This is How Google is Fixing Chrome’s Memory Problems and Discarding Tabs

Mihir Patkar 04-09-2015

Google Chrome is great and feature-packed, but Google Chrome is just so slow and annoying. Right? We’ve all complained about Chrome 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 and Google is finally listening. The Internet giant is rolling out major changes to the browser that fix memory problems in the latest stable version, and actively discards unused tabs in the latest unstable version.


Apart from the memory problems, Chrome is fixing battery issues by auto-pausing Flash content. Also, a browser restart will load last opened tabs in the order you viewed them in, and stop loading too many of them. Finally, the Android Chrome browser also gets an update that brings Custom Tabs, which let third-party apps load a link in Chrome faster.

Memory, All Alone in the Moonlight

At this point, Chrome’s RAM issues are well documented Is Chrome Hogging All Your RAM? Make It Behave With These 2 Extensions Chrome or Firefox? This might be the hottest question in today’s tech community, and one you’ll never find a straight answer for. Personally, I think both browsers are great, but have been using Firefox more... Read More . The company itself says that for every open tab in the background takes around 50MB for the renderer process. So even with 10 open tabs, you are using at least 450MB of memory.

In the new Chrome 45, Google detects when a webpage isn’t busy with some task and performs “garbage collection”—a process that eliminates junk on the page and frees up much-needed memory.

Google claims this reduces memory usage by 10% on average, but more on some other sites. Gmail, for instance, reduces memory up to 25%. This update is part of the latest stable Chrome build, v45, and available immediately. It should come as good news to many users.


Apart from this, as we mentioned a few days ago Chrome Blocks Flash Ads, Minecraft Makes You Sad... [Tech News Digest] Chrome battles Flash, Notch hates being rich, Netflix becomes less Epix, T-Mobile limits your data, and Star Stuff explores the early life of Carl Sagan. Read More , Chrome 45 is getting aggressive against Flash, which has proven to be a major battery drain. The new browser will also reload tabs after a reboot in the last order you opened them in. In fact, it’s smart enough not to load all tabs at the same time, and will leave a few unloaded until you actually go to the tab and activate it.

How to Get This Update

If you are an existing Chrome user, go to Menu > Help and About > About Google Chrome and it will give you an option to update, in case it hasn’t automatically updated.

If you aren’t an existing Chrome user, download Google Chrome 45.

But the Big News is in Chrome 46!



The more interesting news, however, comes from the upcoming Chrome 46, which is currently part of the experimental Google Chrome Canary build What Google Chrome Canary Is [Technology Explained] Read More . Google developer Addy Osmani posted that the team is working on “Tab Discarding”—the same approach as what The Great Suspender extension does.

This new feature figures out which tabs you are looking at and which tabs you aren’t really using any more. Noticing an inactive tab, Chrome will “kill” this tab without removing the visual tab from your tab bar itself. If you click on it again, you can reload the tab. Simple enough?

Now, if you’re worried that this means Chrome will start killing tabs you like to keep open for a long time, like your Gmail, then relax. Google has declared the order in which it discards tabs:

  • Internal pages like new tab page, bookmarks, etc.
  • Tabs selected a long time ago
  • Tabs selected recently
  • Apps running in a window
  • Pinned tabs
  • The selected tab

So if you pin tabs you access frequently How To Become A Chrome Power User, Part 2: Bookmarks, Settings & Extensions Google Chrome has built a huge user base that other competing browsers could only dream about. And although there are still some good alternatives, Chrome still has won many of us over. If you've coming... Read More , you have nothing to worry about, unless your memory starts running drastically low.

How to Enable Tab Discarding in Chrome


As mentioned, this feature is part of the Chrome developer build, so you’ll need to download Chrome Canary and run it if you want to try it now.

In your address bar, type “chrome://flags/#enable-tab-discarding” without the quotes and hit Enter. Click “Enable” under the entry for “Enable Tab Discarding”.


Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Relaunch Now” to reboot Chrome.

“A new page called ‘chrome://discards’ (without the quotes) lets you list what tabs are currently open and we try to share some insight into how interesting (we think) they are to you, from most to least,” Google writes.

The Future: Tab Serializing


Google also shared that it is working on something called Tab Serializing for future updates. This tech is kind of like an improved version of Tab Discarding.

In Tab Serializing, Chrome will convert an open tab’s contents into binary, thus saving your current state of browsing that tab. It can then discard the tab in the same way that Tab Discarding works. However, when you later go to reload that tab, you are transported back to the state you were in last; you don’t have to start from scratch in that page.

Meanwhile, On Android


Tab Discarding is already done on Google Android, so the v45 update for the mobile version doesn’t bring that. However, Android Police highlights one new noteworthy feature: Custom Tabs.

Custom Tabs aren’t something that you, as a user, need to do anything with. But it will help how you use the phone. This feature gives third-party apps access to opening a link in Chrome, but doing it much faster than opening the Chrome browser and a tab in it. Instead, a Custom Tab lets that app open a lightweight Chrome tab with the link.

Our tests showed Chrome is the fastest browser on Android What's the Fastest Android Browser? 7 Top Apps Ranked With so many Android browsers available, which are the fastest? Here are the best browser apps on Android. Read More , so this news is welcome since it means you get the fastest browser without the bloat.

How to Get Chrome 45 on Android

You can go to the Play Store and download Google Chrome for Android. Existing users can update the app from the same link.

If you can’t see the updated Chrome 45 on the Play Store, you can download the APK directly What's the Fastest Android Browser? 7 Top Apps Ranked With so many Android browsers available, which are the fastest? Here are the best browser apps on Android. Read More . This will require you to manually install the app on Android How to Manually Install or Sideload Apps on Android Want to sideload apps on your Android phone? Installing APKs manually on Android opens up a whole new world of apps, and it's easy to do. Read More . If you aren’t comfortable doing that, we would advise waiting a few days for the official update on the Play Store.

Are You Pleased With Chrome’s Changes?

The news of Chrome addressing its memory issues is the best thing I have read this week. It’s my biggest gripe with the browser and to see not just one but two technologies ready to fight it out in the near future, and another in the pipeline, is great news.

What about you? Are you happy Google is finally making progress on this, or would you like to take a wait-and-watch approach?

Image Credit: geralt / Pixabay

Related topics: Google Chrome, Tab Management.

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  1. Evgeniy
    December 6, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    It is still not enough. If you want to reduce Chrome memory usage then you should suspend inactive tabs. Such extensions like Tabr [Broken Link Removed] , OneTab, The Great Suspender are built for that. They are able to reduce memory consumption up to 80%.

  2. Amin
    November 24, 2015 at 11:12 am

    good article ... tnks

  3. Anonymous
    September 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    I'm on the mainline build. The only slight drawback, or not so slight, is the possibility of losing your place in the page. Chrome is pretty good about this already, though.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 8, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Yeah, that's what they are hoping to fix with Tab Serializing in the future. I can't wait!

  4. Anonymous
    September 6, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Ha ha this is wonderful....

    I thought I'd muck around with this experiment today, so I began to load tabs on my desktop to pull the available memory down since the point was made somewhere above that this feature only works once memory is low. (Exactly how low is low? How is low defined?) But I have too much RAM installed to make this an easy thing. I know, first world problems...sooooo....

    I had the brilliant brain back flip inspiration to use my Chromebook. It's only got 4 GB RAM, and it's far easier to load down to a crawl when I'm (trying to be) productive. I did a forced update, since it was on 45-something, rebooted, and then loaded in a bunch of tabs. And though I didn't completely drain the little Acer, I got memory down to about .4 GB. That should do it! Then...

    I pulled up Task Manager, snapped a screenshot for a base memory use reference, and sashayed over to chrome://flags to enable tab discarding. Couldn't find it! Another flash of brilliant deductive insight took me back to Settings>About Chrome OS, where I discovered:

    Version 45.0.2454.86 beta (64-bit)
    Platform 7262.52.0 (Official Build) beta-channel parrot
    Firmware Google_Parrot.2685.37.0

    It was only an incremental update, and apparently ChromeOS Beta doesn't cruise at the same altitude as Chrome Beta. Foiled again! So for now it's back to trying this on my desktop, which after all this square dancing, I'm not inclined to muddle through right now.

    Again, lol, I'll get 'er done sometime this weekend. Moral of the story? Always take a moment to check your version before going through the motions. Happy day to you all, and now for some World of Tanks. :D

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 7, 2015 at 7:06 am

      Hahahaha sorry you had to go through all that, Kelsey! But man, you're diligent about this experiment, aren't you? Let's see what you find when you're back on Canary...

  5. Anonymous
    September 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    The Only Problem I Have With CHROME Is Their Blunt Disregard For Extensions Outside The CHROME Web Store.

    They Could Have Taken A Softer Approach Like YANDEX.

    YANDEX Disables And Nags You About Most Installed Rogue Extensions, Every Single Time The Browser Starts, But It Is Up To You To Enable Them Again, Or Not, In Bulk And With A Single Mouse Click.

    I Moved From CHROME To OPERA15+, As My Main Browser, Just Because Of That Draconian Change.


    • Anonymous
      September 6, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      I do like how I can run Chrome extensions and add ons inside the new Opera, but the Chrome way of doing it is SUPPOSED to provide more security since the apps in the store are supposedly vetted for nastiness.

      If that's rigorously true, awesome. I'll deal with it for that sake. But as devil's advocate, how do we really know? Maybe they just tell us that to justify forcing us to use the Chrome Store apps only, lol.

      • Anonymous
        September 7, 2015 at 12:11 am

        There Are Several CHROME Clones.

        All Of Them Have Their Own Web Store.

        Most Extensions Are Compatible Among All The Browsers.

        I Download Extensions Under .CRX Format Or .NEX Format And Have Them Stored Locally For Installation In Any Browser Of My Choosing.

        CHROME Does Not Accept .NEX Files, But It Only Takes A Rename To .CRX And They Are Ready To Install ( If They Are Store Legal ).

        CHROME Should Act As YANDEX Did - Protect The Users By Default, But Let Power Users Have A Choice.


        CHROME Clones Sometimes Crash Because Of Memory Issues.

        How Do I Prevent The Crashing ?

        I Have A Customized Extension That Notifies Me When Memory Is Too Low.

        I Chose To Be Notified When Free Memory Goes Under 1GB ( I Have A Total Of 4GB - Only 3.5GB Are Really Used ).

        I Use Another Extension To Suspend All Tabs On Demand, So I Can Have A Lot More Tabs Opened Simultaneously.

        The Tab, That Comes On Focus Next, Is Automatically Unsuspended, And So On.

        Thank You For Responding.

  6. Anonymous
    September 5, 2015 at 11:20 am

    But yes, I'll update. It's 6:19 am here now though...going to work and then I'll try it out this evening when I get home. Good day to ya'!

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 5, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks Kelsey! Whenever you get the time :)

  7. Anonymous
    September 5, 2015 at 6:42 am

    I am on Version 47.0.2498.0 dev-m (64-bit). Canary-->dev-->beta-->Stable

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 5, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Same here, Koshy. How are you liking the new changes so far?

  8. Anonymous
    September 5, 2015 at 2:32 am

    I checked my build level and was surprised to see it's already at version 46...I've enabled tab discarding and disabled The Great Suspender, so let's see what happens....

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 5, 2015 at 5:44 am

      I'm guessing you're on Canary then? The stable version is at 45.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 5, 2015 at 5:44 am

      Either way, I'm curious to hear about your experience with Tab Discarding, as a current Great Suspender user :) Please update when you can.

      • Anonymous
        September 5, 2015 at 11:18 am

        I'm not sure if this is Canary, because it doesn't specifically say it on the About screen.

        Version 46.0.2490.13 beta-m (64-bit)

        • Mihir Patkar
          September 5, 2015 at 3:41 pm

          Usually Canary has a golden Chrome icon instead of the yellow-green-red-blue one. But if you've got v46, that's definitely the version to get the new update, so curious to hear your experience!

        • Anonymous
          September 5, 2015 at 9:20 pm

          After a tentative setup with four or five varied webpages and one highly interesting one (MUO), I let them sit and ferment for about a half hour. Went back, and as I click on to each tab, they don't appear to have reduced or blanked ala The Great Suspender.

          So I wonder exactly what I should be seeing. A blank screen? A website drawn back out of memory so quickly I don't catch the redraw? Should it still be displayed, yet frozen until I activate it?

          The only answer is to check memory usage after opening the tabs, again after allowing them to sit for a while, and then again after reopening. I'm a little rushed tonight, but hopefully I can check all that over the weekend.

          For those of you in the States, Happy Labor Day weekend!

        • Mihir Patkar
          September 6, 2015 at 5:56 am

          Thanks for being so thorough, Kelsey! I appreciate it :) Looking forward to your next update.