Better tab management in ChromeOS, thanks to the desk

Tab management in ChromeOS is far from ideal but Jack Wallen has come up with a workflow that makes it even better.

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Photo: CC Photo Labs / Shutterstock

Tab management is one of the barriers to productivity that I always want to improve. For a while, I adopted the Opera browser because the workspace feature was unrivaled. While it’s still there, I’ve decided to switch back to Firefox (although managing tabs in Firefox is ridiculous at best).

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But when working on a Chromebook, what can you do? Of course, Google has created tab groups for Chrome, but it doesn’t really solve tab management in a way that makes it easy to work with a large number of tabs. However, there is another way to better manage your tabs, which involves the virtual desk feature found in ChromeOS. It was Firefox’s poor tab management that led me to adopt this approach. In Linux, I can easily create virtual desktops and then move Firefox windows to different virtual desks for specific tasks (such as productivity, social networking, etc.). That way, instead of having so many tabs open in one window, I can spread them out on Windows and desktop to manage more efficient tabs.

I show you how it is done.

What you will need

To work with tabs like this, you will need an updated version of ChromeOS I will show ChromeOS 101.0.4951.13 (on Dev Channel).

How to create a new desk

The first thing is to create a new desk. Swipe over your trackpad with three fingers and in the overview of results (Figure A), Click New Desk.

Figure A

Virtual desk overview in ChromeOS.
Virtual desk overview in ChromeOS.

When requested (Figure B), Type a name for the desk (such as work) and press Enter to save the name.

Figure B

Naming your new ChromeOS desk.
Naming your new ChromeOS desk.

Now that you have created your new desk, you are ready to work with the setup However, there is a caveat: you cannot send a Chrome tab to a desk. All you have to do is move the tab to a different Chrome window on a desk (Google, if you’re listening, please make it possible to send tabs to an empty desk).

Click on your new desk and open Chrome. Swipe up three fingers again and go back to the original desk. Right-click the tab you want to move to the new desk and select Remove tab in another window. Desk | Tab (Figure C-Where DESK is the name of the new desk and tab is the name of the tab opened in that Chrome window).

Figure C

The TechRepublic tab is being moved to a new desk.
The TechRepublic tab is being moved to a new desk.

It’s not the most intuitive way to manage your Chrome tabs in ChromeOS, but once you hang it, it will start to make sense. Hopefully, in the upcoming release, ChromeOS developers will refine the process to make it easier. In the meantime, you can at least start using a workflow similar to the one I created to help manage tabs in ChromeOS. If anything, the ability to send a tab to an empty desk would be a step towards a more efficient process.

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