Master Tab Management in Chrome with These Built-in Features

Akshata Shanbhag 04-03-2016

Which came first: browser tabs or browser windows? I don’t know, but I do know how to keep them both in line.


We previously showed you some incredible ways to manage tabs in Firefox 12 Incredibly Useful Ways to Manage Multiple Tabs in Firefox We all need an extension (or ten!) to wrestle browser tabs into submission effortlessly. Especially you, you tab hoarder. Read More . Now it’s time to master tab management in Chrome. Let’s see what’s possible without installing a single extension. We’ll show you a mix of keyboard shortcuts and mouse-based tips that’ll make handling tabs easier, smoother, and maybe even enjoyable.


Remember, if you use a Mac, you’ll have to replace Ctrl with Cmd and Alt with Option to make use of the keyboard shortcuts we discuss here.

Opening and Closing Tabs

Let’s begin with the most basic of all browser actions: opening and closing tabs. In Chrome, you can open a new tab with Ctrl + T and close the current tab with Ctrl + W. For closing tabs, Ctrl + F4 or a middle-click with the mouse also works. You can drag and drop a link onto the active tab to open it right there. If you want to open the link in a new tab, drag and drop it to any spot on the tab bar.

If you’d like to open any link on a web page in a new background tab, instead of going through its context menu, hit Ctrl + Enter. Adding the Shift key i.e. Ctrl + Shift + Enter opens the link in a new foreground tab instead. To open a link in a new window, try Shift + Enter. Feel free to replace the Enter key with a left click of the mouse in these shortcuts.


You can program Chrome to open a specific set of tabs How to Open Multiple Specific Tabs on Launch in Chrome You can boost your productivity by configuring Chrome to launch a specific set of tabs when it's launched. Read More on every launch, but if you want to keep just a handful of tabs available for quick access, pin them to Chrome. Do this for each tab with the Pin Tab option from its context menu. There’s no keyboard shortcut for this one. But there should be, right?

Here’s a neat trick if you want search results for your omnibox queries to open in a new tab instead of the current one. Hold down the Alt key before you hit Enter. Ta-da!

Closed a tab without meaning to? Don’t worry. Ctrl + Shift + T will revive it. Keep hitting that shortcut for up to 10 times to bring back the most recently closed tabs in the opposite order that you closed them i.e. on a last-in, first-out basis.



If you prefer mouse clicks over keystrokes, right-click on any tab to find the option to close tabs and reopen closed ones. You’ll find more useful options in this context menu, including Close Other Tabs, Close Tabs to the Right, and Duplicate.

If you want to speed up tab closing, Chrome has an experimental feature for you. You can enable it via chrome://flags. Look for Enable fast tab/window close (Hint: use Ctrl – F). That’s the one!

While you’re making that change, you might want to enable this other feature: Enable Offline Auto-Reload Mode. This ensures that if your browser is recovering from a failed Internet connection, you don’t have to reload each tab manually. Chrome does it for you after you enable that setting.


If you want to reload only the visible tabs, try this flag instead: Only Auto-Reload Visible Tabs. You’ll need to relaunch Chrome for these changes to take effect.

Managing Windows


We recommend splitting up your online sojourns into separate (logical) windows. It’s somewhat easier to keep track of your tabs that way.

To open a new window, all you have to do is hit Ctrl + N. Of course, you can take the longer route and use File > New Window to do the same thing. If you want to move a tab from an existing window to a new one of its own, just drag it out of the current window. Changed your mind midway? Hit Esc and that tab will return to its original position.


To move a bunch of tabs to a new window, first hold down the Shift key before you select them one by one. Now drag the whole set out of the current window.

If you use Chrome’s incognito mode often, memorize the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + N to bring up a new incognito window quickly (and remember this when you go incognito online 4 Things to Keep in Mind When You Go Incognito Online Incognito Mode (or private browsing in general) may not be as safe as you think it is. Here are some important things to keep in mind before the next time you do. Read More ). The incognito mode is great for tasks like finding cheaper deals while shopping Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing Private-browsing mode has many other names, including "incognito mode" in Chrome and "InPrivate Browsing" in Internet Explorer. Some people refer to private-browsing mode as "porn mode", but it isn't just for porn addicts. It can... Read More , logging into accounts on a borrowed computer, and printing multiple coupons.

Easy Tab Switching

You can cycle through your Chrome tabs in the forward direction with Ctrl + Tab or in the backward direction with Ctrl + Shift + Tab. Mac users, listen up. For these tab switching shortcuts, you’ll need to stick with the Ctrl key even on OS X instead of switching to the Cmd key.


By the way, if you’re on Windows, you can also use Ctrl + Pg dn to switch to the next tab and Ctrl + Pg up to switch to the previous tab. And Mac users can also use Cmd + Option + right/left arrow to cycle through tabs. As expected, using the right arrow for the shortcut takes you to the next tab and using the left one takes you to the previous tab.

Did you know that you can hit Ctrl + 1 to switch to the first tab, Ctrl + 2 to go the second tab, and so on? This works for up to eight tabs i.e. till Ctrl + 8. There is a task assigned to Ctrl + 9. It always takes you to the rightmost tab in the current window. It doesn’t matter is you have five tabs open or a hundred. Ctrl + 9 will always take you to the first tab on the right.

Silencing Tabs

You can’t do much about auto-playing audio and video content embedded in web pages, but at least you can shut it up by muting it. Web users craved the option to mute tabs so much that most of the top browsers have granted their wish and added it as a native feature. But Chrome got there first I Hate Google Chrome But I'm Trapped In It. Here's Why In the Chrome vs. Firefox war, I'm siding with the Google users. But I don't want to. Chrome is my browser of choice because it has features that I can't live without. Read More .


Chrome — as well as browsers like Safari and Firefox — allows you to mute any tab via the tab’s right-click menu or context menu. Also, you’ll see a tiny volume icon on tabs that have audio/video playing. On Safari and Firefox, clicking on that icon on any tab mutes that tab. That won’t work on Chrome unless you go to chrome://flags, set the Enable tab audio muting UI control flag to enabled, and relaunch Chrome.

Pausing Tabs

Google is working on a tab discarding feature as part of its drive to fix memory problems in Chrome This is How Google is Fixing Chrome's Memory Problems and Discarding Tabs Google Chrome is just so slow and annoying. Right? Google is now rolling out major changes to the browser that fix memory problems and actively discards unused tabs. Read More . You can try this feature right away by setting the Enable tab discarding flag in chrome://flags. Once you do this and relaunch Chrome, it’ll “kill” inactive tabs to save on memory, but it’ll retain them in your tab bar. You can reload those discarded tabs in a single click.

There’s a fixed priority order in which Chrome will discard tabs. Internal pages like Bookmarks go first. Pinned tabs and the active tab are the last to go, and that’s only when you’re running really low on memory.

Tab discarding is just one of the hidden Chrome settings 10 Hidden Chrome Settings You Should Change There’s more to Chrome settings than the basic tweaks you made when you first set up your browser. Let’s see what that involves. Read More that you can experiment with.

Bookmarking All Open Tabs in One Go

Sometimes getting rid of open tabs and starting with a brand new tab is the most direct way to reclaim some headspace and start breathing again.

You don’t have to lose any of your useful open tabs or even bookmark them one by one to save them for another day. Dump the entire bunch into a single folder in your Bookmarks and restore it in a couple of clicks when you’re ready to tackle all those tabs once again.

To bookmark all open tabs in one shot, right-click on any tab and click on Bookmark All Tabs… in the context menu to save all those tabs in a new, dedicated folder. When you want to open them again, right-click on the folder and you’ll be able to select whether you want to open them all together in the current window or in a new window.

It’s Time to Wrap Up

Chrome’s built-in tab management features are a good place to start taking control of your tabs. Even if you have a ridiculous number of them open, there’s still hope for you as long as you stick to some good habits for dealing with tabs. And not just in Chrome, but in any browser.

Do you use the mouse or the keyboard for fast browsing? Which shortcuts do you rely on to navigate and manipulate Chrome tabs at warp speed? Share your favorite ones in the comments!

Image Credits: magician performing trick by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock, anitakhart via Compfight cc, mediapinta via Compfight cc

Related topics: Google Chrome, Tab Management.

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  1. B
    August 9, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    "When you want to open them again, right-click on the folder and you’ll be able to select whether you want to open them all together in the current window or in a new window."

    I did this all the time but as of yesterday, I can no longer find this feature!

  2. Kenn A Stephenson
    February 21, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Is there a way to open a new tab in Chrome that is a duplicate of the tab you're in now?? In other words, I want to open a new tab that has the same page loaded as the tab I'm in. ie rather than leave an Amazon tab I'm in, I just want a new Amazon tab with the product displayed that I'm looking at now.

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      February 22, 2017 at 3:10 am

      The Duplicate option is available in the right-click menu of every tab, Kenn. Please refer to the first screenshot in the Opening and Closing Tabs section of the article.

      • Kenn A Stephenson
        February 22, 2017 at 4:37 pm

        Thanks !!
        That screen shot is messed up and unreadable on my Mac. But now I see what it is supposed to say.


  3. eira
    June 11, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    how to close all other inactive tabs in google chrome...?
    plz tell me..!

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      June 13, 2016 at 4:13 am

      An extension like OneTab can help.

  4. Anonymous
    March 6, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    ( Usable In Several CHROME Clones )

    A - If You Can Not Find The Culprit Noisy Tab Quickly, Then Use Extension With Code ID "DMNIJDNINDLGGPBPHAOKOBMEJLKMNEIP" - You Can Toggle The Sound On And Off From All Tabs At The Same Time,

    B - Plenty Of Quiet Time To Find The Bugger.


    • Akshata Shanbhag
      March 7, 2016 at 11:53 am

      I remember covering Mute Tabs in another article. Thank you for sharing it :)

      • Anonymous
        March 8, 2016 at 5:36 am

        Thank You For Responding.

  5. Anonymous
    March 4, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    You said "you can also use Ctrl + Pg up to switch to the next tab and Ctrl + Pg dn to switch to the previous tab". It's the other way around.

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      March 7, 2016 at 6:22 am

      Thanks for pointing that out, Peter. Fixed!