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How to Identify Which Chrome Tabs Are Wasting RAM and CPU Resources

Simon Batt Updated 17-03-2020

Google Chrome can be a real resource hog, but did you know that it comes with its own task manager? This makes it easy to spot which extensions or web pages are draining your resources, so you can cut them off and reclaim your computer.

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Let’s explore how to view the Chrome Task Manager, as well as some handy tools to keep track of your usage.

How to Open the Chrome Task Manager

Opening the Chrome task manager is very simple. Click the three dots at the top right of the browser, then hover over More tools, then select Task Manager.

You can fast-track this process by pressing SHIFT+ESC on Windows.

The Chrome task manager

You should see a few processes running, the tabs you have open, and any extensions you’ve installed. From here, you can check Chrome’s tag performance and cut out any that are sapping your resources.

Memory footprint shows how much RAM each process is taking up. This is a great way to see Chrome’s memory usage by tab. If you find your PC struggles to change between programs, check which Chrome tabs are using up memory and close them.

CPU shows how much CPU power each process is taking up, represented in a percentage. For example, if a process has a CPU value of 20, it’s taking up 20% of your processor. This is a useful way to find out which Chrome tab is using up your CPU’s resources. If your computer is struggling to load programs, freeing up the CPU will give it more resources to work with.

Network shows how much data the process uses to operate. There’s a good chance that, right now, each of the values under Network is 0. However, if you were to load a new page, or you had a tab that was streaming media, this value will show the tab’s download rate.

Process ID shouldn’t be worried about too much. This is the special ID your computer gave the process to identify it. Just think of it as the computer’s name for that specific process.

General Tips for Keeping Chrome’s Usage Down

If Chrome keeps draining your computer’s resources, there are a few things you can do to free up your computer. Let’s explore some ways you can clean up Chrome to get a better browsing experience.

Close Tabs You’re No Longer Using

Every tab you have open takes up a little bit of memory. As such, when you have 20+ tabs open, it becomes a burden on your computer’s resources. When you clean up your messy tab habits, you’ll find your computer will appreciate the kind gesture and run better.

Closing tabs is a problem if you’re knee-deep in research and want to save every tab. In this scenario, it’s a good idea to bookmark each page and revisit them when you need to read them again. There are also Chrome extensions that can save all your tabs for later use, which we’ll talk about later.

Remove Chrome Extensions You No Longer Use

It’s easy to add and forget about extensions on Chrome. If you have some extensions installed that you don’t use anymore, they can drain your resources without giving anything in return. As such, if you find any extensions hogging resources in the task manager, be sure to uninstall them.

Similarly, if an extension you use a lot is taking up a lot of memory, it’s worth looking for alternatives that are lighter on the PC. Check the Chrome extension store for apps that do the same job, but doesn’t consume as many resources as what you’re using.

Keep System-Intensive Tabs to a Minimum

It’s easy to get distracted on the internet. You’re watching a movie on Netflix when you have to pause and do something else. While you do that, a friend links you to a YouTube video. You watch half of before your updates feed informs you of some exciting news. You pause the YouTube video and check out the news, which then reminds you to Google something…

When you leave a system-intensive tab open, it can take a sizable chunk of resources. Video streaming services, games, and websites with lots of media can make a dent, so it’s a good idea to close the ones you’re not using.

Some video streaming services remember where you were when you return to them, making them save to close while you do other things.

Managing CPU and RAM With Chrome Extensions

The Chrome task manager is useful, but there are some extensions you can install that help you manage your Chrome experience. If you find yourself overloading your Chrome with tabs, try these extensions to help you out.

TooManyTabs

The TooManyTabs extension

If you have too many tabs open, but you can’t afford to close any, you need the aptly-named TooManyTabs. This extension lets you clean up all your tabs and reduce Chrome’s memory usage, while also preserving the tabs for later.

You can use the extension to navigate through your tabs or suspend them for later. When suspended, the tab is closed in the browser but is remembered by TooManyTabs for later use.

Download: TooManyTabs

OneTab

The OneTab Chrome extension

If you don’t want to fiddle around with individual tabs and want the nuclear option for tab management, try OneTab. When you click on the extension icon, it immediately sucks in all tabs on the active window and puts them into a single tab.

Download: OneTab

Tabagotchi

The Tabagotchi extension

If you really can’t keep your tab problem under control, why not have the wellbeing of a digital pet dependent on your browsing discipline? A Tabagotchi is like the small Tamagotchi pets that took the world by storm in the 90s. However, as the name suggests, a Tabagotchi lives or dies based on your tab hygiene. This feature makes Tabagotchi it a fun way to reduce your Chrome tab memory usage while keeping your pet healthy.

Download: Tabagotchi

There are a lot more extensions for task management, so much so that it deserved its own article. Be sure to check out the best extensions for Chrome tab management The 10 Best Extensions for Chrome Tab Management If you’re a multi-tasker, you love tabs. Maybe a little too much. Here are 10 extensions that will help you deal with the tab overload. Read More if you want even more options.

Improving Your Chrome Experience

Chrome is a significant resource hog, so it’s a good idea to keep tabs on how much CPU and RAM the browser uses. Fortunately, Chrome has its own built-in task manager, as well as some great extensions to keep your unhealthy tab habits under control.

Now that you’ve mastered tab management, be sure to try these power tips for Chrome that improve your browsing instantly 31 Power Tips for Chrome That Will Improve Your Browsing Instantly This guide covers power user tips for making the most of Chrome's features and some extensions that will expand Chrome's functionality. Read More .

Explore more about: Google Chrome, Tab Management, Troubleshooting.

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  1. Kyle Myers
    May 30, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Use the extension "Tab Suspender". I set my suspension time to 5 minutes. It'll automatically suspend all open tabs that are not currently being used.

  2. Kyle Myers
    May 30, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I suggest different extensions, such as Tab Suspender. I set the time down to 5 minutes for the extension to suspend the all open/non-viewed tabs. All that is needed to reactivate it is a click of the mouse.

  3. Craig Williams
    July 29, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Kind of ironic that while I had this page open to check the Chrome usage, it was the memory/CPU hog.

    • SAM
      September 5, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      EXACTLY, and the back/tab history arrow shows a list of 12 "makeuseof.com" pages, NONE of which I visited! Why? A 'hack' or trick to increase page rank?
      Causing the very annoyance the information is trying to reduce.
      I would drop a screen shot here of my list of 12 visited tabs if I could.

  4. Kjetil S.
    May 11, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Many tabs use much more CPU when they are the active tab (the one in focus in the chrome windows now). You can check that out for yourself with Shift-ESC.

    Just like Youtube streams video in the active tab and audio only in other inactive tabs (makes sense). At least this is what I think I see in Ubuntu/Linux, not sure about Windows or Mac.

  5. Jeremy Westerfield
    September 6, 2017 at 8:03 am

    "You will see a list of all tabs open in Chrome"
    Except that I don't. I have 33 tabs open right now, but Chrome's only showing me 18 processes. Do you know what could be causing this odd behavior?

    • Claudemir
      September 10, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Chrome halts some tabs to save cpu power.

  6. Dave D
    September 5, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks for the tip. On my MacBook Pro it's under Window -> Task Manager. The shortcut also doesn't work on OS X. Interestingly at 1.1GB this page was using the most memory in my list :)

  7. Elizabeth McCumber
    April 11, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    I pulled up "chrome:view-http-cache" in chrome. How do I delete it? Thank You, Beth