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Tab overload is a persistent scourge of the modern workday, draining workers’ time, mental energy (not to mention their computer functioning). In a study of Fortune 500 teams published in Harvard Business Review, the average worker switched between web browser tabs and applications around 1,200 times per day, with the two-second buffer to refocus between each switch adding up to nearly four hours per week. Research out of Carnegie Mellon, meanwhile, highlighted one all-too-relatable barrier for those looking to declutter their browsers: the “black-hole effect,” or the fear that if someone closes a tab, even one with valuable information, they won’t remember to return to the site later on.
In recent years, a raft of tools have emerged to help workers streamline their internet-browsing experience by eliminating those digital black holes, providing a space to capture and organize tabs. We evaluated nine of these tools—Workona, Tabs Outliner, Partizion, Tab Keeper, Tab Manager Plus, OneTab, Tabli, Tab Brew, and Skeema—for organization, features, ease of use, visual appeal, and price. Our top pick is Skeema, developed by the authors of the aforementioned Carnegie Mellon paper to address points of friction they identified in their research, followed by Workona. Both are comprehensive tab-management systems and helpful productivity aids; while Skeema was our clear winner, the differences between the two in many cases are small enough to come down to personal preference, and either is an excellent option.
Both of our picks are free for users, and Workona also has a paid upgrade option. (See the Pricing Deep Dive section below for more on the differences between the tiers.) Both are also compatible with Google Chrome, while Workona also works on Firefox.
- Highly action-oriented interface turns a mess of tabs into a streamlined to-do list.
- Clipping tool allows users to save small chunks of a page without saving the whole tab.
- Clean, soothing design.
- The process for closing tabs from a master list is slightly more involved than with our other top pick.
- Quick one-click feature for closing tabs from a master list.
- Easy shareability allows users to send entire tab lists via email or Slack.
- Ability to group workspaces into sections for an additional layer of organization.
- Collaborative workspaces only available for paid plans.
- The interface, while easy to navigate, is less visually appealing than our other pick’s.
We installed and ran each application over the course of normal work, toggling between tabs for multiple projects and tasks. Throughout our testing, we used the tools a few different ways:
- As a “read later” parking lot for open tabs that weren’t immediately relevant to the task at hand, but that we knew would be useful in the future.
- As a shortcut for opening all the websites needed to complete a given task. For example, we created a tab group for all the sites needed to produce our newsletters, including our content-management system, email service provider, and Google doc containing the content.
- As a reset. When a browser window became too jam-packed and unwieldy to navigate effectively, we took it as a cue to pause, filter out tabs no longer needed, and save and organize the rest. (On a personal note, I’m a chronic over-tabber, with a thus-far-unshakeable habit of opening page after page until my browser freezes up; this use case was an especially welcome one.)
Here's how our picks stacked up on key features:
Organization: Both our top picks are built on actionable, easy-to-navigate organizational systems. Skeema in particular excels here. The academics behind it built their app to address the most common tab-overload scenarios identified in their research: people using tabs as reminders to complete unfinished tasks, as read-it-later reminders, and as bookmarks for frequently used websites. To account for all three of these uses, Skeema’s dashboard resembles a to-do list, sorting tabs into “projects”; within each project space, users can create sub-tasks underneath tabs or designate some tabs as sub-tasks of others. The app’s menu of options for each tab further helps tame an unruly browser into a streamlined action plan: As with a to-do list, tabs can be checked off, and users can additionally categorize tabs as “reference” or “to read,” and low, normal, medium, or high priority.
Workona’s taxonomy is similarly clear, though slightly less action-oriented. Tabs are grouped together into “spaces,” which can designate specific projects, activities, or contexts (a user could, for example, create one space for all the sites being used in drafting a research report, one for managing social-media accounts, and another for potential venues for a team offsite). Spaces themselves can also be grouped together to organize multi-pronged projects or keep different contexts separate (for example, one section for work-related spaces and one for spaces for personal browsing). Within each space, users can see the list of both open tabs and saved tabs, or “resources,” and sub-pages for notes and task lists.
Features and ease of use: Both our picks helpfully front-load the work of sorting tabs into the right places with “save” buttons that allow for single-step organization. On Skeema, users can save tabs directly to existing project lists or create new projects to save into, and categorize and prioritize in the process. On Workona, users can add a tab directly into a workspace, with the option to save it as a resource. Both also share a key feature that makes it simple to navigate between tabs with minimal friction: Clicking between projects (Skeema) or workspaces (Workona) changes the tabs open in your browser window, eliminating the need to have more than one window open at a time.
While both Skeema and Workona offer fairly seamless experiences, Skeema has a slight upper hand. A searchable sidebar lists all open tabs across all windows, including those not yet captured in a project, with options to close out a tab or click over to it. The feature that most enhanced our experience, though, was Skeema’s clipping tool, which allows users to take screenshots of open websites and save the snippets in project lists—handy for when a webpage contains only a small chunk of relevant information you care about, like a single paragraph or chart. (If a user later realizes they need more context, the snippet also links back to the original source.)
Workona’s search function helpfully surfaces tabs across all workspaces, though it doesn’t provide an all-in-one-place view the way Skeema does. And while Workona’s paid tier for teams allows for collaborative workspaces shared across multiple users, Skeema offers a similar version for free. Still, Workona offered a strong user experience that was markedly better than the rest of the tools we tested, with little learning curve and an interface that makes intuitive sense. Its feature for closing tabs is slightly easier than Skeema’s, with just one click rather than a select-and-delete function. Its biggest edge over the other tools we tested is in easy tab sharing: Workona allows users to share a tab via email or Slack with a single click, and the “copy all links” and “send all links” functions for a list of open tabs allow users to share multiple websites at a time. For time-pressed workers looking to cut down on the amount of time they spend wrangling their browsers each day, it’s a shortcut that can make a difference.
Visual appeal: Amid the visual clutter that is a sea of tabs, navigating through Skeema feels like a break for the eyes. Opening it takes users to a spare-looking homepage, with a customizable toolbar of key tabs set against stock nature imagery, the main menu collapsible on one side, and the search dashboard collapsible on the other. Clicking into each project yields a white page punctuated by small pops of blue, for an effect that’s visually clean without being dreary. Workona has a similarly simple approach, though its interface is ever so slightly less clean-looking than Skeema’s; a “split view” option also gives users the choice between seeing tabs and associated tasks side by side or in separate windows. To keep clutter at bay, both tools have an archive function for no-longer-necessary groups of tabs.
A note on privacy and security: Skeema and Workona both use Google’s Firebase to encrypt the user data they store. Workona is GDPR and SOC2 compliant.
Also consider: For those looking for a less involved tab-management tool, the Google Chrome browser extension Tabli is a lighter-touch, free way to keep track of browsing sessions without getting too into the weeds. Its interface is about as no-frills as it gets (though not ugly): Tabli lives as a drop-down menu accessed via the icon at the top of the browser window, listing all the tabs within each open browser window; clicking on a tab from the list takes users directly to it. Users can also save all the tabs within a window to capture a browsing session before closing it out. While Tabli isn’t built to be a productivity turbo-charger the way our top picks are, it’s a simple shortcut for helping over-tabbers easily navigate the chaos.
Pricing deep dive
Skeema is free.
Workona offers four plans: Free, Pro, Teams, and Enterprise.
- The Free plan comes with five workspaces. For most people who use Workona primarily as a personal tab manager, this option should be sufficient.
- The Pro plan is $9/month if billed monthly or $7/month if billed annually and comes with unlimited workspaces for individuals, as well as templates for organizing workspaces, and is worth considering for power internet users who need more than five different buckets to organize their browser windows.
- The Teams plan is for groups of three or more and costs $10/user/month if billed monthly or $8/user/month if billed annually. It includes team workspaces for collaborative tab management, team templates, and priority support.You have to request pricing for the Enterprise plan, which includes unlimited users and enhanced security features, including the ability to connect to a single sign-on provider.
How we chose what to review
We sourced our pool of testing candidates from productivity-focused blogs, websites, and forums such as Reddit, focusing on browser extensions that were compatible with Google Chrome at minimum. While some apps are geared toward helping users eliminate open tabs—such as Tab Snooze, which allows users to “snooze” tabs to reappear at a later time of their choosing, and Prune, which sets tab limits and stops users from opening duplicates—we narrowed in on tools that took a more comprehensive approach to tab management, allowing for saving, organization, and navigation help.
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