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Clear your browser tabs!

I have too many browser tabs open, I admit it! As I write this, I have 52 tabs open in the main window of my primary browser. And I have 15 browser windows open, each with multiple tabs. This is not healthy! And I know some of you do the same thing… When I start presenting something, and someone sees how many tabs I have open, I often hear them exclaim: It’s not just me!

But having too many tabs and windows open in your browsers is not a good thing. Each tab and each window takes resources from you computer to maintain and keep open. Although the very latest versions of some browsers can essentially idle the windows and tabs that aren’t current, a better practice is to close them altogether. I hear you saying: “but I needed that open! I was referring to that! I was using that tab!” Really? What about the other 50 tabs that are open?

Cognitive load

Generally, we can’t concentrate on that many different things at the same time. That means, that having all those tabs open is wasteful. I’ve started to use a Tab manager browser extension to help. The one I’m using, which is called OneTab Plus, works on Chrome, Firefox and recently Safari. But there are lots of other tab manager options. This one let’s me close all of the tabs in a single window, and create a list of them, which I can then label, within a separate browser window. So when I’ve confined all the tabs relevant to a single project into a single window, I can now easily close them all up into an entry in my OneTab list and get back to them whenever I’m back to working on that project.

A faster mind & computer

Reducing the number of open tabs keeps my system working more smoothly, faster, and with less cross contamination between the different things I’m working on. It’s also good for reducing the mental clutter I have to navigate before getting productive. There are no longer all those other windows open and drawing my attention – so long as I use it! So you may have noticed that your computer seems slow at times. It could be the number of tabs and browser windows you have open! Just like your mind, your computer can get bogged down if it has to maintain memory space and processor resources to keep all those tabs going.

Safe browsing

Keeping a clean browser is also good for security. It makes it easier to clear my browser cache regularly, and to reduce the number of open sites tracking cookies can access. It’s also easier to update your browser, when you don’t worry about losing those open tabs.

I use 4-5 different browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, DuckDuckGo) as I check performance of various tools and sites we support. So that can add to the confusion. I also confine certain browsers for just my online banking, and I don’t use them for other web browsing activity. There are certainly other steps one can take to keep browser use efficient and more secure. Those include clearing out cookies regularly, clearing the cache, and keeping your browsers up-to-date. But all of these steps are easier if you don’t have too many windows and tabs open! It’s a constant struggle to keep a clean browser, and I have to keep reminding myself to do it, but it’s worth it.