The Great Suspender extension icon in Chrome

Let’s look at why our Tab-itis is slowing us down, and review how a free Chrome plugin- The Great Suspender – can help!

I keep a lot of browser tabs open when I’m doing work, either because I am going back and forth between web applications, looking up research materials, or I just keep a tab open to remind me to go back and look later.

Lots of tabs make your computer run slower. Each tab uses computer memory, it uses the memory to render and remember all the stuff on the page. The more stuff going on, on a page, the more memory it needs.

Let’s say the average memory your open tabs require is 100MB each- if you have 20 tabs open that’s 2GB of memory. In the below screenshot my tabs are using up 2.75GB

Chrome Task Manager showing memory used by tabs
The Chrome Task Manager shows all the chrome tabs I currently have open. It labels my Google Docs tabs as App.

Some days I have 3 different Chrome windows open (work, personal, testing) and each of those can have a dozen tabs open. But I’m not looking at them all at the same time. It seems a shame to be using up all that memory for things I might not look at for hours or even days!

Some of the tabs that are actually to-dos get added to my task list, so I can stop being distracted by them. For the rest there’s The Great Suspender.

The Great Suspender is a chrome extension that reduces the amount of memory being used by idle tabs by putting them to sleep.

We can see this in action by walking through a test on the Trello tab. In the Chrome task manager we can see its using 56MB of memory.

Trello details in Chrome Task Manager

Since I have the great suspender extension installed in chrome, I click on the icon…

Trello tab in Chrome browser with Great Suspender extension icon highlighted.

And voila! The tab is now suspended.

Chrome tab suspended.

When I look back at the task manager I see Trello change from a tab to an extension it’s being lumped under the great suspender extension now and the amount of memory used disappears.

Trello suspended state in Chrome Task Manager

Once I’ve suspended all my idle tabs I peek back at the Task Manager to see that all those sleepy tabs are no longer using up memory.

Chrome Task Manager showing tabs that have been snoozed
Task Manager showing tabs that have been snoozed no longer using memory.

Easy Setup

You can download the extension from the Chrome store. Click the Add to Chrome button, then give it permission to see your browsing information and it will quickly install.

Cute installation confirmation message 😉

The settings are straightforward.
Anything I haven’t touched in an hour gets suspended except for a few exceptions I’ve specified. I always keep my mail and calendar pinned so I  selected Do not suspend pinned tabs

Very simple settings for Great Suspender extension.
Very simple settings

Once you start using the extension you should see performance improvements right away.

For tips on checking your Chrome memory usage, check out this Make Use of Post.