How to use Chrome OS Tab Groups


If your Chromebook tabs are out of control, Google has introduced a new feature, called Tab Groups, that might help.

Image: Jack Wallen

If you’re a Chromebook power user, you’ve probably found yourself with so many tabs open you can’t navigate the tab bar. When that happens, what do you do? Keep squinting to try and figure out what’s what? Or do you point and click your way through those tabs until you find the one you’re looking for?

If you’re using a Chromebook with an updated version of Chrome OS (mine is currently running 85.0.4183.84) then you have a feature available to you that might offer just the help you’ve been looking for. Said trick is Tab Groups. This isn’t really all that new–Vivaldi has this same feature built-in and Firefox has an add-on which offers the tag grouping feature. 

SEE: Top cloud providers in 2020: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, hybrid, SaaS players (TechRepublic)

For those who prefer their Chromebooks, your time has come. Thanks to the Google developers, you can now get your tabs better organized, courtesy of Tab Groups.

Let me show you how to use this feature.

How to create a Tab Group

Tab Groups are enabled by default, so there’s no configuration to take care of beforehand. In order to create a new Tab Group, two-finger tap or right-click a tab and select Add Tab To New Group (Figure A). 

Figure A

tabgroupsa.jpg

Creating your first Tab Group with Chrome OS.

Once the group is created, you’ll see a small circle to the left of the tab. Tap that circle and you can then name the group and change the default color (Figure B).

Figure B

tabgroupsb.jpg

Naming the new group and changing it’s default color.

One thing to know about naming a group: The name of the group appears to the left of the tab, taking up precious space. If you wind up creating a lot of Tab Groups, you might be better served not naming the groups and just sticking to the colors. If, however, you don’t create too many groups, you can go ahead with the name.

Once you’ve created that first group, the two-finger tap menu will look a bit different. Instead of seeing only Add Tab To New Group, you’ll now see the entry Add Tab To Group, with the sub-entries New Group and a listing of your current Tab Groups (Figure C).

Figure C

tabgroupsc.jpg

How the Tab Group menu will look, after you create that first group.

Keep adding groups and adding tabs to groups until you have your browser perfectly organized.

The caveat

Nothing is perfect. Truly. Chrome OS Tab Groups are far from it. The thing is, Tab Groups is well named; all the feature does is group related tabs together with a title and color. You could still wind up with 20 tabs open and have trouble knowing which tab is which. The only difference is you’ll have an easier time guessing, thanks to the grouping (Figure D).

Figure D

tabgroupsd.jpg

Tab Groups isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

Once you start using a larger number of tabs, you can see how Tab Groups almost does a great job of organizing your tabs. It would be better if Tab Groups would only show the group title and, with a mouse over, display thumbnails (or favicons) of each tab, so you could more easily select the tab you want, but this is a pretty good first effort for Google.

Give Tab Groups a try and see if it doesn’t help you get your Chrome OS tabs in order.

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