Opinion: I love the tab grouping feature of web browsers

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 3, 2022
Internet
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33

Many desktop web browsers and some mobile browsers support the grouping of tabs. Implementations may differ depending on the browser and platform, but all have in common that they provide users with an option to group tabs in the browser.

chrome tab groups

Many Chromium-based browsers support tab groups by now. You can use Microsoft Edge, Brave or Google Chrome, and use the functionality right away. All that it takes is to right-click on a tab and select the "add tab to new group" option from the context menu.

Add a custom string to describe the group, pick a color and you are all set to start using it. New tabs are added via drag & drop, and once the tab bar reaches a certain threshold, you may click on the name of the tab group to minimize it.

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Some Chromium-based browsers have created different solutions. The Vivaldi browser supports a range of tab group related options. Unlike other Chromium-based browsers, Vivaldi users may create tab groups by dragging tabs on top of each other. It is simpler, and the browser comes with options to display tabs of groups in a second tab bar in the interface for improved usability.

Mozilla's Firefox web browser supported tab groups for some time several years ago. Mozilla made the decision to remove tab grouping functionality from Firefox. Firefox users may install add-ons, such as Tiled Tab Groups, Panorama Tab Groups, or Simple Tab Groups, that restore the functionality.

Why I like Tab Groups

vivaldi browser tab groups

When I use a web browser, I tend to have a good amount of tabs open at all times. It happens that I find sites and pages of interest during browsing and research sessions, and I tend to open these in new tabs in the browser and keep these tabs open between sessions.

While I could save the tabs to the browser's bookmarks or use other archiving options, I found that I forget about these then quickly as they are not visible anymore on the screen.

The number of tabs reaches dangerous threshold levels sometimes, so that open tabs are displayed with just a site icon or no icon at all anymore.

The introduction of tab group support in the browser allows me to sort open tabs into multiple groups and to collapse groups that are needed. One group has all the Ghacks research articles that I came across; these consist of new programs that I want to test, articles from other websites, research papers, tips, and anything else that could make an article on the site or be used in one.

Then I have groups for other activities, including entertainment and hobbies, or informational articles on topics of interest that are unrelated to my day job. Tab groups help me focus, as they hide open tabs that I don't need access to at the time.

What is still missing

Tab groups improve how I work significantly. The implementation in Chrome, Edge and most Chromium-based browsers lacks one option, which I would like to see introduced in the future. If a tab group is collapsed, it is not possible to use drag and drop to add a new open tab to it. I have to expand the group to drop another tab into it.

Vivaldi does this better, and it is having the superior tab grouping system in my opinion.

Closing Words

Tab groups are not for all users. If you have one or two tabs open at a time, then you don't need to use tab groups. If you have several dozen or even hundreds of tabs open, you may want to check out the feature to better organize tabs and improve workflows in the process.

Now You: do you use tab groups?

Summary
Opinion: I love the tab grouping feature of web browsers
Article Name
Opinion: I love the tab grouping feature of web browsers
Description
Tab groups are supported by most browsers. Here is why I love tab grouping functionality so much.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Shadow_Death said on June 3, 2022 at 3:04 pm
    Reply

    I have been trying to stuck with Firefox for a while because of their privacy features and to use a browser not based on Chromium. The thing is some of the decisions they’ve been making lately is making it difficult for me to want to stick with them. That obnoxiously thick tab bar that you can’t adjust anymore is really annoying me. This is the comapny that changed the ball game by putting the tab bar up top to save room and give you more web page space on screen… Then they took steps backwards by making the tabs. What made Firefox appealing for years was the customizability of their browser. Full window themes that can hange the look of everything including the navigation buttons. There was also ability to resize just about everything about it.

    These days I’ve seen more o this in Vivaldi which has my attention because while Mozilla is going for that total control and lack of customizations like it’s an Apple Product Vivaldi seem to keep adding customization features.

    1. Anonymous said on June 3, 2022 at 6:33 pm
      Reply

      Firefox literally doesn’t care about your privacy, the only reason you can get a privacy is if you actually modify it, so yes, they allow you to do that, but it doesn’t mean the developers care about you. They know most people won’t modify it so they are fine letting the loud minority to modify stuff in Firefox manually. Just look at Librewolf and everything they remove, of course, I believe they make the browser unusable for how much they disable in order to make it ‘private and secure’. But then, privacy on the internet is like… fantasy tale from the living dead, what do you gain by your browser supposedly not collecting information when all you do while you browse the internet is give your information away? plus AI and other big tech inventions can spot you even if you are using VPN and other ways to ‘hide’ yourself and make you anonymous.

      But anyway, why Vivaldi? Vivaldi is literally the worst chromium browser, if you are going to choose the worst Chromium browser you are better staying with Firefox. Why is it the worst?
      Well, it doesn’t use native UI, so it is going to be clunkier and slower, well, it actually uses Html+CSS+JS as the UI, so it is like you are running your browser inside another browser, that part of the UI is close source if you care about that.

      Also, their privacy stance is one of the worst around chromium browsers. Even if they talk about ‘privacy’ and how ‘google bad’ and ‘we don’t track you’ (which has the same meaning of nothing as Do not Evil from Google)
      You can still read Type and purpose of data collected by Vivaldi AS in the privacy policy.
      “Vivaldi will send a message using HTTPS directly to our servers located in Iceland every 24 hours containing this ID, version, cpu architecture, screen resolution and time since last message.”
      Does that sound good to you? that’s worst than any other company actually.

      They also need phone numbers in case you want to use their mail system, maybe you don’t care about it but once you make an Vivaldi account it includes everything.

      You could use a firewall or something to block the Vivaldi IPs, but that’s why I ask you, why Vivaldi and not other? if you are willing to change Firefox for a Chromium browser who is slower than the others, half close source and has a terrible privacy policies even if they talk about how much they don’t track you and care about you with buzz words.
      That means your bar is set pretty low, you can use Edge and be on the same level, to be honest even Edge respects more your privacy than Vivaldi at this point.

      Also you have to remember Vivaldi can only use Google store extensions, and what I mean is Edge has its own store and can use Google ones, so you might not have to give your info to Google if you don’t want to.
      What do you think happens when browser checks or updates and connects to a google server? they will know who and when is doing it.

      The only browser I know that has done something about this is Brave, which proxies the connection between you and google so it doesn’t reveal to google who is updating extensions and other features. Vivaldi doesn’t do that, they literally never cared to remove any google privacy nightmare stuff or fix it like at least Brave tried to do.

      But Edge has its own store, Opera has its own store as well, Yandex can use Opera store, at least you have some choice how to avoid google for example if you want, something you don’t get with Vivaldi, not even in that regard.
      I mean, I don’t know about Vivaldi stance about Manifestv3, but for example even Brave has talks about making its own store because in less than a year Google will only accept manifestv3 extensions and then it doesn’t matter how buggy and unstable they might run, developers are forced to do it, which means, Vivaldi can be against manifest v3 but they will only be able to get manifestv3 extensions from google, unless you sideload the extensions but that’s never a real solution in the big picture.

      It sucks developers don’t support more stores like Opera, so it would be easier to avoid Google. Sometimes there is not even way to sideload extensions because they don’t offer it unless you build it from source so Google extensions store is the only alternative.

      But yeah, Vivaldi offers tons of customization because of their close source slower implementation, but with all its downsides and especially if you mention ‘Firefox privacy’, is that really your dream come true for some features you won’t even use? or features you will use for 3 seconds and then forget about them because you will notice how they are mostly gimmicky features for what is worth? (is Vivaldi even good for laptops and their battery life or windows tablets?).

      Think about it, don’t fall for the trap of “we got tons of features” like Vivaldi, but if you do, do it wisely, at least not dismissing other browsers only because you think they have worst privacy policies because ‘internet (reddit or some useless and clueless privacy websites) would say so’.

      1. Tams said on June 6, 2022 at 5:42 am
        Reply

        Wow, what a rant.

        I use Vivaldi because it has features I like, many that other browsers don’t have. And it’s been a few years since it seemed any slower than any other browser (yes, I wasted a ton of time checking that out).

        Closed source? I couldn’t care less, tbh.

        And its features mean that I have rely on far fewer extensions that I’m usually even more suspicious of. Not to mention Vivaldi at least will make attempts to plug security holes; the same can’t be said of most extension developers.

        Ideally I’d be using old Opera based on Presto, but that was not to be. And Vivaldi is from a some of the same developers, so they at least match my feature desires.

    2. John said on June 3, 2022 at 9:05 pm
      Reply

      You can still do all those things with userchrome.css, actually with userchrome.css you can customize firefox even more than Vivaldi.

    3. Kevin said on June 4, 2022 at 5:22 pm
      Reply

      You can make the tab bar smaller in about:config

      browser.compactmode.show – True
      browser.uidensity – 1

  2. Henk said on June 3, 2022 at 4:43 pm
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    Never used tab groups, never have more than three or four tabs open at the same time, and any browser that I use will (for several reasons, safety among them) always be set to never save sessions: instead, when started next time, they will always re-open with just a blank screen.

    If I run across some interesting webpage that I want to view later, I don’t keep that tab open indefinitely: instead, I simply bookmark it in my Temp bookmarks folder, and then move on. After having viewed that page at some later point in time, I then either move its bookmark to the proper topical folder, or delete it.

    Imho, continually keeping more than dozens of open tabs does indicate browsing habits that I might define as, well, let’s put this in a somewhat friendly way, “irrational, messy and lazy”.

    1. kalmly said on June 3, 2022 at 5:40 pm
      Reply

      I should try tab groups. I tend to use Martin’s method, keeping tons of tabs open. You know, like Henk commented – in a somewhat unfriendly and judgmental way – the “irrational, messy and lazy” method.

    2. Tom Hawack said on June 3, 2022 at 6:55 pm
      Reply

      Same as @Henk here, never more than six tabs I guess opened simultaneously. I’m on a topic, all tabs are related, many pages have been opened in the same tab and I bookmark if applicable. I think I never switch from one topic to another with previous topics’ tabs opened.

      But… it did happen no later than yesterday : maybe twelve or so tabs opened. Twelve, wow :=)
      Truth is I closed two I needed by mistake! What I mean is that if I surfed industriously so to say tab grouping would inevitably impose itself as salvation.

    3. Tsami said on June 3, 2022 at 8:05 pm
      Reply

      Same as @Henk and @Tom here also, except that if there’s something I want to keep, I drag the padlock in the URL bar onto the desktop to create a website shortcut. That it keeps it visible unlike bookmarks which I would forget after accumulating too many. Then, if it’s something I want to keep after reviewing it later, drag it into a reference folder that contains other shortcuts of a similar nature. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure.

      The Vertical Tabs Reloaded or Tree Style Tab extensions also help to clarify situations when gobs of tabs are loaded.

    4. John said on June 3, 2022 at 9:25 pm
      Reply

      What I’m about to say might seem somewhat weird, but I think that if browser history was better, fewer people would be tab-hoarders. Like for instance, practically all browsers delete your history after 90 days, they simply erase them without offering an easy alternative to save it or disable this feature. I feel that if browsers made easier for people to go back in time and remember a site they visited, less people would be tab-hoarders, because they would know that they could easily find that site again.

      Yeah, you can always bookmark stuff, but bookmarking requires an active action from the user, your browser saving your history doesn’t. It would be nice if there was some browser that not only indefinitely saved your browser history, but somehow categorized and organized what you search into categories.

      Like, suppose you are trying to find some movie that you looked up 3 months ago, maybe you remember seeing an wikipedia article on it, maybe your browser could analyze all the stuff searched, through their name stuff, find what of those were movie titles, check on IMDB their synopsis, and add the synopsis on your browser history as reference when for were trying to find that movie.

      Like, “oh, I remember it was an italian movie about mafia”, and your browser history would find it out. Like some sort of “auto organize” of your browser history, if that makes any sense.

      I’m pretty sure that from a privacy point of view, this would be bad, but it wouldn’t be worse than if you already are using Chrome or something, with the difference that you would find stuff easier.

    5. Anonymous said on June 4, 2022 at 2:35 am
      Reply

      Agree. Those people who say Bookmarks are not visible will still keep their tabs piling up. They have so many tab groups that they didn’t remember what they want to see.

      If you never opened more than 4 tabs at a time, then it means you are a very light user. When researching something like comparing prices, I can open many tabs from different sources. If I suddenly have something else to do, I just right click->bookmarks all tabs and reopen them later(with just 1-2 clicks!).

  3. Yuliya said on June 3, 2022 at 5:01 pm
    Reply

    I loved the tab grouping of Opera v12. I used it a lot. It was simple, and the area which would toggle the grouping was adjusted perfectly, so you could never group by mistake, and when you wanted to group, you would never move the tab by mistake either. What we have today is a clunky, overly complicated system, which is infuriating to use and I prefer not to.

  4. foolishgrunt said on June 3, 2022 at 5:05 pm
    Reply

    I keep hearing about tab groups, but I haven’t tried them yet. Do they offer anything that the “trees” in Tree Style Tab does not?

    1. Joe said on June 3, 2022 at 8:33 pm
      Reply

      I have tried moving to various chromium-based browsers and I’ve tried some of the tab grouping features and extensions, but Tree Style Tabs always pulls me back to Firefox.

      1. owl said on June 4, 2022 at 3:16 am
        Reply

        @Joe,
        > I have tried moving to various chromium-based browsers and I’ve tried some of the tab grouping features and extensions, but Tree Style Tabs always pulls me back to Firefox.

        I am the same as you!
        However, I never use Google (chrome) and Microsoft (Edge), Chinese (Opera) and Russian (Yandex) ones. Part of the reason is spoken by Anonymous,
        https://www.ghacks.net/2022/06/03/opinion-i-love-the-tab-grouping-feature-of-web-browsers/#comment-4523114
        The most essential feature of a browser for me is “Tree Style Tab”. Therefore, the only option is Firefox, which is the browser that can use the latest version.
        Tree Style Tab: Only for Firefox.
        https://piro.sakura.ne.jp/xul/_treestyletab.html.en

        That said, Martin’s opinion is understandable. For Firefox, “Simple Tab Groups” or “Sidebery” are good candidates for “group tabs”.
        GitHub – Simple Tab Groups: Create, modify and quick change tab groups. Only for Firefox.
        https://github.com/drive4ik/simple-tab-groups
        GitHub – Sidebery: Firefox extension for managing tabs and bookmarks in sidebar. Only for Firefox.
        https://github.com/mbnuqw/sidebery

        However, in my personal opinion, from the experience of using the group tabs extension, it is very troublesome to delete countless tabs that are no longer needed because “group management becomes bloated” like bookmarks. Moreover, the amount of resources required by the function is also large. So I stopped using the group tabs extension, and used Tab Stash.
        Tab Stash: Only for Firefox.
        https://josh-berry.github.io/tab-stash/support.html

      2. plusminus_ said on June 5, 2022 at 2:17 am
        Reply

        Do you know if Tab Stash works well with Tree Style Tab? I’ve been looking for something to save some of my long-term tabs with – something like a pre-bookmark area

        Tab Stash looks good but I don’t want to break anything lol

      3. plusminus_ said on June 6, 2022 at 5:38 pm
        Reply

        Having had another look – if TST isn’t on the list of known incompatibilities, it should be okay, shouldn’t it? :p

      4. owl said on June 12, 2022 at 4:46 pm
        Reply

        @plusminus_ said,

        Regarding your question about Tab Stash,
        It cannot be used with “Simple Tab Groups” (due to conflicts),
        But it can be used with Tree Style Tab.

  5. Anonee said on June 3, 2022 at 5:06 pm
    Reply

    Yep, I literally can’t live without my tab groups anymore lol

    I even use extensions such as:
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tab-groups-extension/nplimhmoanghlebhdiboeellhgmgommi

    to automatically group tabs based on rules.

    1. Davlon S Core said on June 3, 2022 at 9:33 pm
      Reply

      This looks like a nice extension, features that should be done by the browser without the need of an extension, autogroup is the only way I see Chromium groups implementation efficient, it is boring to make groups and manually managing them for sure.

      Of course, I wish the extension would work with Opera or Yandex, and I know developers won’t create extensions exclusively for them, since the group/workspaces implementations are nothing like the groups in chromium. I shall wait and see if Opera does it then, to make workspaces nicer to use, but I don’t hold my hopes, Opera is nice and all, but their priorities and development roadmap is weird, so I doubt they will implement something like the extension in a while.

      I am not planning on switching to Edge but if Edge team releases workspaces and this or an extension like it support them, it would be tempting, because groups are nice but not enough.

  6. MarlKax said on June 3, 2022 at 5:51 pm
    Reply

    The problem of the group features in chromium browsers is how sometimes it misses the auto-group function, I remember Brave had it but then removed it so I guess Chromium removed it.

    Opera has workspaces instead of groups which works fine if you use shortcuts, but they could do them better as well, maybe do opera magic things and do something like containers in Firefox, but that is the only grouping function around Opera now.

    Did you try Yandex though? they released it a month ago with 22.5 I think, and it is like a combination of workspaces with groups, easier to access than workspaces but works like tab groups, with Yandex Tab Manager on the side bar, it makes it a nice experience compared to most out of the box chromium grouping experience.

  7. Josh Gunderson said on June 4, 2022 at 1:52 am
    Reply

    I prefer the Workspaces feature in Opera for compartmentalizing things. E.g I have Main (email, tasks, RSS reader, regular browsing), Video, Music, Gaming, and Dev. All in their separate Workspaces. Switch between them seamlessly, no stashing & reloading of Tabs as I’ve seen some Addons do.

    The Workspaces feature actually had me on the fence about switching (Firefox Fanboi since Phoenix), the final straw was when they changed the behavior for “automatically opened downloads” (e.g. .torrent files) because “people are too dumb to find their files, this is how Chrome does it”, I moved to Opera GX. If I wanted a Chrome-like browser, I’d use a Chrome-based browser!

    Now I see they rolled it back this week or so. I’ll go back when they implement Workspaces à la Opera. :D

    1. Anonymous said on June 5, 2022 at 2:41 am
      Reply

      The problem of workspaces in Opera is that you have to manually manage them, you know, drag and drop the tabs to the correct place workspace, make sure you switch when you want to do something related to workspace if not it would just get messy and be pointless.
      I would also blame how Opera doesn’t provide an API or anything for developers to make workspaces better, and since they don’t use the chromium native tab system then extensions are useless in Opera.

  8. plusminus_ said on June 4, 2022 at 2:17 am
    Reply

    I haven’t looked into the Chromium version of tab grouping in any great detail, it seems like it’s for people who don’t have many tabs open at once :P though I may try it on my work account as I have had tabs on a couple of topics open for some time…

    I can’t see myself ever moving from Tree Style Tab (which does allow moving collapsed groups), provides structure with the child tabs, and with a little CSS I can have tabs within the same container (and by extension, their children) a different colour from their neighbouring tabs, which is handy – almost like the colouring of Internet Explorer’s tabs, or Tab Mix Lite.

  9. Nico said on June 4, 2022 at 5:43 am
    Reply

    I use treestyletab which takes it to the next level
    https://github.com/piroor/treestyletab
    You need to do some css hacks to hide the header and the old tab bar though

  10. Amonymous said on June 4, 2022 at 7:13 am
    Reply

    It’s just weird it takes a while for this feature to come back…it was one of the feature I love about IE7. Still nice to see it back tho, very useful indeed.

  11. Tim said on June 4, 2022 at 11:50 am
    Reply

    I understand why many FF users would welcome tab group feature but personally I’d prefer vertical tabs on one side of the browser. Anyway, FF is not such a terrible guy as some believe it to be, but innovations are not its selling point.

  12. GoodMeasure said on June 5, 2022 at 4:01 pm
    Reply

    Martin (and other users of Vivaldi), this thread has easy info on how to improve significantly the Tab Grouping in that browser. The updated code towards the end were even better:

    https://forum.vivaldi.net/topic/25453/multiple-row-tabs/170?page=9&lang=en-GB

  13. Anonymous said on June 5, 2022 at 4:57 pm
    Reply

    I dunno about Chrome, but Edge now supports dragging a tab onto another to create groups, and dragging tabs into an existing group.

  14. wahnbohn said on June 5, 2022 at 6:43 pm
    Reply

    Panorama on Firefox is simply unbeatable and essential for any power user. I couldn’t function without it with 100+ tabs always open and grouped by usage case.

  15. piomiq said on June 5, 2022 at 11:49 pm
    Reply

    I prefer Tree Style Tab (available only in Firefox, in Chrome clones there is TreeTabs, but has less powerful). I think this is much better solution than any grouping horizontal tabs, but only in desktop.

  16. Fergus Brainstorm said on June 6, 2022 at 6:42 am
    Reply

    I don’t use tab groups, I use windows. It’s not that I don’t understand tab groups, I just don’t see how they’re not superfluous. I suppose windows and groups in combination could let you have groups within groups, but I doubt tab group users are using them that way.

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