Tame your web browser tabs with the Toby extension
WE ALL DO IT: We open one web browser tab, then another, then a whole bunch more. Before we know it, our computer is wheezing under the strain of so many open browser tabs, we can’t find the website we were looking at 10 seconds ago, and the tab bar has become totally incomprehensible. And if the browser crashes….
Thank goodness for Toby. Toby is a browser extension for Chrome, Opera, or Firefox that you can use to tame your browser tabs in two ways. First, you can use it to organize groups of tabs into “collections,” which you can then open with a single click later. For example, you might have a collection for news sites, or for entertainment, or for work stuff. And second, you can use the Toby extension to save all the currently open tabs, so you can access them again later. As you’ll discover, Toby is very useful, but it isn’t hard to set up or use.
1 INSTALL THE EXTENSION Toby doesn’t work on Microsoft Edge, but it is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. The first thing to do is create an account at http://gettoby.com. This enables you to sync your bookmarks with Toby’s servers in case of a browser crash (and between different devices, if you have more than one computer— which is a useful thing to have on its own). Invite friends to use Toby and you’ll unlock a dark theme, too, although this obviously isn’t essential to getting started, and actually seems like an odd thing to include when you’re using something new for the first time. Click “Add Extension” to install it [ Image A]. 2 OPEN SOME SITES The easiest way to get started with Toby is to open a selection of websites, each one in its own tab. If you click the “New Tab” button to the right of the rightmost tab, you should see this screen [ Image B]. Your browser may complain about the fact that an extension is changing what you’re seeing when you open a new tab for browsing, but that’s fine here, because it’s you that’s changing how you use your browser. Toby isn’t usually shocking pink, by the way; this color scheme is just used at the beginning to help you get started, by highlighting the key parts of the interface. As the prompt suggests, click the “+” icon to start your first collection. 3 CHOOSE A GOOD NAME You can store multiple collections of sites, so it’s a good idea to give any collection a meaningful and distinct name, so that it’s clear what sites it contains. Try to be specific, too, as your sections will grow as you use it, and generic titles such as “News” can be too all-encompassing. Here we’re going to go for “Amazing tech news,” because we’re going to collect a selection of technology websites. You should see another prompt, this time to drag “How to use Toby” to your new collection [ Image C]. Drag it just under your collection’s title, and the pink hue should disappear. 4 START YOUR COLLECTION You should now see the “How to use Toby” tab underneath your collection’s title [ Image D]. If you look to the right of the browser window, you’ll see rectangles for all your other open browser tabs. To add them to the current collection, simply select and drag them one at a time into your “Amazing tech news” section, just to the right of the “How to use Toby” entry. Each one should appear in the collection with a preview of its content. You can change the order of the sites by dragging them around.
5 FINISH YOUR COLLECTION As you drag a site from the right of the screen, it disappears from the list of open tabs, and if you look at the tab bar at the top of the browser window, you’ll see those tabs have closed, too. That’s entirely deliberate: Toby’s goal is to close tabs until you actually need them. It can be a little hard to see, but there’s an “Open Tabs” link at the right of your collection [ Image E]. Clicking this button opens all the tabs from that collection. Pressing it again opens all the tabs a second time—although this has no useful benefit, it does highlight how Toby works. You can close those tabs using the list on the right, or by simply closing the tabs as normal. 6 MAKE SOME MORE You can have different collections for all kinds of things and group them by subject—as we’ve done here [ Image F]— or on a per-job or per-task basis. So, for example, if you were researching a project, you might create a collection for all your research documents. You can edit the collection’s title or delete it altogether by clicking the icon with three vertical dots at the right of the collection. This can be useful as the nuances of your collections appear—as you drill down into particular subjects, say, but want to keep the original grouping. 7 USE YOUR COLLECTION Once you’ve created one or more collections, you’ll see them listed whenever you open a new browser tab. You can then click the “Open Tabs” link to open the contents of that collection [ Image G], or you can click the “Share” link to send the tabs to somebody else. The little arrows next to the “Share” link enable you to re-order your collections on the “New Tab” screen by moving them up or down. 8 SAVE YOUR SESSION Toby has another excellent trick up its sleeve: It adds a little icon to the far-right of Chrome’s address bar that enables you to open Toby or save the tabs in your current session [ Image H]. That latter option saves all your open browser tabs, so you can return and relaunch them later. There’s also a handy search field that you can use to find something specific in your saved collections.