How to group tabs in Google Chrome (and free yourself from browser chaos)

Somewhere in the dim and distant past, we all switched from looking at one webpage at a time, to having dozens of tabs open simultaneously—and our attention spans have never been the same since. Managing all of these open tabs can be a problem, for some more so than others, but Google Chrome has a helpful feature you can make use of.

That feature is tab grouping, and it works exactly how it sounds: You group multiple tabs together in specific digital buckets, so you can more easily manage them. They can then be moved, opened, or closed in batches, so you don’t need to have a pile of tabs open that you’re not actually using.

You can group tabs in whatever way you like: You can have specific groups for specific projects, for example, or split tabs between work and personal browsing, or have groups for social media and video streaming. It’s completely up to you. Here’s how to get started with tabs in Chrome on the desktop or on mobile.

(By the way, if you prefer using a different browser, tab grouping is also available in a lot of Chrome’s competitors—though we’re focusing on Google’s browser here.)

Tab groups on the desktop

screenshot of tabs in web browser
You can use tab groups for whatever purpose you want. Screenshot: Google

The trusty right-click is the key to getting started with tab groups in Chrome on the desktop. Right-click on any tab header, and you’ll see a bunch of options.

  • Choose Add Tab to New Group to create a new group, and put this tab in it.
  • Enter a name and choose a color for your new group.
  • Enable Save Group to put a link to the group on the bookmarks bar.
  • If you’ve already created at least one group, you’ll see an Add tab to group option as well—choose this to put the selected tab in an existing group.

This bookmarks bar sits just below the toolbar—if you can’t see it, press Ctrl+Shift+B (Windows) or Cmd+Shift+B (macOS). Shortcuts to saved tap groups appear to the left of your bookmarks, so you can quickly get back to them.

The way saved tab group shortcuts work can be a bit confusing. If you close down a Chrome window by clicking the X in the corner of the window, the tab group shortcut will still be there when you reopen the browser. However, if you close down all the tabs in the group individually, via the X on the tabs themselves, the tab group shortcut will disappear—Chrome assumes you no longer need the group, as you closed all its tabs.

screenshot of tabs in browser
Right-click on a group name to bring up a menu of options. Screenshot: Google

If you want to keep a link to a saved tab group shortcut visible on the bookmarks bar, but don’t actually want the tab group open on screen, right-click the name of the group on the tab header bar, then choose Hide group.

Click and drag a tab group name to move all of its tabs at once, and right-click it to get to more options—for renaming and deleting the group, for changing its assigned color, for moving the group to a new window, and for ungrouping all the tabs in a group.

Click once on a tab group name on the tab header bar to hide (or show) all the tabs in it—a quick and useful way of tidying up your open tabs. Another neat trick: Just drag a tab header into a group to add it to that group.

Tab groups on Android

screenshot of tabs in mobile browser
A tab group on Android. Screenshot: Android

If you’re using Chrome on Android, you can use tab groups there as well, though they work in a slightly different way. Your tab groups don’t sync between the desktop and Android, and tab groups aren’t available in Chrome on iOS—at least not at the moment.

  • Tap the square icon in the top right corner (if you’ve got multiple tabs open, it’ll have a number inside it).
  • Select + New tab to create new tabs—in this way, open up the sites you want to group.
  • Tap the square icon (top right) again to get back to the overview. 
  • Press and hold on any tab thumbnail, then drag it on top of another thumbnail to create a group.

Tap on any tab group to visit individual tabs and remove tabs (with the X). You can add new tabs to the group via the + (plus) icon. Tap the three dots (top right) to rename the tab group, or select multiple tabs (so they can be ungrouped or bookmarked in batches).

While it’s not quite as flexible and intuitive as the desktop system, you can still use this to better manage your tabs on Android, and sort these tabs into separate categories.

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