Google Chrome is one of the early trailblazers in tabbed browsing, but the world’s most popular browser is sadly behind on key functionality like tab management. Microsoft Edge, for example, has a Set Aside function that lets you free up the browser to focus on what you’re doing right now. Chrome has no such option. Fortunately, Google Chrome extensions for this abound.
But first, how much of your RAM does Google Chrome actually take up when you have multiple tabs open?
ITPro did a test last year using an 8GB RAM MacBook Pro and an Acer with comparable specs. To cut a long story short Google Chrome used almost 600MB of RAM when just five web pages were open. If you’re like me then you typically have at least a dozen to 15 tabs open, and multiple browser windows to make switching easier. Extrapolating from ITPro’s test, my 15 tabs should be using up about 1.8GB of RAM. On an 8GB system that’s more than 20% of RAM resource. No wonder I used to find myself staring at the spinning color-wheel most of the time! Fortunately, there are several things you can do to cut Google Chrome’s RAM usage.
The general advice is to close unnecessary tabs, disable extensions and plug-ins, keep Chrome up to date, clear the cache, check for malware, use tab discarding and so on. These are great, but they’re all housekeeping tasks that you should be doing periodically anyway. What if you’ve done everything above and still find that Google Chrome is not as responsive as you’d like?
The Best Google Chrome Extensions for Tab Management
#1: The Great Suspender
As the name suggests, this suspends the activity of unused tabs. It’s a flexible utility in that you can set a preconfigured time after which a tab will automatically be suspended, or you can manually suspend it. The suspended tabs are also retained when closing the browser so when you open it again the tabs are available to activate right away. To activate a tab you simply click anywhere on the webpage.
#2: Tab Wrangler
Another user favorite, Tab Wrangler puts everything into a convenient list called a Tab Corral that you can easily access whenever you need to. It also tells you when the tab was “wrangled”. While the functionality is similar to The Great Suspender, this one actually closes the tabs in question, making them available for later use. Either way, you get a lot of RAM freed up when you use this extension.
This one’s my favorite because it allows you to create groups of tabs, lock them and restore them one at a time or all together. You can also share the list as a web page. The best part is that this reduces Google Chrome’s CPU usage by up to 95%, which is exactly what I need when I have twenty or thirty tabs open for various simultaneous projects I’m working on.
There are, of course, several other useful extensions you can add to your Chrome browser, but these three have been tried and tested by thousands of users, and they have shown that they can get the job done better than most others.