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Google cans saving tab groups in the Chrome side panel

Last month, I detailed the upcoming side panel in the Chrome browser and in Chrome OS. This panel appears alongside any browser tab, showing your bookmarks and reading list. Google planned to add a space for notes and saved tab groups but right now, only one of those features will progress. Google has decided not to add the saving of tab groups in the Chrome side panel. At least for now.

I found this out when looking through the latest code changes for Chrome and Chrome OS. Google has marked this feature as a “won’t fix”, saying: “this project has been postponed”. To be honest, I’m OK with the postponement and would even be OK if this feature never arrives.

I see the side panel as already getting cluttered. In fact, I’ve seen screenshots of the side panel displaying several different data types and with such limited space, it’s clunky to switch between them.

Google Chrome OS side panel current

What started out as a simple, quick view for specific information has turned into choosing a drop-down menu to get at the information you want. And the more items that get added to the side panel, the longer that menu becomes.

I’ll admit that I don’t typically save tab groups in the Chrome browser. So perhaps I’m not the target audience for this feature. Even if I were, I have a similar function to do the same thing in Chrome and on Chrome OS. I save specific tabs to virtual desks.

Instead of saving tab groups in the side bar or somewhere else, I created custom virtual desks on my Chromebook and saved them as templates.

Saved tab groups or virtual desk template in Chrome

When I want to open a virtual desk with my typical work tabs, for example, I open the virtual desk I call “work”. I’ve essentially already saved all of my tabs in a group for work, so why would I need them taking up space in the Chrome side panel?

Note that you can still save tab groups in Chrome or Chrome OS. The work being postponed is allowing you to save them to the side panel. So there’s no loss of functionality if you still want to use tab groups.

Let me know if you use saved tab groups and if you’d like to see them available in the Chrome browser side panel. I’m fine if they stay right where they are.

author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

4 thoughts on “Google cans saving tab groups in the Chrome side panel

  1. To me, Google should stop messing with these features that matter to a tiny minority.

    Concentrate on speed and simplicity (+ security obviously).

    Make as much stuff PWA as possible, concentrate on apps 80% of people rely on, stop changing app names etc.

    Make Playstore, Steam games, Linux apps, Windows emulation work in a very user friendly way on Chromebooks for those that need those things, not in a waste my weekend in a command line way. But make these optional aspects and make those people pay extra for a Chrome OS version that panders to the awkward squad that they are.

    Most people who have tons of tabs open or want all this tab grouping / desktop stuff need to stop thinking technology is the answer. Most of these people need to realise they aren’t working efficiently, it’s a people problem.

    Integrate all that with mobiles phones regardless of Appls / Andoid phone.

    People who want tab groubs are a minority and most of those people really need to look at how they work rather than think technology is the answer.

    It’s time a lot this technology matured rather than keep changing for the sake of it, same goes for a lot of people.

  2. I do use Tab Groups and the ‘Save group’ feature.
    I wish you could save them as bookmarks or at least revive them once you close a group, I have trouble with that particular aspect.

    I’ve dabbled with Desk Templates but I’m not sure I really know how to use them properly and your Desks and Desk Templates don’t ‘sync’ with your profile (yet) so it’s kind of a kludge ATM IMO.

  3. What a ridiculous ‘feature’, which Google has deployed in a half-baked manner. Yesterday, I decided to look into saving tab groups so I don’t have to keep dozens of tabs open (in multiple chrome windows). I do a ton of research for my job, and love the grouping feature. I hadn’t had issues with the groupings, which always returned on reboot or restart of Chrome.
    In the interesting of freeing resources, yesterday I saved all of my groups and closed the separate Chrome sessions. The groups showed happily at in the Bookmarks bar, and all was well.
    Sadly, when I had to reboot this morning to apply a patch to my laptop, I discovered that the groups aren’t really saved at all. It’s a lie. A placebo. Now those months of work are gone forever, and I just wasted an hour trying to figure out how to bring the saved groups back.

    Google, get it together. Do not provide a feature that causes massive disruption. How hard would it be to save them for real? Not hard. At all.

    And the comment that most users don’t use these features is silly. Many people – certain more than 20% – use this grouping feature and would welcome the save being fully baked. I’m so pissed right now, having lost work and wasted so much time. Disgusting, unprofessional and idiotic. Well done.

  4. Tab groups are a godsend. I often have 50 or more tabs open at any given time, mostly for work, and not having to go through various levels of bookmarks in order to find sites you use regularly – rather, they are just open already and categorized for you in tab groups, is such a great feature IMO. The only downside I’ve found so far, other than losing them all at one point like CF points out in the comment above (still not sure how I lost them, they usually come back after reboots / closing chrome by reopening tabs using shift+CMD+T on my Mac), is that if you have a lot of them, they take up a decent amount of room horizontally, especially if you name them lengthy names. This causes me to need more Chrome windows than necessary as eventually the window gets full.

    Today, I was talking to a co-worker about them and he showed me how Safari supports tab groups, and lo and behold – Safari lets you put the tag groups on the side panel! GAME CHANGER. Putting them in the side panel saves soooo much room horizontally, and even if you happen to fill up the entire side with collapsible / expandable tab groups, you can just scroll up and down that list with your mouse wheel.

    Searching for whether or not you can enable this in Chrome is what led me to this page. I’m seriously thinking of moving to Safari in order to take advantage of this feature. I wish Google would have already added this.,

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