How to Enable Vertical Tabs in Google Chrome

Update: Vertical tabs have now been removed by the Chrome development team. Read more: A fond farewell to vertical tabs in Google Chrome

I’ve been using Google’s Chrome web browser exclusively for a few months now, but one of the things I miss most about Firefox is the ability to view my tabs vertically rather than across the top of my browser.  I’m a pretty aggressive tab user, and it isn’t uncommon for me to get inundated with 15-20 tabs – these aren’t easy to manage, especially on a small screen.

Unfortunately, I’m not here to tell you that the full, hierarchical functionality of Firefox’s Tree Style Tabs is available for Chrome.  However, there is a very easy way to enable a simple version of vertical tabs in recent versions of Google’s browser without installing any extra software.

I’m not exactly sure when this feature was included in Chrome, so I’d recommend updating to the newest version of Chrome before following this guide.  You will also need to disable any custom browser themes – failing to do so will cause some major rendering problems in Chrome.

Enabling vertical tabs is much easier in new versions of Google Chrome. To get started, open Chrome and type about:flags in the URL bar and press enter. This will take you to Chrome’s hidden experimental settings page.

Click Enable under Side Tabs.

Click the Restart Now button at the bottom of the page.

To activate side tabs, right click on a tab in Chrome and select Use Side Tabs. That’s it!

Original Method

To enable vertical tabs, right click any shortcut to Chrome and select Properties.  You can usually find a shortcut to Chrome in the Start Menu and potentially on your desktop.

Locate the Target field and add –enable-vertical-tabs to the end of the string as shown below.  Note the two dashes at the beginning and include a space between chrome.exe and the new code.


C:\Users\ewondrasek\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe --enable-vertical-tabs

Click Ok to save the changes, close any instances of Chrome you currently have open, then re-open Chrome.  You will now have vertical tabs!

Vertical tabs in Chrome are still experimental, so don’t be surprised to encounter graphical glitches.  For example, when vertical tabs are enabled, Chrome no longer seems to be aware of the Windows task bar when maximized and just covers it up.  You should also keep in mind that since this feature isn’t official, it could easily disappear in newer versions of Chrome.

Even though it’s a bit buggy, I’m excited that we’re one step closer to having legitimate vertical tab support in Chrome.  I’m hopeful that we’ll soon see a full version of this feature with support for tree hierarchies.

If you want a less-hacky (but not as well integrated) version of vertical tabs, check out the VerticalTabs extension for Chrome.

Image credit: Matt Biddulph

How To: Quickly Open Accidentally Closed Tabs in Firefox

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Firefox only:  Tabbed browsing in Firefox is incredibly useful and can improve your entire browsing experience; recovering an accidentally closed tab, however, isn’t particularly intuitive.

Firefox does keep a record of your recently closed tabs (which are available under History –> Recently Closed Tabs), but this guide will show you how to recover a closed tab with a single click using a handy toolbar button.

Head over to Firefox Add-ons page and download the Undo Closed Tabs Button add-on.  This feature will be enabled as soon as you restart your browser.

Once you’ve restarted your browser, the Undo Closed Tabs add-on is activated but still needs to be added to your toolbar.  Select View –> Toolbars –> Customize… as shown below.

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Scroll through the list until you find the Undo Closed Tab button, and drag it anywhere you like on your toolbar.

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Now whenever you close a tab, you can easily click the Undo Closed Tab button on your toolbar to reopen it.  This button also contains a dropdown list of all recently closed tabs (and removes it from the obscure location under the History menu).

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Note:  If you’re an avid keyboard shortcut user, Firefox’s built-in tab restoration can be triggered by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + T.

Tree Style Tab Makes Tabbed Browsing Even Better

treestyletab_tabsFirefox only:  Do you remember the first time you discovered tabbed browsing, and how wonderful it was?  Well, for as much as tabbed browsing has revolutionized our browsing experience, tabs still seem to be clunky and inefficient at times (especially if you’re a power user).

The solution lies in Tree Style Tab, an add-on for Firefox that turns your space-limited horizontal tab bar into a vertical column with a tree-style hierarchy.  If you have a widescreen monitor, switching to Tree Style Tab is a no-brainer because it makes better use of your extra horizontal space (instead of cramming into your already limited vertical space).

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Default Firefox Tabs

Not only does this add-on give you more room for tabs, it also neatly organizes them into a tree-style hierarchy.  This means that when you open a link from a website in a new tab, it will organize that new tab as a child of the original website.  This allows you to keep separate browsing sessions grouped together, and you can minimize groups to keep them out of the way.  All tabs are interchangeable, so if you want to move a child to a different parent it can be done by dragging and dropping it somewhere else.

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Firefox with Tree Style Tabs

To add Tree Style Tab to your browser, head over to the add-on download page and click ‘Add to Firefox’.  After a browser restart, new tabs will open up in a column on the left side of your browser (which can be adjusted to show up on any side).

There are two small configuration changes I recommend making to Tree Style Tab.  By default, Tree Style Tabs opens custom-sized script generated windows (like Gmail’s external composer) in a new tab instead of a separate window.  To restore the original functionality, navigate to the Tree Style Tab options under Tools –> Add-ons in Firefox.  Under the Tab Operations tab, open the ‘Open tabs instead of windows’ tab and check ‘Open as Window when it have [sic] special width, height, etc’.

treestyletab_javascript_tabsTree Style Tab also minimizes unfocused tab groups by default, but I like to keep them open to jump around quickly (and I have plenty of space to keep them open).  To change this, visit the Tree Style Tab options page again and click the Advanced tab.  In here, uncheck ‘Collapse distractive subtrees automatically, when a tab is opened or focused’.

treestyletab_focus_groupsTree Style Tab allows for an incredible amount of customization, so spend some time in the options menu and find your perfect configuration.

Tree Style Tab is a free add-on for Mozilla Firefox.  [Tree Style Tab | Add-ons for Firefox]