Google Chrome is getting Tab Groups soon
Tabbed browsing has not changed all that much ever since browsers made an evolutionary leap from displaying a single site per browser window to separating sites in tabs in a single browser window.
There has been some progress. Some extensions and browsers support displaying tabs vertically instead of horizontally, and some browsers support tab groups to improve the manageability of tabs. Mozilla actually had a Tab Groups feature called Panorama in Firefox but removed it in Firefox 45. The organization launched Containers which used a similar concept but focused on privacy instead.
Rumors emerged in 2018 that Google was working on a tab grouping feature for the company's Chrome web browser but nothing was revealed or released in 2019; this changes with today's announcement that the upcoming tab groups feature of the Chrome browser is now available in Chrome Beta (for some users).
The feature works differently than tab groups or tab stacks in other browsers. Chrome users may right-click on any tab to create a new tab group in the browser. Tab groups may be labeled and named, and then moved or reordered directly from the tab strip. It is naturally possible to drag sites from one tab group to another.
The current iteration focuses on better manageability of tabs in Chrome's tab strip: first by adding labels and colors, then by allowing users to interact with entire groups. A click on the label displays options to change the name and color, to create a new tab in the group, ungroup the entire tab group, or to close it. Groups can also be moved to new windows.
What is missing is an option to minimize a tab group or even hide it from Google Chrome's tab strip. Chrome's current tab grouping mechanism offers no option to make tabs use less space on the tab bar.
Chrome users who want to test the new feature can do so in the following way provided that Chrome Beta, Dev or Canary is used:
- Load chrome://flags/#tab-groups in the browser's address bar.
- Set the feature to Enabled.
- Restart the Chrome browser.
You should get the new tab grouping option when you right-click on a tab in the browser.
Google's tab grouping feature is interesting to a degree as it a solution that is visually appealing. I think that it is an oversight that tab groups lack minimize options so that only the label is shown in the Chrome tab strip. It is in my opinion mostly useful to users who move tabs around a lot or like to work on a project before closing all tabs associated with it. The latter can also be achieved by using different browser windows though.
Nothing beats tab stacks that the old Opera web browser and the (current) Vivaldi browser supports in my opinion.
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