Dealing with Google Chrome’s Tab Overflow Issue

I haven’t run into this problem myself (I never have that many tabs open,) but I have a friend who runs into this situation all of the time. Here are a few solutions …

Google Chrome’s default behavior in regards to tabs is to squeeze all open tabs into the space available for the tabbar. This is unlike how other web browsers are handling this, as they are using scroll options and a minimum tab width to avoid tab overflow issues. If you open enough tabs in Google Chrome, you will notice that all works well until you reach a point where the favicons displayed in the tabs are removed, so that you end up with an unidentifiable mess.

Chrome reduces the width of tabs gradually at first, but it does not have a limit in regards to the minimum width of tabs, so that it will reduce the width of tabs further and up to a point where they just show up without any information at all.

Chrome’s Tab Overflow issue

chrome tab overflow

So what can you do about that? Chrome is not as customizable as Firefox for example, so there is no option to set a fixed minimum width for tabs to avoid this from happening.

1. Don’t open that many tabs

This solution may require that you change how you work in a web browser. If you used to open tabs for later reading or temporary safe keeping for instance, then you may want to consider changing that behavior, for instance by making heavy use of the browser’s bookmarking functionality or a browser extension that saves them for you temporarily.

2. Use browser extensions

quick tabs

Browser extensions may provide you with better controls over the open tabs in the browser. Quick Tabs for Google Chrome is just one of the extensions that you can use for that purpose.

It adds an icon to the address bar of the browser that you can click on to display the list of tabs and to use a search to quickly find a website that you are looking for.

It may not be ideal as you need to click on the icon first, and either scroll through the list of open tabs or start typing to find the websites you are looking for, but it is definitely better than clicking through all tab icons in Chrome instead.

3. Tab Stacks

tab stacks

Stacked Tabs is an experimental feature in Google Chrome that changes how tabs are handled in the browser. Instead of shrinking them at all, they are stacked to the left and right of the tabbar instead.

This is far from ideal though, as you end up with a — very — limited number of open tabs displayed at the same time in the browser. So, you end up with the same issue, that you cannot identify most of the tabs open in the browser because of that.

A combination of reducing the width of tabs and Tab Stacking might work however, but that has not been implemented by Google yet and it is unclear if the company will ever do so.

To enable tab stacks do the following:

  1. Type chrome://flags/ in the address bar and hit enter.
  2. Hit Ctrl-f and search for stacked tabs.
  3. Click on Enable underneath the feature.
  4. Restart the Chrome browser.

Closing Words

It is not clear why Google has implemented the tabbar in this way, as it is definitely limiting the accessibility of the browser if too many tabs are open in it.

How do you deal with tab overflow in Chrome?

Now Read: Improve Chrome’s tab management with TooManyTabs

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