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Are You in Love With a Clean Browser, or Do You Feel More Tabs is Better?

35407674_759976153a[1]As a general rule, netizens can be divided into two groups: those who can’t open enough tabs to suit themselves, and those who close tabs neatly and promptly.

I am most definitely in the former group. I firmly believe that so long as I have unused RAM, I don’t have enough tabs open in my web browsers. And I’m not the only one:

I used to assume everyone browsed Just Like Me, until a friend recoiled in horror from the sight of my stuffed browser. Apparently not everyone works or plays online with roughly 20,000 tabs open. How do you do it?

While that’s a (mild) exaggeration, I just counted and I generally have between 10-20 tabs open, never less, far often more. I’m not about to claim that it’s not occasionally confusing, but I’ve managed pretty well throughout a decade of working online.

In fact, I find my mass of tabs comforting — I’ll often open one not to use immediately but as a reminder to read something later that I couldn’t get to in the day.

But not everyone feels that way. I know, for example, that my mother only has a few tabs open and regularly closes the browser window – even though she’s going to open many of the same tabs tomorrow.

So how do you feel about tabs?

While this might seem like a silly topic, for some of us multi-tabbers it is a pretty serious issue.  One too many encounters with zero-tabbers closing a web browser window after borrowing my computer has forced me to forbid anyone from using my computer out of fear that they might lose important work. (This was back before Chrome and FF were good about saving your previous state so it could be restored, but the pain lingers.)

So tell me, are you a zero-tabber or a multi-tabber? Or do you fall somewhere in between?


image by Kris Krug

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AltheGreatandPowerful March 10, 2015 um 9:43 pm

What kind of knucklehead can’t bother to bookmark sites so they live in fear someone will close the browser? Trust but bookmark!

R March 10, 2015 um 10:46 pm

I have about 10 sites that I visit every day to get new information (including this one). I always close my tabs one by one. Then I will close my browser and delete all the records including cookies etc (to avoid tracking). When I logged in any service such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook etc. I always make sure that I don’t browser other websites, so that they cannot track my habit. Of course, I also use multiple add-ons of Firefox to help me.

lorenet March 10, 2015 um 11:44 pm

I’m a multi-tabber. Finding bookmarks can sometimes be a problem. I pop between multiple tabs, sometimes even between IE and Chrome. I’m operating slim right now with only 6 tabs open.

mike March 11, 2015 um 4:06 am

well, I must confess I always have between 70 and 80 open tabs on my main browser window 🙂 that is to say, I also usually have two or five more browser windows open with maybe 5 to 10 open tabs each!! mostly, those "extra" windows are open thematically, for example one may have several pages with book reviews from blogs or magazines, other is only for game reviews and yet another for listening music (mostly live shows) from youtube, some other for IT related themes… aside from all that, I use bookmarks/favorites (though not much as before, as those lists tend to be heavily cluttered even with some organization) and evernote to save interesting pages to read later on some mobile device.
the thing is, after a few days my laptop starts refusing to open any more tabs, or refreshing the open ones, for long seconds (minutes, sometimes), so I need to save the current browser session, close all browser windows and shutdown the laptop about every fortnight.

Sharon Reamer March 11, 2015 um 5:05 am

I’m in between. When I’m uploading books or compiling information and links for a blog or such, I have a bunch of tabs open. But then I close them all when I’m done.

I am a closer, for the most part. But I will leave something open if I’m going to read it later on in the day. I have enough clutter in my life (my whole house), and I guess that plays a role.

I rely a lot on history (in Firefox) to get back to things I’ve closed and then need to access again.

Feda March 11, 2015 um 7:11 am

I hate tabbed browsers and don’t use tabs. I open a browser when I want to go to the internet and close it when I’m done. I rarely have more than 2 instances of a browser opened.

Hayden March 11, 2015 um 7:17 am

I am a multi-tabber and usually have no fewer than 12 tabs at any given time. I don’t understand closers.

Loïc Lacombe March 11, 2015 um 7:34 am

Hardcore multitabber here and it’s even worse since I have discovered Firefox native tab groups. I always have bout 50 tabs at my workplace, and 30 additional at home.
I use tab groups as workspace to isolate my work themes, about 3 or 4 groups.
Once in a while, I weed my tabs and save old groups as folders in bookmarks.

Marsha March 11, 2015 um 8:41 am

I love that I can have groups of tabs in Firefox. That way my "closer" daughter can see only the tabs in the current group and is less aware that there are dozens more tucked away in other groups. Why bookmark when I can just keep a tab open until I’m no longer interested in the site?

Becki March 11, 2015 um 8:59 am

I am a moderate tabber, usually having 3-8 tabs open while I’m at work. However, as other people use my desk (a reference desk at a public library), I can’t set things just to my taste. At home, it drives me nuts when my husband opens a new window instead of a new tab, or closes my browser when I have several tabs open. So we have a rule: he only uses Firefox on our home computer, and I only use Chrome, and we don’t touch the other’s browser. 🙂

Juli Monroe March 11, 2015 um 8:59 am

I guess I’m in between. I usually have at least 5 tabs open (it’s early right now, and I only have three, but that will grow throughout the day). I rarely have more than 10 open, though. I do close tabs once I’m done with them, but I rarely close my browser until the end of the day, and I often forget even then.

I use Pocket to keep stuff I want to read later. That does save me a few tabs.

DavidW March 11, 2015 um 10:14 am

I usually have several tabs open but the # increases or decreases as I close and open tabs. I always permanently have two open– home email and work email. I range from 2-12 tabs.

ucfgrad93 March 11, 2015 um 10:27 am

I usually have less than 5 tabs open, and I close them when I’m done.

Fritz G March 11, 2015 um 10:58 am

I generally have about half a dozen tabs open across two browsers, Chrome and Firefox, with most of the tabs being open in Chrome. But I’m retired and have all the time I need to browse at my leisure. I can understand how someone who is on more of a schedule to get things done might be happy with more tabs open.

Frank Skornia March 11, 2015 um 11:39 am

I’ll open a bunch of tabs in a session. Especially if I’m going through link compilations like your Morning Coffee posts or search results. Then I’ll work my way through them, closing them as I’m finished with them. Sometimes the collection of tabs will stay open if I need to leave the computer, and often I’ll open a new browser window to keep browser still filled with tabs in reserve. Eventually they’ll all be closed though.

I used to do the same thing before tabbed browsing was available, except with opening browser windows, so I still have a bad habit of closing my browsers with tabs (or with streaming music playing), and have to reopen it again and restore from my history.

Mike Ranson March 11, 2015 um 2:38 pm

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step towards rehabilitation. Well, okay, here goes…

I have a tab habit!

But, the problem, you see, is that…

And I like it! How can anything that feels so good be wrong?

I am an unrepentant little tabber. I’ve also become a tab time traveller. The further left you go on my browser, the farther back in time – I usually group related tabs, so sometimes an old tab will get dragged up from the primordial ooze on the lefthand side of the screen, but most of the time they lurk there, taking up RAM, promising much but delivering little. Some of these are Reminder Tabs, and some are 'Things I’m Doing But Bot Right Now' tabs. Others are 'That’s Very Interesting Tabs' and these are usually the hardest to get rid of in my regular tab cleanup sweeps.

Unlike some who’ve commented, I’ve usually bookmarked my tabs so, in theory, could operate a clean browser. But despite getting very librarian with my bookmark labels and sorting, I still lose things or, more typically, simply forget about them. So I prefer to keep the relevant tab open until the task is done, or the content thoroughly consumed, or its relevance to any six month period of my life is well and truly exhausted… at which time I send it to Tab Heaven.

But sometimes, and rather mysteriously, they come back!

Which begs a question: if you keep a tab open long enough, does it acquire a life of its own?


Robert Nagle March 12, 2015 um 2:48 am

I actually find it strange when I glance over somebody’s shoulder and see a browser window with less than 10 tabs open.

There was a time a year or two ago when I realized that I had about 215 tabs on one window open simultaneously. Clearly excessive, but having 100+ tabs is pretty much normal to me. (I keep firefox and chrome open, so I can basically remember that I have certain kinds of pages on one browser and other kinds on another).

It started out because Internet connections were not particularly fast , but it got to that point because I simply am sick of having to decide one by one which browser windows need to be closed. Usually I just close the entire browser and if I really need to look something up, I will check browser history.

(At the moment I seem to have about 50 or 50 tabs open and I seem to remember just opening up this browser an hour ago).

I don’t like having this many tabs open; it’s clumsy and slows my computer down, but that’s what I do.

Robert Nagle March 12, 2015 um 2:56 am

Two more things. I really appreciate it that Firefox now adds an audio icon to the tab to indicate where sound is emanating from. (Youtube has gotten pretty good at detecting if you have more than one youtube tab open and allowing sound from only one at a time.

There were times when I would go to sleep and 2 hours later be awakened by some loud and annoying sound clip or audio ads which suddenly decided to start playing. Sometimes I would keep closing things without ever figuring out from where the sound comes. There’s one annoying business news website that automatically starts a sound or video while being really making it obvious that it’s the one that’s doing it. Yuck!

Rob Siders March 12, 2015 um 1:20 pm

So. Many. Tabs.

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