I don’t know about you, but I roll with a lot of tabs open on my Windows and Mac machines.
I know I could use bookmarks or something to manage those tabs, but I don’t.
And then I complain about how much RAM Google Chrome is eating.
But now Google is turning the tables on me, and showing me how much system memory my tab addiction is costing me.
In fact, Google will show you how much memory each tab is using.
For this trick, you need to be running Google Chrome 119 or later on Mac, Windows, Linux, and ChromeOS. If you don’t know what version you’re running or need to update, click on the three dots on the right of the address bar, and go to Help and About Google and you’ll be given the opportunity to update to the latest version of the browser.
And fear not, you won’t lose any tabs closing the browser to update! They’ll be there when it reloads.
Once you’re running an updated browser, all you need to do is hover your cursor over a tab.
Google Chrome also has a Memory Saver feature that was added earlier this year which makes tabs that you aren’t using inactive, allowing the browser to free up unused memory (the downside is that when you need that tab, Google Chrome will need to reload it). The tab cards will show how much memory this feature has saved by making tabs inactive.
Note that inactive tabs are easier to spot because the icons have a grey dash circle around them.
Because of the complicated way that operating system handle memory usage, there’s no direct correlation between memory usage and the amount of physical RAM that your computer has which is being used.
On a system with say eight gigabytes of RAM, you could easily have more than eight gigabytes of tabs open, and that’s because the operating system will save — or cache — some of that information to the storage drive. This allows for more tabs and programs to run, but slows things down.
And this is the effect that active tabs have — slowing down the entire computer. Google’s Memory Saver feature goes a long way to improving system performance when a user has a lot of tabs open, but still, every tab is taking up memory and slowing down your system.
Not seeing memory usage on tabs? That may be because Google isn’t offering you the latest browser. You can turn this on in earlier versions by typing (or pasting) the following into the address bar, hitting ENTER, and enabling the feature:
Also, if Memory Saver or Energy Saver aren’t enabled on your system, click the three dots next to the address bar, and go to More Tools and Performance, and from there enable the options.
With Google Chrome’s Memory Saver option, this feature is not as useful as it might have been once. Now chances are that unless you have a pinned tab or a tab with form data in it, the browser will make it inactive if you leave it open for long enough.
Still, it’s interesting to see just how much memory the web pages loaded into different tabs are using.