though at times groups will reopen with the correct number of tabs but they're all empty.

Best bet is to manually save your session at times.

I LOVE tab groups. I'm hoping a WebExtension version comes out before FF57.

It's impossible to go back once you get used to that UX.

Nope, it didn't have that feature, though it had some basic foundations. It got removed as several others firefox features for no good reasons.

There's also tab groups and tab groups helper but those are about to disappear[1] and make firefox useless for this use case.

[1]: http://fasezero.com/

Yep. I found that feature very useful before. Really sad when it was removed.

Edge has this since Creators update. Unfortunately, Edge is pretty bad in ways that actually matter (UI responsiveness, reliability).

Edge is useless outside of recent windows version.

Vivaldi has tab groups, and lets you put the tab bar on the side (where it becomes kind of like a tree).


I'm pretty happy with OneTab https://www.one-tab.com/

I just want one feature added to it, the ability to just add one tab instead of all open tabs.

Right click on the page, select "only this tab to one tab"

Thanks ! did not know about this one. It lacks the ability to sort tabs by activity and is messy when you have 150+ tabs over 20 activities, also lack the visual preview of tab content but it's still useful.

Wow, that's freaking awesome. Definitely using this from now on. Thanks!

yes, OneTab is the thing! No need to have a million tabs open. It also lets you export the links as text

same, has helped tremendously

You had all that in the old Opera browser, but people liked slower and more resource-consuming alternatives better.

Opera was a damn fine browser. Used it upto version 12 from version 6 onwards. IE sucked during those days. All those widgets that nobody knew about. Opera was too ahead of its times and now it has moved to chromium which is really bad.

I miss Opera 12 so much :'(

Otter[1] has made much progress in recreating the opera 12 experience.


I miss it dearly too, buddy, it was a real joy to use.

I use separate browser windows across actual Ubuntu/centos work spaces to separate ny contexts.

My project context has a chrome window with all my task related tabs, my terminal window and my IDE. My communication context has my tickets, slack and other communications in it. Then there is one more context with podcasts, spotify or non project docs and reading.

It wasn't something I set out to achieve either, it just happened naturally once I started using shortcut keys to switch between workspaces.

> So I wish I could "save" a window (as a "workspace") under a name

Naming would be too much explicit action for my taste (might as well go back to the lost ancient art of bookmark management), but I think most usage patterns of grouping tabs in windows would work much better if each window had some kind of designated primary tab (leftmost tab?) defining a more permanent window identity than using whatever tab is currently active for window naming.

Planning a trip is spot on for my gripes with ephemeral browser window names: "The Maps Window" might have a hotel website currently active (that might get promoted to its own window if the hotel makes it to my shortlist) while two of five windows for candidate hotels have a maps tab (individual hotel surroundings) active. Now every attempt of going back to "The Maps Window" will be a voyage big enough to forget why you wanted to look at maps in the first place.

I use the one called Session Buddy. It allows to save all tabs in one chrome window as one session, and allows you to open all those anytime, as well as to export as html. Also, autosave session just like Microsoft office autosave function. I will post link from pc in few hours.

Not related anyway except as happy user

It's time to deprecate bookmarks in browsers, and add workspaces.

Don't touch my bookmarks! I have all my tabs in my headspace at all times, I need bookmarks to mentally organize my stuff in the short-term/long-term category.

If bookmarks are deprecated I'll have to save workspaces made up of a single page and I'll just feel silly.

Edit: Plus you can use bookmark folders as workspaces already I guess? I don't but you can, fairly easily!

Merge, not replace. If there's a special bookmark group that dynamically contains current tabs, then you have the best of both.

Let a group of tabs be a bookmark folder that has the "show" attribute set, and so dynamically tracks what is shown.

Want to show all tabs in a group/folder? Toggle show.

Bookmarks sucks ! link rot makes them useless and it's time consuming and tedious if not impossible to manage when you have a lot of them.

I use wallabag instead which is basically bookmarks with a local snapshot of content that you can easily classify and sort.

Can you just open a new window as a "workspace" and have tabs within that window?

In Chrome you can "Bookmark all tabs" by pressing Ctrl+Shift+D or right clicking any tab and choosing that option. Then just close the window and when you want to bring them back later, in the bookmark tree you can right click a folder and say "open all tabs in a new window".

They all reload, which is not ideal.

Not the same thing. The behaviour isn't "persistent": If you add or remove tabs to the window, the bookmark folder isn't automatically updated. Re-bookmarking every time you make a change isn't an option. You also lose state (history, forms, scroll position).

Also, they allow duplicates I guess.

The built in spaces feature of Firefox was quite good for making multiple desktops for different projects. It was still in Firefox the last time I checked.

I've been trying to work like this but I just can't. So far I found no way of actually confining each activity into its own window. Mainly because opening a new page from an external applications opens it in a seemingly random opened window. I finally abandoned the idea and just use tab searching extension

Folders of bookmarks?

Requires automatic two-way syncing. Browsers have, for a long time, supported restoring a bookmark folder into a window as tabs. But if you then change the tabs, the bookmarks aren't automatically updated. This is one of the missing pieces.

Additionally opening a bookmark fold as tabs does not support lazy loading so it will bog down your computer when you open all the bookmarks.

I speculate that general-purpuse virtual machine management software would fit the bill quite well

How would this help with the scenario described by the OP? Are you suggesting starting a new virtual machine instead of a new browser window?

Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting. VMs can be named, saved and loaded straightforwardly.

That's massive overhead for managing a set of tabs which is exactly what Firefox is trying to avoid.

This functionality exists with bookmarks.

FF allows you to bookmark all the tabs you have open into a bookmarks folder.

It also provides a button at the bottom of the folder "open all in tabs"

This works well enough for my taste, but I also use pinned tabs for stuff like fb messenger

But you lose the state the tabs were in, which means risk of losing hours of work and tedious work to restore each state.

Not even mentioning dealing with managing several thousands of bookmarks, duplicates, link rot, and so on. Definitely impractical for power users use case.

Hey, great idea ! I'm just use Firefox in the same way. Here i couldn't say thé fox is finnish. On linux it's thé best.

I'm using zeerka.com for exactly that: research projects that are saved as groups of links. And it's browser agnostic.

Along the lines of your analogy, I wouldn't have papers strewn all over the desk, I'd have them in a pile or in a folder. Reversing the analogy I feel this is similar to using bookmarks or saving a list of links.

"Session Buddy" on Chrome has been really useful for me.

It lets you save and group open tas and windows, plus export them as list. (No affiliation)


Session Manager does the same for Firefox (not sure if it's been ported to the new addon model)

I use onetab though it only saves the tabs and can only be exported as plain text but it fills all my needs.

I used to be a big OneTab user, but Session Buddy really is a lot better for reviewing, saving, loading, and editing your windows and sessions. If you've never used it, I'd recommend giving it a try.

Serious example: learning a new subfield. You start with the general article in wikipedia, trying to get a gist of the field. Cue 20 or more wiki pages for new terms and ideas. As you learn the terms, you get ideas and have to see if they have been done before. Cue up another 20~30 tabs of searches. Eventually start looking at articles. Each one has 10 figures which can be opened in new tabs for high-resolution viewing, and about half of them have supplementary information which is best viewed concurrently. Add transient personal tasks, email, any other searches (online shopping), and it is not uncommon to see 150 or more tabs. Then as the project winds down the tabs get whittled down, too. Then start looking at the detailed references. After just a week of reading, you can easily end up with 100 tabs of "things to read later.the course of a week long re 10 tabs of other references and things that I searched for, but won't s

Why abuse the browser in this way? Tabs are a fifo buffer for web pages. Opening something in a new tab allows one to read/act on it when the current tab is closed, without interrupting the mental state / flow relating to the current tab. Pages loaded in new tabs are also opened in the background, so there is no interruption while waiting for pages to load.

As usual, there's a relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/609/

From 2009, so rather ahead of the curve.

Not ahead of the curve at all, it describes a quite common use of the web for power users. I've had the habits 100+ tabs open in browsers a few years before maxthon released its international version in 2006.

Opera was that one browser that really enabled that workflow very well back in the day. Having several dozen tabs open was pretty common, even as far back as Opera 6 (2001 I think?).

I wish that were still true of Cracked.

I am tab hoarder. It's a serious problem. So many links that I want to read. But I don't feel like doing it right now. And I know for certain that if I put it into a bookmark, I will never ever look at it again. So they sit on my tab bar for months until I get around to it.

Looking at my current open tabs, most of them are dense "boring" reading material like scientific papers (or reddit/HN discussions of them.) I feel they are important to read but don't feel motivated to do so ever.

I've never gotten to 100 tabs before. For entirely practical reasons, that Chrome can't handle it. It runs out of memory and grinds my computer to a halt. So I had to triage away the least important tabs and bookmark them or force myself to read them, just to keep my computer running. I just starting using firefox though, which is not helping this bad habit.

Hello, you mention it as a serious problem. I agree and I think it's good to be aware of it.

I don't believe it should be up to the browser to deal with tabs. I don't actually believe tabs are a particularly good representation of browsing.

Using extremely light browsers such as surf (http://surf.suckless.org) in a good window manager such as i3 (https://i3wm.org) makes each page a first class window, without any browser clutter.

You soon learn to browse with as few pages open as possible. Opening new tabs is a promise to spend time in the future. Using simpler linear navigation helps keeping focus. I want to know why I'm browsing, not hoping that I go through every tab that I lazily felt I might need to see in some open-ended future. The web is broken but with some effort you can alienate most of the cruft from your usage.

"You're holding it wrong"?

Greetings fellow hoarder. Should you be using Chrome I highly recommend the great suspender. It will unload tabs from memory if they're not used after a set time. That way one can open and return at your leisure without as much of an impact.

That sounds interesting. What happened when you return to a suspended tab?

It's immediately reloaded. As far as I can remember you can set it to reload from cache or it will download it again.

In my experience (unlike my sibling comment), it displays a mostly blank page with a "click to reload" link.

I am in the same boat as you. I hoard on tabs, having over 200 Chrome tabs on my macbook pro, over 350 on the Ubuntu desktop, same over 350 on the Windows Desktop and 16 Safari tabs on my iPhone 6. Finally to help with this issue I made https://summarybrew.com

Same. I stopped using bookmarks around 1999 or so because I found them to be a terrible solution to anything, really (it was a graveyard where links went to die, and this was before bookmark syncing was a thing, so you always forgot to back them up as well).

I've tried all the third-party type attempt to solve it (everything from saving the links in a textfile I always keep open to ReadItLater, OneTab, Pocket etc. All those things are where tabs go to die, never to be read again. More like ReadItNever, amirite?). That's a "solution" I guess.

Now I try to be more selective in what I "keep" to read later, and as soon as I hit 40-50 tabs, I go through and kill a bunch of them. It hurts a bit, but not as bad as when I have hundreds of tabs.

I am tab hoarder. It's a serious problem. So many links that I want to read. But I don't feel like doing it right now. And I know for certain that if I put it into a bookmark, I will never ever look at it again. So they sit on my tab bar for months until I get around to it.

You are not alone.

I've never gotten to 100 tabs before. For entirely practical reasons, that Chrome can't handle it. It runs out of memory and grinds my computer to a halt.

Yep, been there before too. My "light" laptop only has 6GB of RAM, so Chrome starts to dog out pretty quick if I go tab crazy on it. It can handle about 25 tabs and then it starts freezing the entire system for minutes at a time.

Fortunately my "big" machine has 32GB of RAM and an i7 processor so it can handle 4 or 5 Chrome windows each with oodles of tabs, 2 or 3 Eclipse instances, and various server processes all running at the same time. I just can't bear carrying that thing around because it weighs a frickin' ton. :-(

Yep, another here. I have tabs that have been there in FF for several months ...

I also have to run a FF and a Chromium (two separate Google accounts is basically unmanageable without separate browsers). This is enough to fill 8GB. Good Lord the web is fat these days.

Chrome has profiles. I use multiple profiles for this. You can easily have two or more profiles loaded and running at the same time, and each has its own cookie jar/login set. When I need to do it on a borrowed computer, then I just use incognito mode for the second profile.

I also use chrome profiles to separate my workspaces, so I don't have to load everything all the time and search through my tabs to find the one I want. I even sync them to different accounts.

Mobile is the only place I use multiple browsers, due to mobile browsers not supporting multiple windows, even though chrome has already had the functionality for it in the past (remember the chrome 'desktop' when chrome ran in metro mode? Alternatively, just have multiple entries in overview). On my tablet I have six browsers, which is probably more than I really need; two incognito browsers and four mobile browsers. Various combinations of add-ons (firefox) and not (chrome), incognito (focus and inbrowser) browsers, and browsers (chrome) with JavaScript disabled.

> (two separate Google accounts is basically unmanageable without separate browsers)

You can use Firefox's container tabs for this.

Exactly the same here. For Example at the moment it is Crypto Currency. Likely in the range of 50 Tabs.

Like you said about the boring material. I wouldn't think of them as boring. But detailed, and basically takes a long time to grasp. I will need to spend at least an hour or two on the topic. And i since it is not the most important things in life This two hours schedules gets put away for the time being.

Then there is the Apple News tabs hoard which happens in Apple Events.

I'm a hoarder in recovery, I try to consciously limit the number of tabs I open these days.

If I see a tab open that I haven't looked at in a while, I try to make the effort to either submit it to Pocket or Pinboard, and then close it.

You could argue that's just moving the problem elsewhere, but I like to think I'm making at least some organisation effort.

I have found Pocket to be very helpful in this regard. The key is to set it as your default page upon tab creation.

Using a bookmark manager like diigo might let you save those articles with your own keywords and search on those topics later.

The feature I like best about diigo is for what I do read, I can highlight the sentences I want to recall or locate later.

That just puts it out of sight, out of mind. I have thousands of meticulously tagged tabs, including a tag called "toread". I think I can count the number of those I've read without taking my shoes off. And if I want something in the future I generally find myself googling it.

But I have on more than one occasion been unable to remember how I got to a page, or even how to search for it, and in those times I found my system invaluable.

I find I don't bookmark a page as much as bookmark a sentence in my mind.

Less out of sight as well, the next time I do a google search, diigo plugin injects my existing stuff beside the search. I like the offline copy it keeps for me like you said.

It's not perfect but not a sinkhole of bookmarks.

Just don't use chrome, it is not at all suited for this use case.

FWIW if you use a side-tabs addon like Tab Center (Tab Center Redux on newer Firefox) or Tree Style Tabs it's easier to manage.

Chrome also just tinifies tabs as you add them (eventually making them little slivers that are hard to click on/close and impossible to identify), whereas Firefox stops shrinking them at one size and then lets you scroll through them. This itself makes it easier to have more tabs. So if you're a Chrome user having 100 tabs may feel excessive, but given that the experience is pretty pleasant in Firefox a lot of folks have workflows around this. If something is hard to do you'll never discover workflows that need that functionality :)

On top of that, the addons I mentioned make the experience even better.

For me I have >100 tabs often because I'm working on many things, and each thing may have 3-5 tabs open (github issues, code, a million documentation tabs), and I'm also reading news articles and such, and often queue up things to read later as more tabs that I get to eventually. Pretty easy to get there.

Speaking strictly for me: tabs with articles I urgently need to read, tabs with articles that I really ought to have read, tabs with articles that I've long since forgotten to close. All the same, really, just with varying degrees of guilt. Also, um, Google searches for quick notes that I couldn't be bothered to open an actual note-taking application for.

I start doing that, but have made an effort to always start a week with a fresh browser, one tab open. If I haven't read the article before the week was up, clearly it wasn't important enough.

In principle I agree, but in practice... I can't let go of my hoarding ways. What if there's a nugget of information hiding in all those tabs that could ︎change my life?

Frequent occurrence, in my experience.

And I'm very happy about better support for this kludge, but I do wish that someone would get to the roots of the needs that cause this use of tabs, and design the correct interface for it instead.

They kind of did with Firefox, it was tab groups, started as a plugin, they integrated it, and then they dropped the feature (I assume) because almost no one (except me) used it.

You could create visual groups and lay out sets of tabs and even name the sets, and switch between them at will. It was awesome.

I vaguely think I had the extension version at some point but it was probably in an awkward stage then.. I never really noticed the integrated version.

From the way you describe it I think it sounds like a great start for at least some of the needs driving this. I suspect in many cases heavy multi-tab use comes from a need to lay out sets of documents for use together in some sort of spatial metaphor. The traditional desktop model often does a pretty good job of covering this for local files and native programs, but I find browsers to be far weaker at supporting it.

As a complement, for the potentially-life-changing(-but-not-right-now-for-goodness-sake) things and other valuable resources I will almost certainly never find my way back to otherwise, I think it might be a nice start if I had a 1-keypress way to drop them, with metadata, into an local, indexed archive. The followup challenge to that would be a really good interface to getting stuff out again. Tools like Zotero could in principle cover the first part of this niche automatically already, but I wouldn't want the backlog archive (sluggishly) dropped together with my references without any shadow of compartmentalization, so I don't really view that as a ready solution.

Try Vivaldi.

It also has a very interesting fresh take on history.

Do you folks happen to have Kindles? I use instapaper to save articles as I come across them and then have it all wrapped up and sent to my Kindle once a week. My own customized magazine to read throughout the week as I see fit on an easy on the eyes e-ink format.

I call it "information hoarding". The struggle is real.

The best part is when you wait so long that the link breaks when you finally open the tab, and then you feel free because it wasn't really your fault that you didn't read it!

Here's the way I do it... I setup a Gmail account that I only use to "save" links. Anytime I encounter an article that looks interesting and want to save, I just tap the browser menu, tap "Share" and share it to that email account. Works great and no more hassles with bookmarks and open tabs.

I just checked and I currently have 450+ tabs open. I closed around 100 the other day. I work on a number of projects at the same time, so I'll often have a bunch of documentation open for one project and then switch to the next one without closing everything.

I also research a project and then wait a while before starting it. This helps me get a better perspective on the project. I'll often leave my research open in a tab group so that when I start the project I can very quickly review everything and get up to speed. Using bookmarks in this scenario doesn't really work because bookmarks don't save session state very well.

Same use case here (with aprox. the same amount of tabs). I'd like to add that leaving a project's tabs open also helps me easily remember where I was in implementing a specific project, especially when I need to work on another project as its dependency. It's much more convenient than keeping notes or following last changes.

The point made is that different people will use software in different and unexpected ways. Assuming that people use browsers the same way you do, or assuming that a certain scenarios are "impossible" because you personally are not likely to encounter it will harm your userbase.

Do you have any add-ons to manage that? I don't mean to tell you how to work but that doesn't seem optimal. There is probably a better way than having over 400 tabs open.

FF searches open tabs when you type in the url bar. (Officially the "Awesomebar" and the name is kind of earned but it is to cool for me.)

Also many of us (I think) use some kind of vertical nested tabs.

I use a similar workflow to research or keep different projects open. I like tools like diigo that let me keyword bookmark and hifhlughy the text I want from these links into one place. Makes it much easier to come back later and find where I was or had left off even if those tabs are lost or closed.

I usually have around 400 tabs open across 10 windows. They build up because I have many things that I intend to read, use or reference but I don't want to stash them and forget to read them like with Pocket or normal bookmarks. So I keep them open in a window so that I can return to whatever I was researching or working on some time soon.

Just an example: I'm working on an ML model, I begin by researching prior work. I get down to 100 or 200 related papers in google scholar. I start going through the papers until I find the ones that are closest to what I'm looking for. I leave the tabs of the 10 or so papers that I have found open. Now I have 12 tabs open: 10 related papers, my specific google scholar search and my general google scholar search. As I go through the related papers I will happen upon different ideas, libraries/tools or referenced papers that I want to return to. These tend to build up and you can easily get to 6 or 7 per paper. By the time I finish 4 related papers I could have 40 tabs open. This whole process happened over the course of 30-40 minutes. I also tend to find new keywords to use in google while I'm reading these papers which I then produce more google scholar searches from and repeat this same process over again. Now imagine having done this many times over with various projects you're working on but not necessarily required to finish. That's how you end up with a few thousand tabs in onetab and 400 tabs open in chrome.

I have the same issue of not reading things I bookmark... Until recently, when I installed Random Bookmark add-on which allows me to open random bookmarks. So now when I'm bored I just click it a lot and finally read those bookmarks.

Also exists in pinboard I think.

I don't understand why some people think it's weird. Folks with tabs in the 100s just have a different workflow from you.

If I google something, I like having a few different sources or points of view, so I open a bunch of tabs to look through.

Sometimes, I want to switch to a different task, so I collapse that tab tree for looking at later.

Sometimes, inside that tree, there's another topic of interest I want to know about, so I create another tree (with 3-5 tabs for different sources) inside.

I have a tree for music, various trees for work, various trees for interesting topics, leisure, etc.

You absolutely right that it's just different workflows, for different people. The weirdness comes up when someone like me meet someone with 20+ tabs, because I wouldn't now how to work like that. If I end up with 10 or 15 tabs during a session where I'm researching something, I'll often pause to close down all the those tabs, because they're a mental burden.

So some of us think 100s of tabs are weird, because there's no way we could get any work done, before closing down those tabs.

For us, the tabs that aren't relevant to our current task just disappear. It's not in our sphere of perception for as long as we don't need it. Furthermore, we think it's a huge waste of time to go back to a previous task if we've closed the tabs. That means we need to waste a ton of energy and cognitive effort recreating state.

Some people effectively use tabs as bookmarks.

Or, if you want to look at it the other way, bookmarks are just tabs that don't load until you click on them.

Bookmarks are tabs that you're sure you want to keep permanently.

Bookmarks are where links go to die, never to be opened again.

I wouldn't say "die." A link that is never opened again can serve a few useful purposes if it is indexed among a user's bookmarks. (discovering these purposes is left as an exercise to the reader)

Bookmarks are stateless hence useless for many use cases.

I'm a Firefox fan and a strong evangelist of it (in my circles). For a long time, I have been using Firefox with several open windows and a few hundred (not just 100) tabs. Why do I do that? Firstly, I research many topics (being in tech and also having some specific focused interests in other areas that require more reading and learning) and need a way to capture information that I have to look at - scan, skim, read completely, etc. Secondly, there is currently no good interface available, at least for me, that keeps things visible as well as quickly accessible (preserving history would be a bonus).

All the bookmarks I have ever saved in my life on any browser remain without being touched because it's just another bunch of stuff hidden away with no context or relationships. So I stopped using bookmarks a long time ago (for frequently accessed sites, the Awesome Bar fulfills the needs). I have the same attitude with all the bookmarking and "read later" services. For me, if something is out of sight, it soon gets out of mind. This is where tabs help me focus on different subjects/areas much better than bookmarks (or even a page that has all tabs listed). I can easily find what I had put in a group of tabs and decide when to get to them. It's not perfect. Sometimes I find that some tabs are no longer interesting or that I don't have time for them, and so close them after several days or weeks.

I've seen some experimental stuff from Mozilla on improving bookmarking and addressing the issues with "save for later". One such effort was Dropzilla [1] in 2012, which I was impressed with. But it seemed like that was abandoned soon or not carried forward (if anyone has updates on this that I may have missed, please let me know).

Firefox has also been, in my experience (not meaning to start a browser war here), much better at memory management. In comparison, I consider Chrome as a toy that's useful as long as you don't want too many tabs (otherwise it just brings the system to a crawl). Stability wise too, I find Firefox extensions to be of much better quality. To date, I can't get session restore working well or undoing tab close working well in Chrome. Same goes for switching proxies quickly and other things too.

So, what I need is a browser that can handle hundreds of tabs well. For me that has always been Firefox, ahead by far.

[1]: https://blog.mozilla.org/ux/2012/10/save-for-later/

I also have many tabs open. Usually, 200+ because I research. Here's how the workflow goes:

- client asks for a say an audio player integration into an app

1. Research bunch of open-source audio player libraries available on Github. This is easily 20+tabs

2. Additional, sometimes temporary tabs get opened when researching individual libraries (like their documentation page, etc)

3. I want to pick a library, save the state if this research and go to implementation. (I create a new window)

4. Open documentation for the library or its Readme and start implementing, use Google, or stackoverflow.com as needed. Save state of this (don't) meaning, don't close it;nowadays i use bookmarks if it's a task i wont get back to soon)

Now, I'd have a bunch if tasks like this. Personal, professional, hobby projects, etc. Tabs should be cheap and should be lazy loaded. You should even be able to hibernate tabs manually (Vivaldi (chrome clone) let's you do this)

This is Me. The guy with a lot of tabs open. Sorry.

Whenever I find something interesting, i open it in a new tab, read it little bit and leave it there thinking - I will get back to it later which never happens. Later on when it is getting enough that I can't open a new tab then using tab-snap extension I copy list of all the tabs open and email it to myself. This email list is like my own mini knowledge dump which have helped me retrieving things later on when required.

I have had about 100-200 tabs open in my browsers for years.

The reason being that session management is terrible or non existent and bookmarks is horribly broken.

With firefox I have a bunch of extension and groups my tabs by activities. I guess some power users do so because it's more convenient and practical than having to remember one or two dozen URLs and reopen them when coming back to an activity later on.

Right now I've got five browser windows up with about 30 tabs apiece... Most of the tabs i don't HAVE to have up, but my usual pattern is open app i'm working on, open some documentation, open up another app tab for a different scenario, remember some other docs I need, go to HN and open 8 tabs of stories I want to read over the next hour, open a debugger window on the first tab, open a doc window on emacs to figure out how to do some thing i used to know how to do in vim really easily, then i get a question from a client and switch over to another window with 22 tabs worth of their stuff in it to find the answer... then i go back to the first window and remember that documentation i was reading... after a full day of this stuff, yes, i've got a couple hundred tabs open. its a little obscene but its been working for me for a good 10 years now.

When you're reading an article on a subject you don't know much about and it cites many articles, and each of those cite many articles, it can grow quite quickly

While I generally have a few windows open with 10-25 tabs open. I know one person that sells/buys on eBay and 200+ is fairly standard

Pages I have always open, pages I open but have no time to read at the moment, pages I read at the moment. Right now (after just starting my day) I have 64 tabs, so with a bit of surfing today 100 is no problem. At times I have 200+ tabs.

edit: This was one of the reasons I loved the old Opera. It just didn't care. 50 tabs, 100 tabs, 200 tabs .. it just worked. I miss it.

Hardly surreal, that's just my workflow, which works well under Firefox, so I don't see the need to change it. Sometimes, when I reach a few hundred open tabs, I just clean them all up (at a few thousand it was usually becoming slow, so I started to clean up earlier; looks like with the new changes I might be able to reach thousands again)

I have more than 100 tabs on mobile. FYI, the indicator changes to a smiley.

It's easy to cross that threshold when you're doing research.

30 for hacker news items

30 more for each comment page

20 for google news

10 for wikipedia (conservative)

at least 20 per tool's documentation section, since all docs are now broken down into a hundred 5-kilobyte files, it seems

20 to research cheap action cams on Amazon

10 to go through some configuration guides for a cloud product

10 for random facebook feed links

and 10 for youtube rabbit-holing

So, 160 tabs I have open. It's a slow evening.

Just one data sample,

On desktop I have 4 pinned tabs, Gmail, workflowy, trello, google Calendar. Plus anywhere between 2-30+ tabs, depending upon the google term i am searching, or reading something. And none of these is Facebook Youtube Medium and such, as all these are blocked.

On my two Android phones,on main one, this one, this is tab number 98. Many of these are HN search pages, and links there on. Others include github, google, stackoverflow, jekyll, javascript related. Also, occassionally i go through, and prune tabs. Also the times I have nothing to read, I go back to these tabs, read, and then close.

The secondary work phone has 52 tabs.

Terrified of loosing all these, occassionally I use desktop google chrome option of open all tabs on other (mobile) device, and then export all those tabs to a html file.

I'm not sure if I have 100 tabs, but I have a lot. I find it easier than using bookmarks. I have several chromes open, each one with a bunch of tabs. My queen one has but list, API list, work wiki, several tabs for different logs. A couple of forums for third party products we use, bit bucket, maybe a coyote of tabs for third party documentation... For personal products I might have the skin tab open plus a couple of non admin tabs. I do this for several different sites. And so on... On my Google drive I have easily a dozen open for various documents... It adds up quickly.

I tell myself I'll read it when I have the chance so I leave it there.

It's not surreal if you think about it.

People put off cleaning there room and such... so there are bound to be people who put off reading tabs they see interesting.

If you're going to say book mark it then no. My bookmarks are a mess.

I've sent Mozilla a suggestion of doing machine learning and cluster my bookmarks for me. >___< Also if they can have topic labeling ml stuff on book mark that would be nice.

You might be interested in wallabag.

https://wallabag.org/en https://wallabag.it/en

I used to have a work flow where I opened around 100 tabs. I was "curating" pictures for my Tumblr blog by opening tabs from Feedly and then deciding to reblog it or not. At the end I had around 80-90 pages with a large picture opened. Firefox has no problem with this but Chrome was struggling after 35 tabs. Now I don't do this anymore because I wrote a web extension to reblog directly from inside Feedly.

I don't know. I have 100+ tabs almost all the times. Recently, the tab groups add on really helped me manage them, but that's going to end too with Firefox 57. I thought Panorama was one of the most useful and differentiating feature of Firefox, unfortunately they never thought of fixing its shortcomings, and since people didn't use it much due to those, they decided to end it. :-(

None of the browsers are really that good at letting you get back to things you recently looked at, or had loaded. Meanwhile there are great plugins for searching within all open tabs. When you have a wiki page that you need about ~1 time per week, and can't remember the URL for- just keep the tab open. You're augmenting your limited human memory with the computer.

> Meanwhile there are great plugins for searching within all open tabs

which is your favorite?

Opera did back when it was not a google chrome skin.

> None of the mainstream browsers

Fixed it for you. Like another person wrote, old Opera did it just fine in a period where PCs were much slower.

This is what I wonder every time someone brings this topic up. I've seen friends that have so many tabs open that each tab is barely an edge in the screen without a title or icon to identify it. It's also weird how defensive people get when you point out that those tabs might as well be closed, because they don't even know what's in them.

This isn't true of Firefox though, and if you organize them well enough, you won't have any issue with recognizing what tab is what. I have 11 tab groups, some with around 4-5 tabs, others crossing 50 easily. I've also gone to nearly 1000 tabs, as long as they're in their group and organized well, you can access them.

You never get the "without a title or icon" thing in Firefox, because it enforces a minimum tab width.

because they don't even know what's in them.

Doesn't matter. They're there for a reason. And there's still something a touch "different" about a tab, compared to a bookmark. It's hard to explain, but there really is a purpose to doing things that way.

Research man. You run into a problem coding and go into a spiral hunting through random blogs. You can mouse over tabs and use your scroll wheel to quickly flash through tabs. But yeah you do lose track. 8GB for me isn't enough I end up maxing out the ram even with i3. I do wish they turned the inactive pages into picture or something.

I do that myself too, so even for a small numbers of users, it still is a valid use case. Firefox has a bug report here about this with interesting info https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=855930

100 tabs is too much but I use anywhere around 10 to 20 tabs at any given time. And chrome on windows hangs half the time while on linux chromium is slightly better. This too with just 5 or 6 extensions. If firefox really has these ridiculous speeds then I will switch to firefox in a heartbeat.

I use tree style tabs to group tabs by "context" (scala stuff, Haskell stuff, news, stuff to read later) and I get to 100+ tabs quite fast.

Then I close the whole parent tab and sub-tabs when I'm done with a particular context, or go through my to-read-later tabs to catch up and close them.

My general 'serious' search workflow is: try googling three different keyword combinations. Open all acceptable results in new tabs. I wont lose time for loading, I already wait enough. This generally creates peaks of 50+ tabs.

However i force myself to clear everything on startup.

You wouldn't literally have 100 tabs, but the principle of the matter is that Chrome will dominate your memory.

By the way, there are extensions that will kill tabs that are inactive, but even on my 16GB MacBook Pro it doesn't take much for Chrome to start weighing things down.

Until somebody comes up with a better way to keep interesting and relevant tabs an immediate click away, I'm going to regularly habe 100-200 tabs open at any time. Bookmarks are too unwieldy and require too much of a context switch.

I read ~30 posts daily and I use tabs to postpone intreasting reads I've found through "open in new tab" on mobile. And anytime I'm doing any research I have 50+ tabs open usually.

I agree. If I have more than 10 tabs open it's pretty extraordinary.

I keep them open because I use them (docs and stuff) and then sometimes I forget I have some open so I re-open them. Sometimes I'll have 5 of the same tabs open. :-)

Sort of like a temporary bookmark. I have stuff to do, and things to finish reading, but I don't want to bookmark them. So they sit in tabs waiting.

I used "Snooze Tab," which kind of could address that: https://testpilot.firefox.com/experiments/snooze-tabs

I like having my history for a lot of things, so I can hit the back button and forward button a lot.

I had 37 tabs open in Firefox on my phone yesterday. A stack of pages to read. No slowdowns.

44 now as I read this.

I'm on beta. Had a few hangs last week but this week it is buttery smooth as usual.

Boredom or laziness. On my mobile firefox, i sometimes don't close tabs for months

> What's the real life scenario we're looking at here?

Have you ever used CloudFormation?

100 is low end for me. My sessions typically have 600 to 900.

Wikipedia Tvtrops scp-wiki.net

API research

I can easily have over 100 tabs of just Reddit open.


so, you're doing some research on 3 or 4 different simultaneous projects. one is in particle physics (a part-time interest) where you need to find related articles on nature, arxiv, vixra and the general internet. google search, click darn that was useless and took too long to load anyway, hmmm, how about i right-button open-in-new-tab on half a dozen of these pages, let them load in the background whilst i go to page 2 of those search results? ah ha! yes! that works well!

okaay, so there's now 10 potential useful articles to read, they're already loaded (yippee, saves time...) hmmm let's go through them hmm... that one's useless (close) that one's useless (close) that one looks interesting but i don't have time to read it immediately....

---->>> LET'S KEEP IT OPEN FOR NOW * <<<< ----

.... and move on whoops the phone's ringing i have to deal with a client's urgent issue, he also needs something to be fixed okay so it's an obscure issue i don't know anything about let's do some google searches damn we're under time-pressure again let's do the same trick, right-mouse-button on a stackexchange liiink, right-mouse-button open-in-new-tab on a forum paaaage, right-mouse-button on some git repository browser because i might need to compile that up or investigaaaate...

okay now the tabs are open and loaded don't have to wait for them to load let's review them... close, close, read, read, close, read.... hmm that looks like it's got the info i need, but...


okaay so i have time to go back to that particle physics research now and i can carry on where i was interrupted ...

--->>>> * BECAUSE I LEFT THE TABS OPEN.... * <<<<-----

repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. the technique saves vast amounts of time (through proper use of parallelism), uses the browser itself as a proper research tool, as well as an information storage mechanism "with history". the actual "browse history" itself i have found to be pretty damn useless, i can never find anything as it doesn't have a proper useable UI.

from your enquiry i should imagine that you're one of these people who sits there waiting for a page to load, sequentially, then closes it... sequentially. depth-first in other words. by which time it's been so long that you've forgotten what you were searching for. for those people who use internet search engines to do breadth-first searches, tabs are absolutely invaluable.

Well, until they git rid of XUL add-ons in November/FF57, I live and die by the Tab Groups extension.

I have a group of tabs for various things in AWS, a group for various things in my build system, a group for the various Jira and Confluence things, a group for mail and google docs, a group for my company's HR requirements (timesheeting), a group for programming docs, and any one of these groups can have additional tabs for idle browsing while I'm waiting for something, and I can add additional groups if I'm on a secondary project.

The way I tend to browse is to hit a page, then load several promising links in new tabs. Load them over the network in parallel, because doing everything on one tab with back/forward is painful in the extreme.

Overall, it's ridiculously easy to hit 100 tabs.

Edit: fantastic, thanks for the suggestions. Will definitely check them out.

There's a new Tree Tabs that works on 57 FWIW


not as nice as the old one (but it's improving!), I just use Tab Center Redux.

There's also talk of implementing Tree Style Tabs as a WebExtension. It appears the required APIs have been approved, they're just waiting on someone to implement them:


"Simplified Tab Groups" [1] is a similar Firefox extension and the developer says [2] he intends to make it compatible with the new WebExtension API.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tab-groups/

[2] https://github.com/denschub/firefox-tabgroups/issues/60

Can it backup into a file/load tab groups from backup file? This is an essential feature of the current Tab Groups extension for me.

"Why would anyone do that?!"... there's always one

For Chrome, the Great Suspender plugin had fixed the resource usage for me, it's kind of like lazy loading + freezing of heavy background tabs, and it enables quick startup even with 100 tabs.

But it should be a core feature of the browser itself IMHO.

I used the Great Suspender for a few months and thought it was great. Unfortunately, at some point tabs I came back to were 404ed =/ It's also why I switched away from bookmarks to Evernote (and later Bear) so I could capture the page in addition to the address for reference.

I guess I should use it in tandem with that plugin that replaces 404 pages with archive.org links...

A bigger problem with Chrome is that it doesn't support multiple rows of tabs. The usual reasoning is "close some tabs!" For someone who uses a monitor in portrait mode, this is painfully ridiculous.

Conform to widescreen!

I'm sympathetic, I use my two secondary 1080ps in portrait. I think I used to use a vim plugin on Chrome that had a sublime-ctrl+p-like feature to just search through my open tabs for the one I wanted.

I'd kill for something that could search across Firefox and Chrome tabs - sometimes I know I have something open, but not sure which browser app. I did have an addin like this for FF, but with the performance issues FF already has, it wasn't realistic to run it.

Vimium! I use it too, very useful. The command is shift+t to search through open tabs.

na the usual reasoning is "use vertical tab bar and tab groups and dont put your monitor n portrait mode"

This is not just for power users. My mother is about the most opposite of power user that there is. But she constantly has hundreds of tabs open when I go to visit her and do my obligatory tech support duties. She uses tabs like bookmarks, even though she bookmarks everything.

I've tried to coach her on working with the bookmarks better, but she has her system, and she's sticking to it. And to be fair, I don't know how I would manage bookmarks in any web browser trying to deal with them at her level. She has > 30k things bookmarked that are "important" to her.

You know that feeling you get when you're watching a user do something and he or she right clicks and selects copy and then goes through the dock to find the next application and then right clicks to paste, but the target area isn't focused, so it doesn't work. So then it's back to the dock to find the prior app and then reselect the text and right-click, copy, etc. etc. etc.? You know that feeling. It hits you in the pit of your stomach like the first time you saw the alien burst out of John Hurt's chest in Alien, or the red wedding from Game of Thrones, or every time you're in a meeting with a product manager.

First, there's the shock of it. The horror. Oh. My. God. WTF is happening here? Then there's the reality setting in. Holy shit. This is real. This is actually a thing that's happening, and there is literally nothing I can do about it. Then there is the sadness. I used to think of this thing in front of me as a person. Now all I see is a dead, empty, hopeless, useless, lifeless husk of a human. An end user. With a product manager alien screeching as it runs away from the lifeless corpse of the user it just murdered. Not by intent. Simply because that's what it is: a fully alien form of life that can only exist by killing humans.

Sorry about the vivid imagery, and I'm hoping this comes across as a joke about the friction between PMs and developers. I don't actually think they are that bad.

But every time I watch my mom try to scroll through 30k bookmarks to find a link, I get that feeling magnified by about 50.

OK, I'll put my hand up here. I bookmark sites reflexively, probably a hangover from the days before Google when things were harder to find and we had dial up that you paid for by the minute.

Bookmarks | Show All Bookmarks then keywords in the 'Search Bookmarks' is useful.

I have actually set the bookmark.html file as my start page. I can then use 'find in page' if I can remember any keywords about the page I am looking for, or just scroll down.

Ms Martin Senior needs to have her bookmarks backed up as well or there will be gnashing of teeth at some point in the future.

Imagery fine!

It isn't always them and us. Empathise more,

Long time user of Tree Style Tabs. Works great for me. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tree-style-ta...

Too bad it won't work on Firefox 57

Old Opera simply used to load cache. So if you opened a tab, it was there.. for days, weeks, months, through restarts and all. I loved that. Now everything I open to "check out later" is getting lost.

This really was one of the things that Opera got better. I don't understand what the reasoning is to do this any other way.

There is no reasoning, it's only cargo-cult mentality and fashion choices. Old Opera got almost everything better, but it lost to inferior alternatives because users aren't rational when it comes to their choices. Chrome and Firefox are the OOP of browsers.

YouTube is a bit smarter these days: they defer playback until the tab first gets focus. So you have to pause at most as many videos as there are separate windows, not tabs.

I believe Chrome is not nearly as smart as it could be about deferring loading of tabs, though.

It's not youtube doing that, but chrome. The html5 video element doesn't start playback until the tab first gets focus.

Firefox has the same thing, but you have to enable it in about:config

Do you have to enable it? I use Firefox Nightly, and have been observing this behavior for a long, long time. It's one of those things that's so minor and yet so important that I wonder how I went without it for so long.

I believe it is enabled by default now, and the value in about:config is `media.block-autoplay-until-in-foreground`

Thanks for the pref name. The feature is currently enabled by default only in the Firefox Nightly channel but you can use the pref to enable it in the Beta or Release channels.


It's disabled by default on regular firefox.

I prefer to disable media.autoplay.enabled which is enabled by default.

YES, I'm not the only one who uses this! As a compulsive tab-opener (I really gotta work on this...) and also a cellular hotspot user, both Safari and Chrome eat up, like, a gigabyte of traffic as soon as I open them. Firefox behaves much more reasonably, but until recently it's been very slow with 50+ tabs. I'm glad to hear this use case is (apparently) getting some close attention!

> I'm not sure if it's still this way, but Chrome used to load every tab on startup.

I used to avoid Chrome for the same reasons, but then I found an extension and, uh, extended it, to create:


It forces all tabs into inactive state on startup. Also creates a new tab page (or switches to an existing one) to avoid loading the focussed historical tab.

Firefox lazy loads tabs on startup, but not otherwise. So if you open a YouTube in a new tab it will start playing. Chrome, on the other hand, will not start playing the video, which is nice.

I'm a Firefox user though so that's where my chrome knowledge starts and ends.

The current Nightly doesn't autoplay until I focus the tab now. I'm not sure if this is a Youtube-the-website feature or Firefox-lazy-load feature.

Is that a Chrome feature or Chrome-only Youtube feature?

Firefox has the same feature, though it is currently enabled by default only in the Firefox Nightly channel. You can use the `media.block-autoplay-until-in-foreground` about:config pref to enable it in the Beta or Release channels.

Thank you... I almost re-switched to chrome over this.

It's Chrome's lazy-loading of tabs. YouTube could presumably implement this on all browsers by detecting if the user is focused or not, but I don't know that it's always desirable.

I'm pretty sure it's a Chrome-specific lazy autoplaying of html5 video. I really like to alt-click Youtube links (so the page is loaded and queued), put my headphones on and switch over when I'm ready.

Firefox does this too. It's on by default for Firefox Nightly and an opt-in preference in the other update channels.

So what you say is that firefox does not do this. (unless you go deep in about:config which is highly discouraged by mozilla).

Firefox Nightly does, and it's not done by default in non-nightly (but you can enable it with "media.block-autoplay-until-in-foreground"). I imagine it will become the default eventually.

"Firefox doesn't do this" is not a valid one-sentence summary of what I just said.

The fun part is that opera did this and did it better years ago, but sadly it came to stop the day they decided quarterly profits were the new priority and switched to become a google chrome skin.

> I hope that Firefox focuses more on power users in the future.

I got 8 extensions installed at the moment, 6 of those are marked as legacy and will stop working before the end of the year. I also hope Mozilla focuses more on power users, but I think a lot of them will leave when their favorite extensions stops working and Google keeps favoring Chrome on their sites.

It irks me that they're not just dumping the XUL extensions, but the Jetpack extensions as well. I've already converted my extensions once, from Greasemonkey to Jetpack, and now I have to convert to WebExtensions.

And no, Firefox WebExtensions are not compatible with Google Chrome WebExtensions. They're close, but not compatible.

Hope is not enough, it's clear that mozilla has a strong stance against power users.

Chrome has supported lazy loading for a while now. I unfortunately can't find this reference, but I remember it being announced as part of release notes many months ago.

I have the problem of moving a tab to a new window, and then 15 minutes later I have 15 tabs open. So I often have a few Chrome windows open at any point.

If I restart Chrome, only the focused tabs on each window are loaded.

How do I enable that? I can't find it anywhere.

There is no switch. It's an inbuilt feature with the Chrme 57+

Yes but I have found that if you "open in new tab" then it loads the page even though it is in the background. It should do as it does as startup but doesn't.

This, exactly. I'd love to open half a dozen tabs pointing at videos, without having to wait for each one to load and then quickly pause it.

(Related: I'd also really like to middle-click video annotations to open them in a tab. No, I don't want to replace the current video with them.)

Some sites, such as YouTube, don't start playing a video until you switch to the tab.

That hasn't been my experience with YouTube; middle-clicking to open a half-dozen videos in tabs starts all the videos playing at once.

Not sure if you're using Chrome or Firefox. I just tested FF 54 by alt-clicking a link. It loads and autoplays the non-active tab. Chrome v59, loads the page but doesn't autoplay until you switch to it. Chrome is my daily driver and I really prefer this behavior.

But recent performance improvements, especially the handling of many, many tabs has me looking at FF again.

By default they do start playing immediately in Firefox. Configurable with the media.block-autoplay-until-in-foreground setting.

Sorry but you got the wrong setting here. To disable autoplay it's media.autoplay.enabled

media.autoplay.enabled toggles whether videos in the current (foreground) tab starts auto playing or not

The question was about videos in a background tab, which is controlled by the media.block-autoplay-until-in-foreground setting.

Sadly mozilla provides no documentation for those settings, but I can assure you that this setting does not care if the tab is in the foreground or background, autoplay is simply disabled which it seems to me was what was asked here IIANM.

Unfortunately, neither of those settings does quite what I'd like. Once a tab has been in the foreground, I'd like it to continue being able to play things in the background, including new things. (For instance, some sites play a chime for notifications.) I just don't want anything played from a tab that has never been in the foreground.

Some sites maybe, but definitely not youtube.

Yeah, my workaround in a situation like that is to open all. Then close, restart and click restore session. It only loads the active page, not all.

With firefox go to about:config and disable media.autoplay.enabled now you have to click play for the video to start.

That's probably the right behavior for those people who are never going to open the tab; but for people like me who have few tabs, open in new tab is a great way to load something I'm actually going to read soon; eg open the article in a new tab, scan the HN comments while the article loads (especially if it's from one of those sites that takes 3 minutes to load)

I think this behavior should be linked with the "Make new tabs have the current focus when opened" option. So if that is not set, and the new tab does not appear, then Firefox should not load. In the devs defense, the inconsistent behaviour between startup and "restore all", and "open in new tab without focus" is easy to miss.

EDIT: I would agree with you in your assessment of the default behavior however, if it were the case, that most people only have a few tabs open normally.

YouTube don't autoplay when not the active tab.

So you're a google chrome user, because this only happens in chrome.

Safari had this first


There are a lot of people who use tabs as bookmarks. Seems like a good way to keep the RAM industry going strong. Someone once told me (seriously) "I need at least 128 GB of RAM otherwise I can't keep my tabs open." But does everything you were interested in over the last X weeks or months really need to be loaded up? No, and if you use it like that then it can't preload stuff.

I think the main lesson is that bookmarks don't work too well or people just don't use them. If nothing else, make the bookmark display show newer bookmarks rather than the same old ones from four years ago. And maybe start preloading if they are opened regularly. Merge two features together, maybe add optional other organizational features for example similar to new tab screen.

The tricky thing is that there are a lot of things that are potentially supposed to happen while a tab is open. The browser is now it's own OS, and it may be very difficult for developers to use important features if tabs (processes) only _look_ like they are running.

That's because the bookmarkers sucks. They do not adapt to what you are doing, you need to do a lot of setup and organize a lot to be able to use it well. It should be more organic, grow with the use you make. I still believe that anyone who makes a better bookmark will dominate more than just the browser war.

Bookmarking always struck me as a 90s solution to just having fulltext search and analytics over your browser history, there have been a few attempts at browsers that addressed this head-on, but they've all died off over time

IMO just one good new tab UI over a user's history/local cache could make a sizeable dent in Google's ad revenue

Opera with its unique cache offered the option to have full text search in history and it was great. Then quarterly profit became a priority for the board and they dropped their browser to become a google chrome advanced skin.

It's not like you have to reinvent the wheel even, just use Xapian like notmuch to do the grunt work of full-text indexing.

How do you organise tabs then? I've god knows how many bookmarks and I've been blindly Ctrl-D-ing since time immemorial, only tagging very distinct stuff and modifying titles if too stupid. When I need to get at sth. bookmarked, typing stuff into the url field in firefox just works.

Tree Tab Style.

Try it, then read the original post and the comments again. :)

I think this is the missing piece on all this discussion.

I do know those extensions, but still prefer bookmarks. I just tag stuff unread and go on.

then link rot and unread stays unread forever.

Well. I've made a little extension that lists unread links. For linkrot, yes that's an issue I plan to solve, and what I will do is I'll either find or write a program that saves my bookmarks as websaves.

Have you tried pocket? I used to keep a load of bookmarks but the problem was that after a while many of the source urls would die off. So something like pocket is very handy as it takes a copy of the page you're interested in.

Why pocket when we have opensource wallabag that you can either host yourself[1] or use as a service[2] ?

IIRC pocket has had some serious vulnerabilites exposed.

[1]: https://wallabag.org/en [2]: https://wallabag.it/en

Pocket might get better integration since it was recently acquired by Mozilla. Fingers crossed...

Pocket had a great integration with Firefox when it was an extension. Then they decided to integrate it into the browser and ironically it end up being a piece of shit that was not more functional than a bookmarklet. Not only that but they also removed the original extension from add-ons site so you have had to use the half assed built-in implementation.

I'd try a thing for tabs that works like cmd-tab / alt-tab works for apps.

Edge's reading list shows newer entries at the top. The problem is you don't have to do anything extra to use tabs. You just... leave them open, and then there's no reason to use bookmarks or reading list or history

Yea, but that reduces the value of tabs overall. You can't just glance at the top of the browser to remember where you just were.

If i don't look at a tab for a few hours, it's not worth keeping around as it just adds to the noise without providing value. If i need to read something, i either read it immediately or bookmark it to read later. The result: i can confidently resume work without distractions at any time.

    > You can't just glance at the top of the
    > browser to remember where you just were.
You just look at the last X tabs you opened. Just because it's not your workflow doesn't invalidate it.

With tree-style tabs, each root represents a train of thought. I just collapse them until I decide what to do with them. Sometimes I bookmark and banish them. Sometimes I come back to that thought next weekend.

Chrome's default tabs at the top, to me, are the distraction where each tab has equal weight. But I'm not going to say that anyone is doing it wrong if that's what they prefer.

There's a good reason not to use edge: it's not available outside windows.

How is that relevant to a UI discussion?

It could be the best UI ever, if it is not available it is useless.

In this particular example microsoft uses edge to push people to use the latest version of their adware/spyware OS.

That says nothing about whether a particular UI feature is good – and browsers in particular have a long history of good ideas becoming widely implemented by most vendors.

It's not just tabs as bookmarks. I can build up a stack of 100 tabs in a day easily.

How??? I've never understood how people can have that many tabs open and it be useful at all. At that point the information overload is too much. I have at most 10 open, and close them as I'm done with them. Helps reduce cognitive load.

I open almost every link in new tabs. It's faster to close a tab and return to the prior tab than it is to go Back, and the back button often doesn't work with dynamic pages. Plus, when replying in various forums, it's much easier to flip between tabs to refer to stuff that was said upthread, especially when you have to go back a page or two.

Neither the back button nor bookmarks retain state sufficiently or have sufficient responsiveness to replace open tabs.

Also looking up what you want when you have dozens / hundreds of tabs open is no better than going through your history browsing history. In fact going through your browsing history may be faster because you can actually use key words to search for what you want.

I have 2-3 tabs open most of the time. If I am looking something up, I go to 10-12. When I am done, it goes back down to 2-3. I can't even fathom under what situation people are using hundreds of tabs.

> looking up what you want when you have dozens / hundreds of tabs open is no better than going through your history browsing history

I have heaps of tabs open, but there are orders of magnitude more pages in my browser history. The latter usually contains so much that is too much to look through to find anything but quite recent entries. The tabs still open are pages still with some relevance to me, while the history is filled with lots of incidental stuff that is no longer of use.

[Edit: also, with open tabs the page content is already there so it's more quickly accessible. This can be useful if you need to look at it to help find the page you're looking for, and to get the content from the page]

I usually max out at around 50. Today I got to 40, by reading several articles in the morning, and then starting a programming project in the afternoon. And the project included several unfamiliar topics, and I opened multiple tabs for some Google searches because not every website has the same take on the matter.

I open a tab as an (internal) signifier that "this might be interesting". I will browse it, and cull the ones that dont fit my interest/mood/timescope.

For me, it reduces cognitive load. I don't keep in mind all tabs that I have open -- that's why I keep them open! To forget about them.

Bookmarks are mentally for things I want to save and reuse. But I'll probably open 40 HN sourced articles (from the main page and comments) per day, and continually cycle/review them for interest/effort throughout the day.

On the contrary, opening tabs reduce the cognitive load for me. Instead of having to use some of my limited mental space to keep in mind that there's some interesting link I'd like to go when I have finished reading the current page, I just open it now and will go back to later. Same as writing something down in a todo list.

I also close tabs as soon as I'm done with them which is why I only have 150-200 tabs open. Each categorized by activity, so when I switch one activity to the other I save time and cognitive load by having them right as I left them instead of having to find what URLs to reopen and actually open them. This way I only have 5-30 tabs open in front of me while the other are offscreen in other groups.

I think a lot of people use it like instapaper? A queue of things to read.

If browsers had a sort of tab queue where longer lived stuff then things could be a bit better on this front I think

Couldn't agree more. Bookmarks are so poorly implemented, people use tabs instead. Which is dumb

Doesn't a lazy-loaded tab solve this problem?

To me, the problem is that bookmarks are "while browsing, go to a different component that loads the browser tab with what I want".

Tabs, OTOH, are a placeholder for things that I want to keep just 1 step closer.

Saying it that way, I don't think it makes rational sense. But 1 cognitive step to a page instead of two is huge for me.

Well, which is it for? To make your page come in quicker when you click it, or to be a more accessible UI for choosing among options of sites you've visited and want to return to? To me they are different things, and shouldn't be lumped together the way they are.

Why is it dumb?

I use holmes google chrome extension and it's awesome. Once a website is bookmarked, it can be easily searched with by simply *[tab] and it searches for it. Highly recommended.


I had the same feeling. Seems like they are using tabs as a history.

A better history may solve their problem.

Sure a better history along with bookmarks and a pile of things could indeed fix my problem. But using tabs also fixes my problem perfectly well.

Bookmarks have been broken in browsers for more than a decade. Using bookmarks requires so much work and time that it makes no sense to use them.

How come?

First you have to create some categories, but that doesn't take long and then you simply throw bookmarks in these categories. the end.

It doesn't help that the bookmarks toolbar is not shown by default. I prefer to keep my tabs down to a reasonable number, and put folders on the bookmarks toolbar instead. If I want to bookmark something, I can just drag that link to the appropriate folder.

I think the main lesson is web browsers are bloated as hell now.

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