Chrome Introduces New Tools to Make Working From Home Less Hellish

Image: Mark Lennihan, AP
Image: Mark Lennihan, AP

If there is one thing I most miss about working in an office, it’s the extra monitor — if only for the fact that tab management was much easier with more screen real estate. (I have a clunky old TV that I attempted to use for the first few weeks of quarantine before realising it was straining my eyes.) If you’re working mostly off of a tiny laptop screen like me, though, Google is introducing a number of features that may make navigating the web a lot less hellish, particularly if you’re the kind of person with an excessive tab habit.

For one, Google announced today that tabs on Chrome will load approximately 10% faster. (And for you Beta users, tab throttling for idle pages is on the way.) Handling CPU load on tab-heavy sessions isn’t all that’s coming, however.

By far my favourite new tool is tab groups, which was introduced in Chrome Beta back in May. I am exactly the kind of tab hoarder who will benefit from this tool, as I generally have at least two separate windows with up to 20 tabs open on each. Basically what this does is allows you to create distinct categories around your browsing habits, allowing you to build a kind of digital filing system.

Gif: Google Chrome

To create one, right-click on a tab and select “Add Tab to Group” and then “New Group.” You’ll then be able to name a new category, add it to an existing one, or select a corresponding colour. You’ll also be able to collapse the associated tabs in a given category to create more space.

Another useful tool (as many of us continue working remotely, without additional monitors that would greatly increase our productivity, hint hint) is the ability to now fill out and save PDFs in the Chrome browser. This feature, which Google says will be rolling out over the coming weeks, will allow you to pick up where you left off next time an edited draft is opened.

Tab previews, which is handy if you have a number of the same kind of tab open at once, are also coming to the Chrome beta soon. While you can currently hover over a tab and see its title, tab previews will create a miniature snapshot of the page with a thumbnail image — a similar feature to the one available in Vivaldi, a significantly less used competing browser. Again, this will likely be most useful to folks working in similarly titled drafts or with multiple of the same kind of tab open.

You’ll need to make sure you’ve updated Chrome in order to access the new tools. As with any new changes, though, Google noted “features sometimes take time until they roll out to every browser.” I don’t know how much time that will be but I hope it’s soon. My eyes hurt so much.