Do you end up every day with a gazillion browser tabs open? Try Session Buddy.

Mary Dean

Browser tabs ribbon

Whether you're working, studying, keeping up with the news, or just entertaining yourself, you will inevitably end up with a large number of tabs open on your browser.

For many of us, browser tabs have replaced To Do lists.

We keep tabs open on Google, Amazon, Facebook, Youtube, Craigslist, our bank, and our local government -- to remind ourselves to find the words to that song, send a happy birthday message, buy coffee filters, watch last night's monologue, look for a better desk, pay a bill, apply for a building permit.

Sometimes our browser windows get so crowded that the tabs become triangular specks, and when we try to click on one, we accidentally close it.

POOF! (<== hover over me!) There goes that thing we really wanted to remember.

sessionbuddytiny

Then, at the end of the day, we review all the tabs we still have open and exclaim, "Oh, no, I forgot to buy a battery charger, and I still want to read this essay, and none of these sites have the right guitar chords for that song!"

We don't want to turn off our laptops -- literally -- because we don't want to lose our browser tabs.

So instead of shutting them down, we put them to "sleep" -- again, just to preserve our browser tabs. But what does that accomplish? The next day, instead starting fresh, we start out with all that clutter. That's no good.

"That's what bookmarks are for," you say, "to save the sites you want to come back to." Yes, maybe they work for some people. But, honestly, the last time I tried to use browser bookmarks was a decade ago. They just grow so quickly out of control, and most of mine were labeled "Things to look at," "Show to kids," or "Save this."

I'm sure there's good stuff in there

It's even worse when your browser gets "smart" and decides to sync your ancient bookmarks with your new phone, so you're suddenly confronted with a page of "Favorites" labeled "To read," "Xmas '08" and "Mexico trip."

"Well, what about the browser history? Isn't everything already saved there, if you really needed to go back and find something?"

We know that browsers keep good records, because that's how people are always getting busted by the cops and their spouses. But we rarely look at it. Try clicking and holding on your browser's "Back" button until a menu pops up, then choose "Full History"... yikes, the level of detail is kind of creepy.

The problem with using your browser history" to remember the past is that it's way too detailed. For example, lately I've been working on the design of this very blog, so my History looks like this.

Not-very-useful history

That's not very helpful.

So, what's the solution? How do we keep track of where we've been without having to create formal bookmarks for all fifty sites we visit every day? And how can we start fresh every morning without losing all the stuff we were interested in yesterday?

There are a lot of solutions out there, and I have tried several. TabCloud and OneTab come to mind. But the one that I am happiest with is a Chrome browser extension called "Session Buddy." Why? Because it's clean and simple, it's free, it doesn't make you look at ads, and it doesn't do anything unexpected. If you use Chrome as your primary browser, I highly recommend it.

Session Buddy to the rescue

Installing Session Buddy

Just go to their website, SessionBuddy.com and press the "Install" button.

That's it. Now look at the top right of your browser window, you should see a little blue folder icon. Click on that, and ta-da, your current collection of browser tabs has been saved.

You can now close your browser, turn off your computer, and go on with your life.

Click the folder to save your tabs

You have the option of naming your collections, or not. I usually don't, because I know they will be saved in chronological order, and that's good enough for me. But if most of my tabs are related to a particular topic, I might give it a name, to make it easier to come back to some day.

My web browsing history

Session Buddy saves your links in lists, which you can glance through without having to restore the actual windows. It also saves your most recent session in case the power goes out or your browser crashes. That's all I want. I don't want it to close tabs for me or take over my bookmarks or replicate itself to the cloud.

I like going back and reviewing the browser tabs I've had open in recent days, to see if there are any interesting little nuggets I had forgotten about.

Hey, there's one right there.

Oh! I was going to copy those

Aren't these just the coolest glass buttons, from CodePen? The pictures behind the buttons are something you can change on the fly. For example, I went over to UnSplash.com and found a photo of a red rose, and pasted in the URL, and POOF! -- the rose showed up inside the red button. So you could make buttons of your kids faces. They also have hover effects. I might use them for something.

CSS glass buttons made by Sextant Shepherd

I would not have remembered those glass buttons if Session Buddy hadn't hung onto them for me.

If I really want to hold onto a site permanently, what I do is paste the URL into Evernote and jot down as many descriptive words as I can can think of so it will turn up when I search for it years later, like "24-hour late night restaurants coffee shop insomnia all night wifi."

I hope you like Session Buddy, and, as always, consider throwing the developers a few bucks if you find it useful. And if you DON'T like it, just click the Chrome "menu" (3 tiny dots) at top right, choose More Tools > Extensions > Session Buddy > Trash Can, and it will go away (...poof).

Happy browsing!