Please help with tab panic - 3020 firefox tabs are making me go insane

So I have a lot of tabs open on firefox now. Three thousand and twenty, to be precise. And they keep coming in and I just start panicking and don’t know how to deal with them. (I use Tree Style Tabs to facilitate viewing them.)

I started trying to get them off my phone by syncing my phone firefox with the computer and opening the phone tabs on my computer. So I keep growing my collection by a few hundred every few days.

Help! They’re just breeding so fast and overwhelming me. I feel so out of control! They are like hydras because each one has other links that must be clicked, so each time I go to one to process and get rid of it, more links end up getting opened.

How do I fight them off?

My ideal would be some kind of program that does the following:

  1. Takes all tabs and places them in a queue.
  2. Takes over my whole screen blocking everything else out.
  3. Presents the tabs to me one at a time but does NOT allow me to open any new links! That “feature” would be disabled.
  4. I could then process each one GTD-style.

I am so behind and so ADD and depressed and I can’t deal with life! Argh!

Many pertain to current projects and contain information that must be stored in some way. Others are news articles I opened up and wanted to read at the time but probably don’t need to anymore. Still others are forum comments I want to respond to.

Relevant XKCDs:


You close them. All. Now. And then life continues. Breathe.


Welcome back! How is Finland?

Thank you for the suggestion, but they do have information on them that I need to process, so I can’t actually just forget about them.


Finland is nice so far. It’s all a big adventure. :slight_smile:

Seriously: Close those damn tabs. There is nothing important in there. You are caught up in noise right now, not information.


I’m with @matti. OneTab might help with the anxiety.


@matti @narthur

Unfortunately, guys, I’m actually telling the truth when I say this is actually stuff that I need to process and deal with and can’t just disregard. It’s not particularly helpful to tell me I’m wrong about this.

OneTab is for Chrome, but as far as I know it just makes a list of the tabs, right? There are similar extensions for firefox - one which I already have installed just creates a text list of URLs to copypaste somewhere. The problem is processing them once I get them in a list.


I think you’re thinking that you’re telling the truth. This is just anxiety speaking. Close the tabs. Breathe.

If you must: Allow yourself one unit of time (e. g. an hour) to filter out things that actually matter. Make the amount of things less than 10, discard the rest.


I appreciate the thought, but that’s really not what I want to do. The goal here is to process the tabs.

If I said I had 3000 pieces of mail or documents that I needed to go through and deal with, would you tell me to just throw them all away?


Yes, probably. “Throw it into a box and put it in the storage and deal with it (the specific thing, not the box) when something comes up.”, I’d say, realistically.

Keep in mind: Websites are not official/business documents though. Information on the web is in general much more redundant, ephemeral and noisy.

Get rid of it. Do not commit the completionist/perfectionist fallacy.

EDIT: Suggested listening 5by5 | Back to Work #17: Brick Building Full of Lies


If I had 3020 “important” tabs to attend, I would just go to sleep & forget that I have a life. :smiley:

I suggest something slightly less drastic, but only slightly.

Take all those tabs, record them, and put them away. Your new job is to stay on top of your tabs. If you can stay on top of your tabs, you get to process your backlog.

This works for paperwork, emails, tabs…


Could you use CSS to make links unclickable? There’s a Firefox/Chrome extension called Stylish that allows you to easily add style sheet functionality to your browser, so a bit of fiddling with that might yield at least part of the answer for you.

Edit: see for suggestions as to how to use CSS to do this - it will work for Stylish, mutatis mutandis.

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Even so. Important Email always comes twice…

Important tabs will re-appear if it is actually relevant.
If you’re growing your tab collection by a hundred a day, there is an underlying problem you have to tackle.

I’d kill it with fire. People will be fine without your comment on the forum, or it’ll reappear. Articles will reappear some day. The project stuff might be the most important. But is it really worth it?
If you say it is, there is no automated way. You sit down and work through every single tab and file it to your new system.

New system? Well…
Articles to read? Pocket App or something like readitlater if that still exists.
Project work? Evernote or Notion, which have web clippers and store information for contexts.
Forum? To-do list.

Either way, this or a similar system should be used from now on. If a tab is not worth it to put in any of these systems… Why are you keeping it?
Your tabs cannot be your to-do list, because obviously your tablist is writing checks that your brain can’t cash in. So stop using it in that way and create a system that will actually accommodate information flow to places where you can adequately process them.


I use Tab Snooze ( for this, not sure if it would be helpful or not.

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I want to get a little meta here. @zedmango I think you’ve done a really great job with this post. You’ve taken something that’s probably a big anxiety ball, identified it, found some people to ask about it, and wrote a really clear and straightforward post.

Nice work!


That’s super fair.

What are the specific negative outcomes you’re afraid would occur if you were to declare “browser tab bankruptcy?”


(Quick meta: Questioning assumptions can be helpful but it’s not being done very well here! Huge kudos to @zedmango for patiently steering us back to the question at hand…)

I think this is a super legit question and I think @adamwolf touched on the right solution: isolate that backlog and make sure that you can keep tabs from further accumulating starting now. This is the thesis of my recent blog post on redqueening.

Then the next question is how to set up a Beeminder goal to steadily whittle that backlog down. Eager to hear more thoughts on that from people!


I’ve never used a whittle-down goal before. How do they work?

A naive approach might be to simply create a do-more goal for backlog items processed.

Of course, depending on the negative outcomes @zedmango is trying to avoid, it might make sense to somehow do some prioritization of the backlog… Maybe based on URL domain?

Whittle downs work well. I do them all the time, but they’re always
targeted and not goals-that-last-forever.

As part of my year-end review process, I go through every single item
in my task tracker. I beeminded that here:


I really want to say this is my absolutely biggest pet peeve when it comes to asking for help online. It gets seriously frustrating. After asking once if the problem, as stated, really is a problem, please stop. If I was @zedmango here I would have completely just gave up on trying to get a useful

@zedmango, have you tried a whittle down goal? What if you give yourself the goal of reducing the number of tabs by some small number every day? If you have to open links, so be it, you’ll have to do extra work to get to a lower number. Always keep in mind that’s your goal; maybe find tabs with the least amount of links to click; anything to meet the small decrease from whittle down.