Get Informative Pinned Tabs on Chrome Without Upgrading

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chrome tabsFind out how many emails, voicemails and incoming Tweets you have, as well as the date, by glancing at a few Chrome tabs. If you like the idea of permanent tabs with informative icons, but don’t feel like installing a development version of Chrome and setting up apps, that’s not a problem. Chrome comes pre-loaded with the ability to “pin” tabs, making your web apps start with Chrome as text-free icons.

Even better, there are lots of ways to make favicons display useful information.


We previously explained how to install the development version of Chrome to get more features, including the much hyped “apps.” But if apps seem appealing to you primarily because of the small tabs, you’ll be happy to know that ‘pinned’ tabs are only two clicks away in Chrome, and not that terribly different with Chrome apps in their current form.

Pin Your Tabs

First things first: let’s pin your tabs. Open the web apps you use most often, such as your Gmail account or your favorite Calendar application. Right click the tab, and you’ll see a menu like this:

chrome tabs

Click “Pin tab” and you’re set. The tab will be moved to the left, and will show only the favicon. Best of all, pinned tabs show up every time you start Chrome, so your most-used websites are instantly at hand. Pin your most-used sites to save time.

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Install Your Scripts

Pinned tabs, of course, have no text beside their icons. This is okay in some cases, but may leave you missing key pieces of information. Gmail, for example, includes the current “unread” count visible on tabs, but not on pinned tabs.

Unless, of course, you install various user scripts to show useful information where the favicon is:

tabs in chrome

There are thousands of scripts over at UserScripts.org, and a few make useful favicons. Things they do include:

  • Count incoming tweets in Twitter
  • Count unread texts and voicemails in Google Voice
  • Count unread articles in Google Reader
  • Current date in Google Calendar (much better than perpetually showing the number 31!)

Of course, there are plenty more such scripts to be found. Just search UserScripts for “favicon” along with your web app of choice to find a few. Installing them is easy: just click the “install” button and Chrome will prompt you:

chrome tabs

Don’t want to hunt and peck for user scripts? You should check out the Favicon Alert plugin for Chrome. This plugin scans every tab’s description for a number in brackets and automatically changes the favicon to include that number. Since many sites on the web use such bracketed numbers to indicate incoming messages, this should cover a variety of sites all over the web. Let us know what sites you get working with it!

Enjoy!

This isn’t a particularly complicated guide, but combining these two things gives me a quick overview of my incoming messages and quick access to my favorite web apps.

Can you recommend any web apps worth pinning, and any useful scripts or plugins to make their favicons useful? Share them in the comments below so everyone can benefit.

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