Tired of Chrome Slowing You Down? Try This Extension!

If you use Google Chrome, you may have noticed that the browser can be very sluggish at times. If you open multiple tabs, the problem gets even worse. Maybe you’ve tried closing tabs, restarting the browser, uninstalling extensions, or scanning for malware, but performance doesn’t improve. On portable devices, this can even drain your battery. This was true in my use of Chrome and it really started to frustrate me, so I went searching for answers.

Why is it like this?

Chrome has never been good at handling system resources, even if the user isn’t trying to do too much at once. That is, it takes more of your device’s computing power and memory to run than other browsers. This issue is compounded when multiple tabs are opened, as each tab needs places more demands on the device.

It makes sense that closing those extra tabs would then free up those resources, right? Unfortunately not. Even though you close the tabs, Chrome keeps them active in memory for easy recovery, so they’re never really closed.

What can be done?

Of course, you could always change to a different internet browser, but let’s assume you want to stay with Chrome. There are lots of extensions out there that claim to solve this slowness issue, and I have tried several with varying degrees of success. The one that worked best for me was Auto Tab Discard.

Auto Tab Discard suspends inactive or idle tabs, freeing up the resources needed to run them. You can choose to manually discard tabs or configure a time period for tabs to auto-discard. The default idle time is 10 minutes. If you don’t want a site to ever auto-discard, you can whitelist it for the session or for all time. The discard works like a pause. Your scrolling progress and any form text you entered are saved, but no Javascript (ads and widgets) or other draining activity continues.

Getting started

Once the extension is installed (visit the extension page while using Chrome) it starts working immediately. While this extension works just fine with its default configuration, if you’re a power user you may want to visit the additional settings mentioned at the end of this article.

To open Auto Tab Discard, click on the puzzle icon in the upper right corner of the browser. Then left-click Auto Tab Discard from the sub-menu. Pro tip: You may want to click the pin icon first to keep Auto Tab Discard visible in the toolbar, otherwise you will need to click the puzzle icon every time you want to access it.

Extension list

The basic menu that comes up allows you to choose to manually discard or keep tabs, or see more options:

Left-click menu

At first I was confused because the Keep Tabs for This Site area was grayed out for me. Then I right-clicked on the Auto Tab Discard icon and discovered a different menu that allowed me to keep the tab for this session. After I did that, the Keep Tabs for This Site “always” option was available in the left-click menu.

The right-click menu

You can tell a tab is paused by the icon next to the website’s favicon (underlined in red):

A paused tab with the indicator underlined

To activate the page again, simply click on the tab.

So many options

The options button at the bottom of the left-click Auto Tab Discard menu leads to a page with many, MANY options. You can customize just about everything (this is just the top of the list):

Full options screen

Give it a try!

Now that you know about the Auto Tab Discard extension, try it out today to see if your Chrome browser speeds up. Let us know how it went in the comments!