My simple, dumb, flexible way to beemind browser tabs

There are old threads about this – eg, Beeminding Browser Tabs? – but they’re so old that I’m going to start over and describe what I currently do. (Also someone asked me and I told them and then I felt silly not having it here in the forum.)

I feel weird about how annoyingly fine-printy and/or loosey-goosey it is but, well, here it is:

  1. Install this dirt simple Chrome extension that does nothing but show how many total tabs you have open: Chrome Tab Counter - Chrome Web Store

It puts the number in red next to the address bar like this:


  1. I have a manual, do-more “tabdeath” goal – – for which I can enter a +1 by making my total number of tabs (as shown by the browser extension) be one less than previously. In the Beeminder datapoint comment I record the current number of tabs so I always know what the previous tab count was.

  2. But also I can get a +1 even without making the total go down if (a) I get rid of some specific ugh-y tab that I name in the datapoint comment, or (b) I get down to my ideal minimal number of tabs.

So it doesn’t have a ton of teeth relative to most Beeminder goals but it gets me to flip through pointlessly open tabs once a day closing things. So that’s a pretty big win, not letting things just build indefinitely.

Typical data looks like this:



Same here! But with the Firefox extension Tab Counter.

For now I use manual inboxer goals, since I had multiple profiles, with each approaching/reaching 1000 tabs. It’s easiest just to enter the total number of tabs. The slope goes inexorably down. On every eep day I need to be at a certain number of tabs. But, since it’s a manual goal, if I’ve opened a lot of tabs in the mean time, it’s possible that Beeminder tells me I need 1 open tab less and that I need to archive say 100 tabs to reach that goal.

On the enthusiastic recommendation of the forum, I’ve started to use Pocket. It’s a valuable asset, since a certain class of open tabs can be easily sent to Pocket, to go into another queue to be Beeminded at a later date.

Once I reach a total of sub-100 over all profiles and devices combined, I may give a tabdeath-goal a try. I like the simplicity, but it’s possible I’m too prolific a tab-opener for it to work. ETA: Strike-out because I misinterpreted part of the idea.


OK this doesn’t use beeminder, but here’s my evolved strategy that’s mad enough to appeal to some of you perhaps:

  • install Tree Style Tab
  • never close any tabs
  • until I have 1000 or so (really) and firefox starts to slow down (isn’t firefox amazing?)
  • select a tab
  • scroll down quickly through them until a tab or ten I actually care about catches my eye (because all the tabs are so old by now, I don’t care about almost all of them)
  • shift-click on the tab above the interesting one(s), right click and use Tree Style Tab’s Close Selected Tabs to close the 100 or so I just selected
  • keep going through all the tabs (doesn’t take long when it’s ~ a hundred at a time)
  • bookmark all tabs and export them so I can refer back to the interesting ones that are left open
  • close the “interesting” ones too, leaving just the ones I’m using right now
  • never look at the bookmark files ever again

I used really the same idea to get rid of a lot of books I knew I didn’t need but I didn’t want to get rid of: scanned the barcodes to make a list of the books so I wouldn’t forget what they were, got rid of the books, then ~ never looked at the list again. But knowing I could let me get rid of them.


Alternative idea: Chromium extension “Tab wrangler” After X amount of time spent it’ll auto close the least active tabs except for Y amount that you allow. It will close them but you can restore them from it’s history menu (can also change the amount of tabs it remembers). This one has helped me decently, another cool tab extension I have is “Snooze this tab” which lets you quick close something and have it reopen at another date

I found that with Safari’s tab groups I now have a really good handle over my tabs. Somehow this addresses the root issue, not that I could clearly put a finger on what exactly is the root issue, but being able to, well, group tabs together and being able to very easily (literally one click) switch between them made it SO much easier to keep them under control.

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I’m still going strong with my tabs goal, as I’ve described on the forum before. It works really well for me, and it has the advantage of being exceedingly simple. In short: I track the number of browser tabs I have open, and I have a whittle-down goal with a rate of -2/day. Whenever I get down to a low number of tabs I archive the goal, my tabs inevitably balloon again, and a few weeks later I restart it.

Mind you, this probably only works because I’m happy to have a four-digit number of tabs open so long as the trend is downwards—I currently have 1441 tabs open, and that’s fine because I know that number is trending inextricably down. This has worked amazingly; it’s my second-longest running currently active Beeminder goal, running with only short breaks since April 2018. It’s helped me not only keep my from burying myself under an ever-increasing amount of open browser tabs, but also to actually get to more than a few really interesting things I have left open as browser tabs with only the indefinite intent to read them at some point in the future—the need to close tabs by the end of the day bring to the forefront the decision of whether I actually want to read it or not. (In many cases the answer is yes, and I read it then and there in order to close it, and thus I get to read something I otherwise might have put off forever. And also in many cases the answer is no, I get a quick win in closing a tab “for free”, and I’m no longer burdened with the weight of a browser tab I never would have gotten to in any case.)


I feel I should mention which I found out about from a previous thread like this and has worked very well for me as a solution that approaches the problem from a different angle. It’s a browser extension that just shuts your browser tabs down but saves them all in a list so you can find them again later (and restore them en masse if you like but I have rarely/never used that option). It was what I needed - I didn’t want to just kill all my tabs but I knew realisitically that “processing” them was brain cycles that I didn’t really need to spend. Originally I made a Beeminder goal to save all my tabs every few days but now I just have it as a recurring reminder.