Google Chrome for desktop platforms now lets users create group tabs for better organization. Announced by the official Chrome handle on Twitter, the new feature does precisely what its name, tab groups, implies. Namely, it lets users set up groups of tabs for better organization of the tabs in Google Chrome on desktop variants of the browser.
That's easy to accomplish too. Google indicates that all that's needed is a right-click on the desired tab. A new option will appear to add the tab to a new group. That, in turn, creates a gray-dot on a new tab to the left of the selected tab. A click on that tab will bring up options for customizing the tab group.
From there, a simple right-click on any other tab can be instantiated to add the tab to the created group. Conversely, users can create another group and add the tab there instead.
Google's stated purpose for these group tabs in Chrome is fairly straightforward. It gives users, regardless of their individual use cases, a way to organize tabs together for quick finding later on. For instance, the company notes that a set of tabs could be created for work. Those might be labeled "ASAP," "this week," and "later." And tabs could then be organized accordingly.
On the other hand, tabs might be set up to organize work-flow in terms of projects. For instance, projects may be designated as those that are in progress or that haven't been started just yet, among other possible labels. Or a user might organize tabs so that work and personal life are more readily separated at a glance.
Of course, tabs and group tabs alike save when users close and reopen Chrome. So users can keep that organization structure going across multiple sessions.
Group tabs in Chrome come complete with color coding and custom labels
Now, this feature has been a long time coming for Chrome on desktop platforms. It was spotted back in early 2019, to begin with. But it's also undergone some serious changes from the expectations set at its first appearance.
For starters, users are able to color-code tab groups when creating them via the method highlighted above. That color selection creates an accent line that runs below any tabs added to the group. The tab group title tab is colored in completely by the chosen hue.
The groups can also be given custom labels at the same time.
One key aspect that does appear to be missing, spotted in Android variations on tab grouping, is space savings. While this feature will undoubtedly serve to better organize things, it won't necessarily make it easier to read open tabs. That's because instead of collapsing tabs under a group, those remain open — as shown in the images below. The UI simply adds an additional label tab and color coordination.
It's not immediately clear how or if Google will address the discrepancy. On Android, the tabs can be squeezed under a single thumbnail tab with a label. So there's significantly less space taken up by any individual tabs. So it would make sense for Google to go that route here or to find some other way to minimalize the space taken up by tabs in a given group.
When will this land for stable platforms?
The primary drawback to this new feature, of course, is that it's not yet widely available. For now, it's only available on beta variants of Chrome. That means, for a start, that day-to-day Chromebook users won't likely want to use the feature until it arrives on the Stable Channel.
For users on other desktop platforms, it's a more straightforward download of the Chrome Beta software. But that also comes with the possibility of bugs so holding off there may be a good idea too.
However, the feature does appear to be mostly complete and its appearance in beta is good news. More pertinently, Google says it plans to start the rollout slowly starting on May 19 with Chrome 83. It won't likely land for every Chrome user at that time but it should finalize fairly quickly if there are no major bugs to be found.
That rollout applies to Windows, Mac, Linux, and to Chrome OS on Chromebooks. Android's tab grouping will work somewhat differently and should arrive later on based on previous reports.