8 Ways to Stop Your Web Browser From Crippling Your Computer

By David Nield on at

Many of us spend most of our time on the web, but all too often browsing sessions can descend into a sprawling mess of memory-hogging, audio-playing tabs that bring your computer and your productivity to a shuddering halt. It doesn’t have to be that way.

1) Stick to one browser tab

Tabbed browsing has changed the way we navigate the web, but the evolution hasn’t been all for the better. If the number of tabs you’ve got open at any one time is in the single figures then consider yourself lucky. OneTab for Chrome and Firefox does exactly what it says, limiting you to a single tab to keep you focused and save system memory.

2) Keep your browser tabs in a queue

Image: Screenshot

If OneTab seems a bit on the draconian side for your needs, then we also like Tabs Limiter With Queue for Chrome. In this case the extension keeps your tabs in a queue rather than a list as OneTab does, so you don’t lose concentration but can still get around to other websites and pages when you’re ready. Tabs can still be opened as normal too, if needed.

3) Use a browser without tabs

Those of you who’ve had enough of the tab management and just want to ditch that approach altogether might be interested in Colibri, a new browser that gets rid of tabs completely. When you find a webpage that you want to get around to later, you add it to a bucket called Links, rather than a tab, and you can call up your Links list at any time.

4) Use full-screen mode

Most modern browser have a full-screen mode you can use to cut out distractions like other programs, menus, and shortcuts. On Chrome you can hit F11 (Windows) or Cmd+Ctrl+F (Mac) and on Firefox you can use F11 (Windows) or Cmd+Shift+F (Mac). In Chrome, you can hide the tab and address bar too via the options on the View menu.

5) Streamline websites as you visit them

Your standard webpage comes with a whole host of extra code besides the actual content, and uBlock Origin for Chrome and Firefox strips down sites to their most essential elements. It can block ads, but that’s only part of what it does, and it’s very customisable. Don’t forget to whitelist ad panels on sites you want to support, such as Giz UK.

6) Use a read-it-later service

Many of you will already have signed up to services such as Instapaper or Pocket, but if you haven’t, then now might be a good time to consider it. They keep longer reads safely saved away for when you’ve got time to get around to them, so your browsing isn’t interrupted. You can even catch up on dedicated mobile apps when your computer’s off.

7) Cut out distracting websites

Maybe your problem is you’re just too easily distracted by the wonders of the web when you should be working on something that doesn’t involve Facebook, Twitter, or your favourite sports forum. If that’s you then again there are extensions to help: check out StayFocusd for Chrome or BlockSite for Firefox, both of which can be extensively customised.

8) Cut down on on-screen clutter

Today’s browsers do a pretty decent job of keeping a minimalist aesthetic by themselves, but you can probably still do some tidying up if you open the extensions page in your browser of choice. Hide any useful extensions that don’t always have to be on view, and uninstall completely any add-ons that you don’t really need. Your browser will thank you.