The Minimalistic Approach To Firefox Tab Overload

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Do you have a tendency to open dozens of tabs? You won’t solve the dilemma by installing more and more extensions. Efficient tab management isn’t necessarily about the tools you use, but about your mindset. You can, however, use browser features and add-ons to organize tabs for different projects and better navigate between them. This in turn can help you increase your focus and productivity.

Firefox offers a host of ways to manage tabs and you will find many of them on our Best Firefox Addons page. Let me show you a minimal setup with native features and key extensions to manage your tabs.

Firefox Tab Management Extensions

Duplicate Tab Closer

This is one extension I will recommend to those of you who have dozens of tabs open right now. Before further organizing your tabs, run Duplicate Tab Closer to get rid of any duplicate and empty tabs. The good news is, you won’t have to restart Firefox after installing this extension. Once installed, you’ll find a button in the addon toolbar, typically in the bottom right of the browser; the tooltip says “Close blank and duplicate tabs.” One click and they are all gone.

Duplicte Tab Closer

Before you go ahead, disable this extension; hopefully, you won’t need it again.

Native Firefox Features

Every now and then, Firefox internalizes good extensions and offers them as native feature, one prominent example being the browser session manager. With the major release of Firefox 4 in 2010, two features relevant for managing tabs were introduced: List all tabs and Tab Groups. The former essentially replaces an extension known as Tabs Menu, while the latter can serve as a simplistic alternative for the more complex TabGroups Manager.

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List All Tabs

To see a list of all your open tabs, click the arrowhead to the left of your open tabs. Rather than vertically scrolling up and down a long row of narrow tabs, you can go through this vertical list and quickly find the tab you’re looking for.

Firefox List All Tabs

The Tabs Menu extension differs from this native feature in two ways. (1) It literally appears as a Tabs menu, meaning the main Menu Bar must be enabled, which in turn disables the orange Firefox button. Alternatively, you can click the [ALT] key to temporarily view the Menu Bar. (2) It offers a New Tab and Close Tab option and numeric keyboard shortcuts.

Tabs Menu Firefox Extension

My recommendation is to go with the native feature to save space and system resources.

Tab Groups

You have seen the tiled button to open Tab Groups in prevoius screenshots. Click the tiled button to the left of your open tabs or the respective option in the list of all open tabs. This will take you to a screen with all your tabs stacked in one group. To create a new group, drag a tab out of its current group. To get a better overview you can re-size, re-name, and groups around.

Firefox Tab Groups

See our detailed review of Tab Groups for a thorough introduction into this powerful Firefox tool.

The idea for this native feature might have come from the TabGroups Manager. The extension, however, adds an additional toolbar with category tabs. The categories in turn give access to the open tabs they contain. To save system resources, single categories can be hibernated.

TabGroups Manager

We have previously introduced TabGroups Manager as a great Firefox addon for tabbed browsing and as an effective way to deal with too many tabs. Tricks of the latter also include using your bookmarks or the Session Manager extension to save & store project-related tabs until you need them.

The Mindset: Simplify

As I said previously, no number of extensions or features can help you slim down the tabs you have amassed. There is only one way: You have to work your way through them.

The Tab Groups feature should be sufficient to organize your tabs into projects or themes. From there you can focus on one group at a time. Work on your project, jump between tabs using the tab list feature, and either save the entire project or bookmark pages you might need to reference later.

Both a smaller number of open tabs and fewer extensions will save system resources. On top of that, if tabs are tucked away in more manageable groups, you won’t feel as overwhelmed.

How do you manage to keep the number of tabs down? Or have you arranged yourself with tab overload? What is your strategy?

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