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Cover image for Why do you Have Too Many Tabs Opened? An almost imaginary conversation with my 5 years old nephew
Jean-Michel ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Fayard
Jean-Michel ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Fayard

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Why do you Have Too Many Tabs Opened? An almost imaginary conversation with my 5 years old nephew

Why do you have 42 tabs open in your browser right now?

A lack of tooling would be the obvious answer, but really you have searched long enough already for the perfect tool that can manage hundreds of tabs.

It didn't really work, did it?

I was at that point too, so I tried something a bit different:

I discussed the topic with my 5 years old nephew, a monster who is adorable but also who is never tired of asking me


I'm assuming here that my name is Bob.

๐ŸŽฎ Let's play ?

  • 5yo: Uncle Bob! Uncle Bob! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป
  • Bob: Hello nephew, what's up?
  • 5yo: Can you play some cool game with me?
  • Bob: Unfortunately no, I don't have time, I'm super busy in the last months
  • 5yo: Oh too bad.

๐Ÿ˜ฃ You have too many tabs opened

  • 5yo: So why are you busy?
  • 5yo: Are you cleaning your code once again?
  • Bob: No no, my code is always super clean.
  • 5yo: Sounds cool.
  • Bob: It's my tabs that bother me.
  • 5yo: I don't know what tabs are, but why are they bothering you?
  • Bob: I just have too many tabs opened, such an horrible thing...
  • 5yo: Oh no. So can you explain me what tabs are like I'm five?
  • bob: Sure. You remember this browser thing I do most of my work with. It used to be Chrome but I switched to Firefox because Firefox is great and also I don't like tech monopolies.
  • 5yo: oh yes thanks for that, the Firefox panda is super cute
  • Bob: So having too many tabs opened means simply that I have many webpages opened in Firefox.
  • 5yo: Oh ok. Got it. That doesn't sound so bad, no?
  • Bob: If you have two windows with each 5 tabs no it's fine. But I have many many tabs opened!
  • 5yo: You are funny uncle Bob. How many tabs do you have right now?
  • Bob: Well let me see, 16 in a first window 27 in this one, 32 in a third one. So that's... Oh no I also have this minimized window with 25 additional tabs.
  • 5yo: Ok, but I can only count up to 17, can you count for me?
  • Bob: 101 exactly
  • 5yo: Funny that's like my favorite Walt Disney. I also thought I would be overwhelmed if I had 101 dogs at home.
  • Bob: You got it, you smart little boy.

๐Ÿค” Wait but Why?

  • 5yo: But why don't you close all thoser tabs if they are stressing you so much?
  • Bob: What?
  • 5yo: I mean the 101 dogs are cute animals that you have to keep feeding and caring for
  • Bob: Yes indeed
  • 5yo: But for your 101 tabs, why can't you close all of them?
  • Bob: Well it's not so simple. I'm very afraid that this could happen actually. Something crashes and I loose my tabs, and Firefox for some reason can't restore them

๐Ÿ’กTabs are just a list of URLs


  • 5yo: Why would it be bad to close the tabs?
  • Bob: Because those 101 tabs are actually 101 URLs that each represent everything I do in the internet in general and in my work in particular.
  • 5yo: What's an URL?
  • Bob: Oh right. Well it's pretty simple and pretty cool at the same time. It's simple because it's the adress you see in the Firefox bar. It's cool because the URL is huge but any part of any webpage can be associated directly with this adress. That's why when you have the right 101 URLs you are one click away of opening exactly the exact thing you need on the internet.
  • 5yo: Wow, URLs are pretty cool
  • Bob: Right and that's why tabs are really cool too by extension.
  • 5yo: Until you have 101 tabs/URLs and then it's stressing you out?
  • Bob: Well. Right. That's my issue I guess.

๐Ÿ˜“ Why the stress?

  • 5yo: But why are the 101 tabs/URLs stressing you out actually?
  • Bob: Well there are a number of reasons. I guess the fear of loosing them and having to start from scratch is one. Also they can consume a lot of computer memory (RAM) and make my computer slow. But mostly the more tabs I have opened, the more I struggle to find the tab I need right now.
  • 5yo: Sounds like URLs are really cool, but URLs in too many tabs not so much.
  • Bob: Well. Right.

๐Ÿค” Can you have the URLs elsewhere and be happy?

  • 5yo: But then why don't you put the 101 URLs elsewhere, outside of your browser?
  • Bob: Elsewhere?
  • 5yo: I don't know, you told me that an URL is just this single line of text in the adress bar.
  • Bob: Well. Right. Sure therotically I can. I'm just not sure where?
  • 5yo: What have you tried already?
  • Bob: Mmh. Mostly I have tried bookmarks but they have their own set of problems. If you use multiple browser or computer or accounts you loose your bookmarks. And I never managed to organize bookmarks in a hierarchy that makes sense. I prefer tabs over bookmarks.
  • 5yo: I see. Have you tried something else?
  • Bob: Not really, I'm out of ideas already.
  • 5yo: What kind of URLs do you have anyway?
  • Bob: Well that's a good question. I'm not sure. Let me check.
  • 5yo: OK

โ˜‘๏ธ The TODO list

  • Bob: So I have like 12 URLs that are little tasks I need to do and don't want to forget
  • 5yo: Can you put those URLs outside of your too many tabs?
  • Bob: Well sure you're right. That's where a good todo list is supposed to help you. I was just too busy to re-organize/simplify my todo list to make it non overwhelming.
  • 5yo: Cool. What else do you get?
  • Bob: Sure, done.

๐Ÿ”– The Browser Toolbar

  • Bob: So some of my URLs are things I access all the time and I want to be acess them quickly, that's why I keep them open.
  • 5yo: Can you put those URLs outside of your too many tabs?
  • Bob: Actually yes, the bookmark bar is supposed to do that. I was just too busy with my too many tabs issue to organize it properly. Making a mental note to do that tomorrow.
  • 5yo: Cool! What else do you get?

๐Ÿ“š The Reading List

  • Bob: So another huge category of URLs that I have is simply articles I want to read but I didn't have time to read yet. There are great authors on and wanted to see what kind of work they produce. Also random links I got send via Twitter, Slack, Hacker News, ...
  • 5yo: Sounds like lot of work
  • Bob: Yes
  • 5yo: Can you put those URLs outside of your too many tabs?
  • Bob: Well actually yes again. I can have some sort of reading list of articles I want to read next.
  • 5yo: Do you know how to do that?
  • Bob: I have never really done that yet, but I heard Jean-Michel Fayard telling me that he used the Checkvist keyboard-driven outliner for that with great success. I can surely give it a try.
  • 5yo: Cool. What else do you get?

๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ผ Work stuff

  • Bob: Well look, in my day to day job, I'm working for some company to investigate some issue . All the information I need is in the internet, but the question is where? So I open lot of tabs.
  • 5yo: Cool. Can you put those URLs outside of your too many tabs?
  • Bob: sure actually. Once I have selected what are the most helpful resources, I can put them in the ticket I'm working on. Or in our internal wiki if that's interesting for the colleagues.
  • 5yo: Cool. What else do you get?

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป Learning Resources

  • Bob: Well when I'm learning something, I look for information all over the place to find the best ones and that means having lots of opened tabs. For example right now I'm learning the Kotlin programming language and I have a dozen tabs opened that explain various aspect of it.
  • 5yo: Cool. Can you put those URLs outside of your too many tabs?
  • Bob: Well sure, I can write down my favorite resources and the things I learned in some sort of personal knowledge base. Actually then I can take notes of the cool tricks I am learning with Kotlin. And then I have lots of ideas of what to publish next on
  • 5yo: Do you know how to do that?
  • Bob: Yes, Notion or are great for that. They like Wikiepdia but markdown-based and working offline.
  • 5yo: Cool. What else do you get?

โœ๐Ÿป Writings

  • Bob: Resources I have for writing my next articles. Ok I know what you are going to ask me. Yes I can put them elsewhere. Mostly the same problem and solution than with my programming notes.
  • 5yo: Cool. What else do you get?
  • Bob: That's pretty much it I think. If I moved all those URLs outside of my too-many-tabs I would much less than 101 for sure. And I would probably be less stressed
  • 5yo: And have time to play with me?
  • Bob: Exactly :)

๐Ÿพ A one thousand miles journey begins with a single step

  • 5yo: Do you think you can get started working on your too many tabs problem, like right now?
  • Bob: You mean saying goodbye to my beloved 101 tabs I curated with so much love?
  • 5yo: Yes. I know it's hard but sometimes you have to say thank you but good bye.
  • Bob: Right. Let me think.
  • 5yo: Ok
  • Bob: So as a first step I could just export my tabs and put them in a dumb markdown file in my favorite text editor.
  • 5yo: Ok. Is that hard?
  • Bob: The hardest part is to copy paste 101 URLs and titles one by one manually
  • 5yo: Oh I see. Is there a simpler way to do that?
  • Bob: I don't know. Somone on the internet must have had the same issue and found a solution. Let me google that out.
  • 5yo: OK
  • Bob: There you go! I have found the Copy as Markdown browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. With this I can copy/paste my URLs and page names in markdown format all at once.
  • 5yo: Congrats, you're smart uncle bob!
  • Bob: So the first done is actually done: my 101 URLs are stored safely in a markdown document.

๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป Saying Good Bye

  • 5yo: So you can close the 101 tabs right now?
  • Bob: I can yes. That feels very strange after all those years.
  • 5yo: Do you want to do it aynyway?
  • Bob: Yes. Just let me say goodbye and thank you for all the time we spent together.
  • 5yo: Yes, goodbye and thank you.
  • Bob: Done.
  • 5yo: Done?
  • Bob: Done. Wow, I never had so few tabs opened since years.
  • 5yo: Must be an interesting feeling.
  • Bob. Yes. And yet I can feel that the stress is partially gone already.
  • 5yo: That sounds good. Do you know what to do next?

๐Ÿ”œ What's Next?

  • Bob: Yes, reordering the 101 URLs in the categories we discussed before: Browser bar, TODO list, Reading List, Programming Resources, Writing Resources.
  • 5yo: Cool. Is that hard?
  • Bob: No no that's fine.
  • 5yo: And what's next?
  • Bob: Simply put that information where it really belongs: in the browser bar, in my reading list, in my todo list, in my personal knowledge base
  • 5yo: Cool. Is that hard?
  • Bob: No no don't worry, I will get it done.

๐ŸŽฎ Let's play ?

  • 5yo: So can I assume you will have time to play with me next week?
  • Bob: Yes you smart little boy. Thanks for your help.
  • 5yo: You're welcome, I really enjoy asking questions. I learned a lot from you today
  • Bob: I noticed that.


  • Bob: I have just one small request for the future
  • 5yo: Sure, what?
  • Bob: Please continue asking questions, I love them.
  • 5yo: Thanks.
  • Bob: But maybe not so much questions every day. That was intense!
  • 5yo: Sorry uncle Bob, that's the one thing I cannot stop doing. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ
  • Bob: ๐Ÿ˜…
  • 5yo: And actually I have questions for the readers of your article too. Can I?
  • Bob: Sure thing! Let the others work instead of me, I like it.
  • 5yo: OK:

Dear readers,
Do you have too many tabs opened right now? How many? What is this "problem" of symptom of? What kind of categories do they represent? Can you put them elsewhere?
If no why not? What's the hardest part?
If yes, can you get started today simplifying your life?

Top comments (25)

petermilovcik profile image

Brilliant! I really enjoy reading it!
Currently, I have 9 tabs open. I do use Obsidian and Notion for keeping My Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) or track reading list, learning resources, writing resources...

jackmellis profile image

Nice article, I know from 99% of people I work with this a very common problem. But for me I get antsy when I have more than 5 tabs open. I usually have max 2 tabs for work + 1 for music. And I refuse to move on to another tab until I've completed the current one. If only I was this organised in real life ๐Ÿ˜„

derlin profile image
Lucy Linder

This so (SO!) right... But I never got the discipline to keep up with this clean way of organisation. Worst, each time I started using an "elsewhere" tool, I spent hours learning it, only to find another, better alternative two months after...

So I basically admitted to myself I would be a tab junkie for the rest of my life and started using, which provides better tab management: vertical tabs, search, reading list, etc. Brave is also implementing vertical tabs in their nightly. Edge supports it as well. So for the weak people like me, try vertical tabs, it really alleviates part of the pain!

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Fayard

Glad you like it!

But I never got the discipline to keep up with this clean way of organisation.

I didn't have the discipline either so I started small.

My recommandation today would be to start with just the reading list.
It made a big positive impact in the way I consume the internet.

You can use which ever tool you like, but if you are prone to instead of benchmarking 42 possible tools, I highly recommend which is the one I use in the screenshot.

cloutierjo profile image
cloutierjo • Edited

So much truth in that article. I'm probably at ~400 tabs spread into 7 tab groups!
The thing that works best for me is to finish the week by closing tabs!

But mostly the more tabs I have opened, the more I struggle to find the tab I need right now.
And thus i just reopen the same thing again. I probably have our dev and production website open more than a dozen times each.
Every time I'm looking for a ticket or a wiki page, i just search it instead of finding where it was already open.

My other issue is that i browse using middle click keeping track of where I'm coming. Strangely enough browser has a great feature for that => history!

Bob. Yes. And yet I can feel that the stress is partially gone already.

I'm actually getting stressed out about that idea

Let me google that out.
Oops i now have 5 more tabs

Thanks for the article, i think I'll try to apply some of them quickly, my issue is getting worse lately.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Fayard

Good luck and try to those kind of changes one step at a time. It took me one month I think. Changing deeply engrained habits doesn't happen instantly by sheer will

kalqlate profile image
David Williams • Edited

Nice article! May I suggest:

Workona chrome (v8) plugin for tabs and real-time personal or team project and knowledge management and sharing plugin:

Image description

Workona Features

  • Integration with other productivity apps, like Miro, Notion, etc.
  • Full drag-n-drop rearrangement of everything
  • Full-text search (Universal Search - across Workona items, browser bookmarks, web)
  • Arbitrary in-line tagging with any symbol you like via Universal Search
  • Automatic and configurable suspension of unused open tabs (conserving CPU and memory)
  • Immediate edit updates across all of your devices
  • - - - App for iPhone
  • - - - Currently, only browser access on Android, with the only limitation being that links are opened only from Resources. More about this below.)
  • Share only those Workspaces and items you choose to with your team or others
  • Any team-shared folder edits update immediately to all opened team browser sessions

Workona Data Organization
(Multiples of all levels and items below, except where noted)

  • - Master Task Section (lists and manages all tasks across all workspaces)
  • - Templsates (for workspaces, docs, and teams)
  • - Teams
  • - Workspace Sections
  • - - - Workspaces (the four main sections below shown in two configurable panes)
  • - - - - - Tabs Section (just one per workspace)
  • - - - - - Note Sections
  • - - - - - - - Notes (rich-text, code formatting, images, attachments)
  • - - - - - Task Sections
  • - - - - - - - Tasks with due-dates, rich Note
  • - - - - - Resource Sections
  • - - - - - - - Resources (links, folders, documents, descriptions)
  • - Archive (just one for everything)

Effective Tab Management with Workona
The key to effective tab management in Workona that eventually discovered is to open and move tabs around to appropriate workspaces by concept however you desire. When you have finished reading or wish to reference a tab later, save it as a browser bookmark and/or save it as a resource in an appropriately named resource section in the current and optionally other workspaces. Once saved as a resource, the link is always there, so you can close the tab.

Keep a Clean Workspace
When your research session for the work period or day is done, and you've deposited important tabs as resources, you can close all tabs by clicking the Close All button in the Tabs Menu of the current workspace. You can reopen single resource tabs or reopen all tabs in a resource section by clicking Open All in the resource section menu.

Restore Workspace to Previous State
If you accidentally close tabs or they happen to disappear after a browser restart (only happened to me once), you can return any workspace to a previous state in the history of tab changes in that workspace by browsing the workspace's history via the Restore Tabs function in the workspace menu.

Saving to and Restoring from Archive
When you are finished with a workspace, you can either delete it or move it to the Archive. Workspaces that are archived can be restored at any time; naturally, deleted workspaces are unrecoverable.

Special Usage Notes for Workona on Android

Image description

On Android, you navigate your browser to the Workona website and log in. All of your workspaces and contents will show. However, if you attempt to click on the Tabs section of a workspace, Workona pops up a message instructing you to install the additional Workona Tabs Manager plugin. Just simply dismiss that message, because if you click the available "ADD TO CHROME" button, it will simply trigger the plugin to be added to your default DESKTOP chrome-based browser. Again, dismiss ("CANCEL") the message.

Other than not having access to a workspace's open tabs list, you can navigate and perform all other Workona functions, including creating any section or item, and opening tabs from the Resources section. That is one of the reasons why it's a good idea to save important tabs as resources - it's the only way to open your Workona tabs on Android. Conveniently, Workona opens resource links as group tabs, so all of your Workona-sourced tabs stay nicely associated. If you desire to save new tab research to Workona on Android, just copy and add the URL as a resource.

My preference, working with the Brave browser on desktop and Android, is to quickly save new research tabs to Brave's Reading List (sync'd across devices) by tapping "Add to reading list" in the browser menu. then later on desktop, open the research tabs from the reading list and deposit them in appropriate workspace resource sections.

My Workona Experience
In my research for my current project, conducted over the past six months using Workona, I effectively have hundreds to over a thousand pages nicely organized and annotated with notes, images, attachments, tasks, arbitrary tags, and other resources, easily searchable with full-text Universal Search, and easily shareable with and maintained by my team or anyone I wish to collaborate with.

My tablet and phone are Android-based, so the limitation mentioned above regarding the Android app not yet available, applies to my usage.

I use Workona as my "current project" focus tool. Though Workona is completely capable of replacing/supplanting browser bookmarks, I still save what I consider long-term or critical planning URLs as browser bookmarks. Just now, I chuckled, asking myself "Why?" Mmm... habit I guess, and maybe fear of losing a critical tab. Come to think of it... a glimpse of Workona's Settings panel, with the "Export Data" section visible:

Image description

Workona: Very efficient. Very effective. EXTREMELY helpful.

And, no, I have no affiliation with the company; just a happy, more organized user.

(Haha... I suppose I should go ahead and make this a post.)

ymailiasd profile image
Miguel Araujo

nice article

kbilleter profile image

Er... 780. I think I might need help :-)

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Fayard

For real you have 780 open tags?:O

kbilleter profile image

Spread through 48 titled windows with tab groups. Mostly performing the role of a bookmark stack / dequeue. I'll clean up over Christmas :-)

kalqlate profile image
David Williams • Edited

You DEFINITELY need Workona. ๐Ÿ˜€ I was JUST LIKE you before discovering Workona. Changed my life. See my comment on this article.

jbicknell14 profile image
Jack Bicknell

Did everyone forget about bookmarks and bookmark folders?

kalqlate profile image
David Williams

Haha... great question! As @jmfayard suggests, if you're not good at organizing your thoughts and resources hierarchically, bookmarks and bookmark folders will be of little help. I personally happen to be one of those who does organize thoughts and resources hierarchically very well. Still, I find it very helpful to supplement the bookmark paradigm with tags and other metadata. I've found a great tool for this is Workona (see my extended response here to this post suggesting Workona). It's great for organizing tabs into workspaces, which allow for adding notes, tasks, and other resources alongside said tabs. While Workona doesn't directly support tags, it has full-text search across your entire Workona knowledgebase, which allows you to use any or multiple tag designations of choice for adhoc inline tagging. I prefer the common #tag format, and occasion use !# for important references, then searching for #tag generally, or !#tag when I only want important references returned. I only press this again here because I find Workona so very useful and think others will as well.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Fayard

Not Bob

Bob: Mmh. Mostly I have tried bookmarks but they have their own set of problems. If you use multiple browser or computer or accounts you loose your bookmarks. And I never managed to organize bookmarks in a hierarchy that makes sense. I prefer tabs over bookmarks.

pharod profile image
Igor Romanov

Some of these never really worked out for me, I guess I just not organized enough to constantly copy over URLs to external apps. Most frequent issue is when I researching some topic and have many tabs open for it. Recent versions of Chrome has Tab groups, and Safari has it as well. It certainly helps keeping these โ€œbrowsing workspacesโ€ isolated. What also worked out really well for me as a replacement of reading list is Tab snooze Chrome extension. I really like snoozing tabs for later time. With reading list I tend to just never follow up and actually read.

milandry profile image
Michael Landry

The core problem is that we have to maintain a mental mapping of the thing we need (an interface, a website, a program, an application) to how to bring that thing up so we can use it(80% of these being websites, that either has to be remembered, or found in a sea of tabs, or looked up in yet another list of bookmarks, all the while having to content that there are still other interfaces running on the computer itself, with yet some of those buried underneath menu navigation sessions). I've managed to solve this problem using Keyboard Maestro whereby the only thing I need to remember is the name I've assigned to it, at which I just start typing its name until it unambiguously resolves, and I let Keyboard Maestro go fetch the interface for me. Its on my to blog list.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Fayard looks interesting.

But really it boils down to two solutions:

  • you try to be super smart and dance on the chaos that is your internet life with Keyboard Maestro, Vivaldo, Arc Browser,...
  • or you try to simplify said internet life

Here I'm exploring the second option.

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

This was such a fun read. ๐Ÿ˜

And I love how ya included the questions in the end. Feeling inspired to go clean up my tabs, haha! ๐Ÿงน

maximecheramy profile image
Maxime Chรฉramy

I used at some point an extension that automatically closes the tabs when I have more than X opened tabs by closing the last visited tab. Turns out, I didn't notice it because when I have too many tabs, I stop using them anyway...
I should reinstall this extension... It's here:

mohsin profile image
Saifur Rahman Mohsin

Switch to Safari and use "tab groups", issue solved. Like I have a tab group for every project OR task I work on so it's much more organized.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Fayard

Everyone is responding that his favorite tool solves the issue. If that's true why do people come up with new tabs tools all the time?

orliesaurus profile image

I am so confused ๐Ÿคฃ

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ Fayard


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