Sometimes it’s all too easy to get lost in your web browser while trying to get work done.
Once you’ve buried yourself under dozens of browser tabs, you’re constantly having to pick through them all to find your way back to Gmail or Google Docs. Or instead of trying to track down the sites you’ve already got open, you just open them again in a new tab, creating even more clutter.
As they say in infomercials, there’s a better way. By making some changes to your web browser, you can more easily access the websites you use most and cut down on tab overload. Here are a few things to try:
Turn websites into web apps
Instead of loading your favorite websites as browser tabs, consider converting them into “apps” that mimic the behavior of desktop programs.
These web apps will launch in their own separate window, without the address bar, bookmarks, and other menu clutter you’d normally get in your browser. Best of all, you can launch them straight from the Windows taskbar or Start menu, or from the dock in macOS, so you don’t have to go fishing for them in a sea of browser tabs. I use this trick for Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Keep, Chrome Remote Desktop, Airtable, and the free Photoshop alternative Pixlr E, and it has fundamentally changed my workflow.
Here’s how to turn a website into an app in Chrome:
- Click the vertical “…” menu button while visiting the site you want to convert.
- Head to “More tools” and select “Create shortcut.”
- Make sure to check off “Open as window,” then select “OK.”
Creating web apps in Microsoft Edge is slightly easier:
- Click the “…” menu button on the site you want to convert.
- Select “Apps,” select “Install site as an app,” then click “Install.”
If you’re using Windows, the new app will appear in the Start menu under “Recently Added.” You can then drag it to your pinned apps section in the Start menu, or add it to the Windows taskbar by right-clicking the app while it’s open.
If you’re on a Mac, the new app will automatically show up in your dock. Drag it anywhere on the dock to keep it there permanently.
Add an app launcher with Sidekick
Sidekick is an alternative web browser that makes web apps easier to access. It offers a persistent left-hand sidebar—hence the name—where you can pin icons for Gmail, Slack, Google Docs, Trello, Mailchimp, Notion, and dozens of other popular web services. Essentially, it’s an app dock for your browser, letting you load your favorite sites without having to open them as browser tabs. (The browser itself is based on Chromium, the same open-source code that Google uses for Chrome, so it also supports all the same browser extensions.)
After installing Sidekick, you can add new apps by hitting the “+” icon in the sidebar. To make the sidebar smaller to fit more apps on the screen, click the gear icon, then adjust the “sidebar size” slider.
Sidekick also uses your browser history to provide shortcuts within each web app. Right-clicking the Google Docs icon, for instance, brings up a list of recent documents to launch. Right-clicking on Trello lets you jump into recent cards or boards. And for those websites you do open as browser tabs, Sidekick will remember them, so you can close the browser without losing your progress.
Sidekick is free to use, but an $8-per-month Pro subscription is required if you want to have multiple workspaces with their own app docks, such as one for personal apps and another for work.
Sort apps into workspaces with Workona
If switching to a new browser seems too extreme, you can still use a browser extension to keep your tabs under control. Workona is an extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge that organizes tabs into “workspaces” that you can view and search through from a single menu. It’s an alternative to splitting up your tabs into separate windows for different tasks.
Installing the extension adds a permanent Workona tab to the left side of your browser. From there you can view all of your workspaces, move tabs between them, and add separate bookmarks for each workspace. You handle all of this by dragging and dropping your tabs around.
Workona’s menu also has an app dock, where you can add popular web apps. Once an app is in the dock, you can click on it to bring up shortcuts, such as a list of recent documents in Google Drive or links to your boards in Trello. You can also access these shortcuts through Workona’s search bar.
Best of all, Workona is great at remembering what you’re doing. If you pin a tab in your web browser, it will make that tab available in all of its workspaces. That means you can pin sites such as Gmail or Slack and never lose track of them. The extension will also save any tabs you’ve opened after closing the browser and will sync them across devices so you can pick up where you left off from anywhere.
Workona is free to use, but you’re limited to 10 workspaces without a $6-per-month Pro subscription.
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