Beeminder Forum

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

Inspired by this thread I looked into how to get a list of opened tabs from Safari. Admittedly, little to no use to @zedmango unless the Firefox tabs were imported into Safari but I bet there is users who want to beemind their open tab count in Safari.
I found this SO answer, gave it a quick shot and sure enough I got a list of all open tabs along with their URL out of it – definitely more than enough for an automated Beeminder goal.
If this is of interest to people (say 5 likes) I’ll turn this into a little tool that will do exactly that: Update a goal with your count of open tabs automatically.

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I have this issue too, I use Chrome, but I think my strategy works just as well if you are on Firefox or another browser. I started creating a folder named with today’s date, and putting all the tabs I could not bear to part with into that folder as bookmarks. Do this for a while, and close the bookmarked tab once you have saved it. Usually I am adding just one single bookmark at a time, or a handful of related bookmarks at once, but periodically I will have too many tabs and not enough time. I try not to let it get that far gone anymore (3020 tabs! WOW)

I do this, creating a new dated folder, once every so often, certainly not every day, maybe less often than once a week, but more than once each month, depending mostly on the volume of bookmarks and sometimes with a natural boundary after moving on from one topic to another. I shoot for less than 20 dated folders each quarter. I bookmark the most important of my open tabs in the most recent dated folder, and discard the ones I don’t think I will need again. I started this habit in 2017, and after not long it became unnavigable, so I made a slight strategy change to organize, now it seems to work best if I group the dated bookmark folders grouped by Quarter and Year (eg 2019 \ Q4 \ 2019-12-20).

Frequently I will have a window open with a collection of related tabs, and their usefulness has not quite expired yet, but I can’t keep them around forever and don’t foresee having time to deal with them soon, so I use “Bookmark all Tabs” to put another topic folder inside of the current dated folder. I come back to these often, I find it very useful to maintain this process, I don’t really have the experience anymore of saying “yeah, I saw this article about it, but can’t remember where it was posted, or the title” and the date structure makes it pretty easy to find “that thing from about 6 months ago that I remember had something to do with XYZ, which is just perfect for right now.”

I used to use Delicious to collect links way back in the day, and at that time putting labels on bookmarks was a thing, but I don’t really miss labels to be honest, the date folders work more than well enough.

The harder problem for me is on mobile, I did not find a good reliable way to sync tabs from mobile to desktop in Chrome, so when I had too many mobile tabs, I was stuck with the clunky mobile interface. And there is no “Bookmark all Tabs” function that I could find on mobile at all, although it is possible to know how many tabs are open, reviewing open tabs one at a time, then possibly bookmarking and finally closing a single tab at a time takes much too long to get through everything in a single session when you have over 200-300 tabs open. Mind you I am not bookmarking every last tab, but these are the tabs I thought well enough of them to keep them rather than closing them straight away. I have finally bit the bullet and used the “close all tabs” button, my phone says Thank You and the performance seems to actually be noticeably improved after getting and keeping down to less than 10 open tabs.

I thought I’d just chime in and say, another vote for you are not the only one with this problem, although it sounds like yours is more extreme than I have experienced or seen before. Also it’s fairly cathartic writing about my browsing dysfunction for someone who has a similar problem.

I will second the “Whittle down” goal suggestion, it works really well and will help keep you from letting it get even further out of control. I used this successfully to “Gmail-zero” more than once, maybe some day I will do “computer parts zero” and get rid of the heap of old computer junk, we are most likely not just tab-hoarders, LOL. Good luck, and good journey!

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I’ll chime in with the system I personally use.

Whenever I find a page I want to keep for later for some reason, whether as research material or because it represents a task of some kind, I save the URL to a pinned “Inbox” note in Google Keep. I then clear that note out periodically, enforced by a simple do-more Beeminder goal (+1 when I empty the inbox note). That entails saving the link to my research library, adding a task to my todo system, or otherwise handling whatever that URL represented.

Because I’m pretty careful to copy out important URLs to Google Keep, whenever my tabs start getting out of hand, I hit the OneTab button, sweeping all my tabs into the OneTab page, where I can pull any tabs back out that I later discover I actually needed. I’ll often hit the OneTab button multiple times in a day.

I’m not sure how many tabs OneTab will keep, but every time you hit the OneTab button it creates a new section at the top of the page (screenshot below to give you an idea), and I basically never clear them out in OneTab, so it’s a pretty long history now that I pretty much never look at.

Of course, that’s not that helpful if you already have a large backlog to process of items that may be important.

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Just to add to @yebyenw’s suggestion: looks like you can easily place all the currently open tabs into a bookmark folder that you could then name with today’s date, which may get you started in terms of whittling them down.

In Firefox, you’ll need to use an extension like this one, since they apparently took out the functionality.

In Chrome, you can do it with Ctl+Shift+D, or it’s on the right-click menu on the tab bar.

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I think your idea of processing each one GTD-style is a good approach. Because there are so many items, I’d be tempted to do an initial triage pass just to make it more manageable.

In this case, I’d probably split everything into three buckets: actionable/information that I will need in the next month or so, things that I want to reply to, and things that might be useful information but need reading to be sure. Everything else (old news articles etc) could either be trashed or put in a “can probably trash but need to confirm” bucket. Once everything was split into buckets I’d probably dedicate an hour or two a day to process items from them, keeping to the GTD practice of “nothing goes back into the inbox”.

I’ve done this in the past when my inbox has grown out of control, and I feel like it helps me get past the anxiety of “what if I throw something away that I actually wanted?” whilst helping me whittle things down to a manageable level.

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What I do is very simple: I have a whittle-down goal, with what’s actually a fairly shallow slope (-2 per day), although I often retroratchet it.

Here’s a picture of my graph as it currently stands:

I’ve gone on and off this goal, as I manage to whittle it down to something reasonable, and then when I go off it it tends to balloon. But that’s fine, because when the number of open tabs hits something too unreasonable I just restart the goal. Here’s the graph with the x-min disabled:

As you can see, it actually works. I actually do keep my number of open tabs under control, without radical solutions like just closing them all.

I have to say, I consider the idea of declaring tab bankruptcy and closing them without reading them to be absurd: thanks to this Beeminder goal I’ve read and otherwise dealt with many interesting and useful tabs which had I declared bankruptcy I would have completely missed out on.

I can understand declaring tab bankruptcy if that was the only viable option to get things under control. But Beeminder exists, so why not have your cake and eat it too?

I’ll add that by far the most valuable thing about having this goal isn’t the -2 slope itself, but rather that it means that I can’t just go opening even more tabs willy-nilly. For every tab I open, I had better also close another by the end of the day (in fact, I had better close 2 more than the number opened).

I strongly recommend this method of dealing with too many open tabs. It works well, and it means that you do actually get to those tabs you opened. (As opposed to the type of solution which involves closing them all indiscriminately.)

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My take is that this is highly dependent on the contents of your tabs and the opportunity cost of what you could otherwise be spending your time on. :wink: I don’t doubt that carefully processing each tab makes sense for some people, but it would balance out to be a terrible waste of time for me personally.

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This thread exploded since the last time I participated. I’m curious: Do you feel like you can now solve your problem, @zedmango?

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Yeah, this has pretty much been my approach for the past few months. Just avoidance and depression. Just the thought of dealing with them as well as the other stuff in my “inbox” makes me want to panic!!

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Here’s what I’ve done so far:

I got the following Firefox extensions: OneTab, Tab Manager Plus, Panorama Tab Groups, Tab Stash (in the hope they’ll help me manage tabs)

Also Auto Tab Discard (deloads tabs from memory if I haven’t clicked on them for a bit, makes my computer run faster with all these tabs)

And I already had these extensions which I think will be helpful: Tabs Aside, Copy All Tab Urls, tabs2txt

I also made an account with Notion and dusted off my old Evernote account. Also making a Quip.

Still not really sure how to start diving in lol.

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I’m going to be really arrogant and quote my suggestion again. I really think it’s the best all things considered (I did say I was going to be really arrogant).

Emphasize the “find tabs that have the least links to click to deal with first”. Combine that with the successful experience a bit further down in the thread:

(read that whole post; I just quoted the beginning)

And I think you can start making progress from day 1 of setting this up.

Well, end super arrogant post. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Stupid idea incoming, @zedmango.

You could treat it like actual debt. There is the avalanche or the snowball method:

One starts with the highest interest first (avalanche), the other starts with the smallest sum (snowball). The first is mathematicallly optimal, the other helps people stick to it, due to the psychological reward of finishing things. Go with what feels best for you.

So, you mentioned you use some kind of tree grouping already. It may be possible to find the small stray tabs and work one by one to feed them to your new system. Alternatively, (and I’m sure despite 3k tabs, there’s that ONE tree, that you know is there. The one that is always in the back of your head.), tackle that one. Snowball or avalanche – small wins or fight Goliath.

I feel that would be two valid options to get started and build some momentum.

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Guys I’m really excited! Evernote has a Web Clipper addon for Firefox - look!

This looks very promising. I can go through tabs and save and clip the website or parts of it in an Evernote page and organize them in Evernote.

Now if only some program other than Evernote had something like this … does anyone know of an equivalent to this that’s not Evernote?

Specifically I’m looking for a note-taking or journal app that has a firefox addon to take a webpage, or part of a webpage, and store it in the app.

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Joplin does. Joplin is essentially an open source Evernote markdown thingie. IIRC the main missing thing was OCR but I haven’t looked at it in a few months.

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Oh wow it does! https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/joplin-web-clipper/

Thanks!

Ok, so the pieces are starting to come together -

  1. Some kind of Firefox addon to disable links or prevent me from opening any tabs, or maybe a CSS modification as clivemeister suggested.

(I could use a little more help on this part.)

  1. Some Firefox addon that manages and stores the tabs so I can go through them in some kind of systematic way.

(OneTab, Tab Manager Plus, Panorama Tab Groups, Tab Stash, Auto Tab Discard, Tabs Aside, Copy All Tab Urls, tabs2txt, Bookmark All Tabs)

(Now I just need some kind of logistical system for processing the tabs so I can use the GTD methodology on them - could use some help here too.)

  1. Joplin Web Clipper so that if a tab has some information I need for an open project, I can store it in a Joplin notebook for that project.

Thank you everyone for all the help so far!

And thanks for this - it helps to hear that when I’m feeling so down :slight_smile:

Yeah, agree with this as well. Glad to hear others feel this way also. It is pretty frustrating.

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So - here’s what I’m not sure about.

Do I put all tabs in bookmarks using one of the addons I mentioned, and then go through them one at a time? That way they’re in sort of a queue and it’s easier to focus.

Or do I keep them all open and go through them in some way first, closing ones that can be closed immediately, maybe sorting or grouping them?

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I was once guilty of having countless open tabs as well. Just not Not just in Firefox. I would start with Safari until that browser would start to slow my entire computer down. Then I would move on to Chrome which would inevitably RIP my CPU. Then after that I moved to Firefox which eventually would consume all my system memory.

And then…

… I created multiple Firefox profiles because I ran out of browsers to abuse.

How did I get rid of that crazy tab addiction? OneTab was a great help, but this was already mentioned. Yes, on paper it doesn’t do much more than what you could already do by the built in “create bookmarks folder for all tabs” feature in your browser. But it makes it just that little bit more convenient.

But the main thing that helped me, was this:

This wonderful invention makes it so I can’t have more than, in my case, 10 opened tabs per window. Overflowing tabs are placed into a queue.
This educated me to have a better balance between creating windows and tabs.
I now open up more windows than before. Roughly one window per topic/thing that I am doing. They don’t hide so good like tabs, are more in your face and that’s good because that means they won’t accumulate endlessly. And you, especially with Mission Control / Exposé of macOS, always have a pretty overview over them. And you can just bloody close an entire window with a dozen tabs in it.

This extension worked SO good that I no longer need it. I use Safari 90% of my time and I don’t have that extension there and I’m just fine.

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Here you go. :slight_smile:

Though, I can’t help but wonder if a tab-limiting extension might work better for you?

Notion has a web clipper, too.

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Oh crud. I’m sorry, yes that was my intention about Evernote and Notion. I should really explain myself better.

Both have webclippers and Android/iphone share functions. So that works for getting the information filed, saved and searchable. The main difference between evernote and Notion is how they handle information.

Evernote uses “Notebooks” and each Notebook can have notes and have tags, that will essentially be the website you clipped. It’s basically a modern filing cabinet.

Notion uses Pages (Markdown extended) in Databases that have metadata. So you can create different databases for projects and save the information in those databases and add metadata for context.

I personally use Notion, as I despise the Evernote price increase without proper warning. Notion has been a game-changer for me, as the pages can be very pretty and granular, but the database format enables extra information, as well as, relational databases and equations (like excel).

I know Thomas Franck uses Notion to essentially run his youtube channel (and did (does?) use Beeminder). Same here, Notion organizes my life planning, PhD, youtube, and blog. It’s quite versatile.

So you’ll get the information flow from the web into your Evernote / Notion / whatever, then you can process them there. Here’s an intro to databases, that explains better what I mean.

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