Tabbed browsing is both a blessing and curse, and most of us will be familiar with the problem of having far, far too many open at once. In recent versions of Chrome, Google has been gradually introducing features that make it easier to manage a large number of open tabs, including tab grouping and tab scrolling.
Now the company is testing another feature which makes it easy to home in on a specific tab without having to manually trawl through a busy, overflowing tab bar. It eliminates the need to install an extension to benefit from the ability search open tabs.
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At the moment, tab searching is only available in Chrome Canary for Windows, although it is not enabled by default (we have details about how to enable it below). When you have the feature up and running, you'll notice a new button to the right of the tab bar, next to the + button used to open a new tab.
Clicking this new button displays a search menu, and as you type, matching tabs are listed in the results in much the same way as Chrome's omnibar suggests sites as you type in it. If you prefer to keep your hands on the keyboard rather than using a mouse or trackpad, you can also access tab search using the [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[A] keyboard shortcut.
Keep tabs on it
As we mentioned, the new tab search feature is currently only available in the Canary build of Chrome. You can download this experimental – and potentially unstable – version of the browser here, and install it alongside the main build for testing purposes. Once you have done so, you can use the following steps to enable the feature.
- Right click on the Chrome desktop shortcut and select Properties
- Click in the Target field and type a space followed by -enable-features=TabSearch
- Click Apply and then click Continue if you're asked to provide admin access
- Click OK and then use the newly modified shortcut to launch Chrome and try out tab searching
- Check out our guide to the best browsers of 2020
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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.