If the recent Marie Kondo craze has taught us anything, it’s that we’re happier surrounded by only the things that spark joy. When it comes to our digital lives, the advice is the same. Of course, this can be harder for us to do—especially if you, like most people, currently have upwards of 20 tabs open and fear closing a single one of them.
As digital hoarders, we’re likely to wonder, “Is it bad to have too many tabs open at once?” Weighing the productivity benefits against the processing costs, how do you know when it’s time to rein in your tab habits? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and disadvantages of having too many open tabs.
The Case for Using Fewer Tabs
There’s no escaping one simple fact: no matter what browser or device you’re using, there will come a point where too many open tabs will start affecting your user experience. That may be with 20 open tabs, or it may be with 200!
Open tabs can tax your computer memory, overheat your computer, and even affect the lifespan of your battery. This, of course, tends to be more of a problem on RAM-hogging browsers like Chrome, as well as on devices that have less RAM to begin with.
In addition to the physical effects on your computer, it’s worth questioning whether or not having more open tabs actually makes you more productive.
An abundance of tabs tempts us to multitask, an activity that makes us feel like we’re getting more accomplished in a short period. However, studies show time and time again that humans are not designed to multitask, as it can encourage more distraction and even limit our ability to process information. Worse, tab hoarders often waste valuable work time sifting through their cluttered and disorganized tabs.
The Case for Having Many Tabs Open at Once
For some people, having a hundred tabs open is a sign of great productivity—even if it makes it hard to juggle them all. Anyone researching dense topics or working on several projects at once knows that it’s impossible to do so with just a handful of tabs, which is why it may be important to keep more tabs than you close.
Furthermore, today’s devices tend to have more RAM than ever, meaning that tab hoarding is less of a digital sin than it used to be. Even better, with most browsers attempting to dial back their RAM usage, your abundant tabs are less likely to crash your machine—provided it has the right system resources. If you notice that your older system is struggling, you can always upgrade your RAM as needed.
So, Is It Bad to Have Too Many Tabs Open?
As you can probably guess, the answer to this question is “it depends.”
Having too many tabs on an older mobile phone might be more problematic than having them on a new desktop computer. Even more important is your approach to organizing them, which can mean the difference between ease of use and a cluttered mess that requires constant searching.
As we’ll discuss below, there are a few things you can do to make tab management a little easier—though it also wouldn’t hurt to get used to closing unnecessary tabs when you can.
How Can I Manage My Tabs Better?
First things first: identify the reasons why you often keep so many tabs open at once.
For many tab hoarders, the fear of losing the information on a closed tab at a later date encourages them to keep as many tabs open as possible. Others keep tabs open as visual reminders of tasks that need completion, and others have multiple ongoing projects at once and thus need dozens of tabs open.
By identifying the reason you leave tabs open, you might find it easier to find the right supportive tools to manage them—or even close them completely! Here are a few tools and tricks worth considering.
Revamp Your Bookmarks
For users who keep tabs open as a way to avoid losing information, it may be time to start adding your open tabs to your bookmarks. Bookmarks are a better way to save information you’ll want to come back to without using up valuable system RAM.
Try Tab Manager Software
If you prefer having an abundance of tabs for your ongoing projects, a tab manager can help.
These extensions allow you to tame your tabs in a number of ways. Setapp’s Tab Finder, for example, lets you manage open tabs by showing them in one spot for easy visibility. Other extensions and even browser tools allow you to organize tabs into separate “workspaces” for use on different projects. Do some sleuthing to find the right app for your needs.
Use a To-Do List App
If you keep tabs open to remind yourself of ongoing tasks, try using a to-do list app with a browser extension. Many of these apps offer the ability to save links as a new item on your to-do list, freeing up your browser while saving the item for later.
Suspend Your Tabs
If all else fails, tab suspender apps allow you to “suspend,” or inactivate, your browser tabs as needed. This can lessen the load on your system. When you’re ready to check the tab again, all you’ll need to do is “unsuspend” the tab again.
Manage Your Tabs With Care
Now that you’ve stopped wondering, “Is it bad to have too many tabs open?” it’s time to manage your tabs with care! At the end of the day, too many tabs can hurt your computer’s performance and even your productivity at a certain point, but being thoughtful about your tab usage can lessen that risk. Whether you upgrade your RAM or try a new tab manager, there are plenty of options for any work style.
Need more tech tips and productivity guides to keep you going? Be sure to take a look at our other content for additional advice.