Having a lot of tabs open seems to be so widespread that it has transcended being a Dawkinsian meme (Just a habit that people have and notice, and perhaps gets normalized and spreads) to become a regular meme1 where people are amused at the phenomenon.

This state of affairs is generally not liked by those that suffer from chronic tabitis, citing various reasons like

  • Makes the computer slow
  • A crash can make them disappear, losing those bookmarks forever
  • Their sheer number makes it hard to even read them anymore

The reason for the explosion of tabs usually given may include:

  • You get sent links, or stuff to read and it has to go somewhere
  • You get into rabbit holes (e.g. TVtropes) where each site leads you to open a large N of tabs

There are a bunch of hacks that some people use, but these are just that, hacks. These include things like The Great Suspender or OneTab. These are like statins to lower cholesterol but what you really want is to stop eating all that fast food all the time.

I don't suffer from tabitis and I'm pleased with my browsing habits so I thought I should share them.

First, as you may imagine I have very varied interests, so like the usual tabitis sufferer I come across interesting things from all sorts of angles that I want to read. But most of the content I want to read is ultimately coming from:

  • Twitter
  • Feedly (my RSS reader of choice)
  • Papers that come up in various email chains
  • Online exploration

What I generally do for these is that if the content is not directly relevant to what I'm doing at the moment I archive it, and then I read it once a month. So:

  • I fav tweets and then I can read a month's worth at the end of each month. I know when to start reading because that's the date of when I last checked all the favs
  • Feedly has a bookmark function
  • For everything else I use pocket

So I pick everything, and go through it and write a post (The Links post) with what I actually thought was relevant. Maybe I'm not interested anymore and in that case I'll skim it or skip it altogether, or maybe it's interesting and I'll read it. Sometimes it may be relevant in the future so I'll keep track of it anyway by adding a link to the post even if I haven't fully read that piece of content.

Of course while writing these links posts the number of tabs explodes, but then they are immediately culled down. Maybe open 20 then work through them and then open another 20.

This accomplished various things:

  • The stuff I'm supposed to read is backed up in various services, I don't depend on a single device to be up keeping track of the tabs; and likewise the content is not spread across many devices
  • I know what I have read and not read yet, based on the time relative to the previous Links post
  • No clutter in my browser!
  • More focused reading. I avoid impulsive reading X because in the moment it seemed interesting. A month's worth of time provides time for more things related to X to be added to the pile which may make X itself irrelevant or can add context to it.

I hope this system helps you if you suffer from tabitis!


Meme is now mostly used in the "funny thing that gets copy pasted following some set pattern" and not in the Dawkinsian sense, so memes proper are the latter and not the original meaning of the word.