Users of the desktop version of Chrome should soon be able to take advantage of a handy feature that's been available to iOS users for years already. Currently undergoing testing preview Canary builds of the browser, the "Read Later" feature will make it possible to save article or tabs for easy access later.
The feature is very similar to options already found in Microsoft Edge and Firefox, and it will help to eliminate the need to keep dozens, score or even hundreds of tabs open so you can – maybe – refer back to something that caught your eye.
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References to tab saving were spotted on the Chromium Gerrit where there is a commit labelled "Add flag for Read Later feature". Take a look at the optional flags in the Canary build of Chrome 86 by visiting chrome://flags, and there is one called Read Later.
The description of the flag explains that the option will "allow users to save tabs for later. Enables and new button and menu for accessing tabs saved for later". Here Google also makes it clear that the feature will be coming to all desktop platforms – meaning macOS, Windows, Linux and Chrome OS (which powers the best Chromebooks).
Save for a rainy day
Although the flag can be seen in Chrome Canary, it doesn't seem to be working yet – even when enabled neither the button nor menu Google refers to are visible at this time. Clearly this is a feature that is still in the early stages of development, and Google's developers believe it's not ready enough even for those living on the bleeding edge of Canary.
It's hard to say when we'll get to play with Read Later, but it's something that will be welcomed by anyone who finds themselves drowning under tabs, or losing sites in a sea of bookmarks. As well as giving you a way to earmark something to refer back to later so you don't get distracted from your current task, it will also be a great way to organise research tabs – and it can't come soon enough.
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Sofia is a tech journalist who's been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 20 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, her life moved online and remains fueled by technology, music and nature.
Having written for websites and magazines since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, she continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, she loves sharing new discoveries with others.
Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but her particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy. Her other loves include walking, music, her two Malamutes and, of course, her wife and daughter.