How to Add Tab Sidebars to Google Chrome

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Google Chrome, and perhaps every other browser, has a horizontal tab bar at the top of its window. That can only fit so many tabs, and when you have about nine or 10 open they start to shrink to fit on the bar. However, you can add an entirely new vertical tab bar to Chrome with a few extensions.

It actually makes a little more sense to have a vertical bar as all the tabs can then be fitted in without shrinking them. Plus it’s much easier to fit search options at the top of a sidebar. As such, it’s surprising that browsers have yet to incorporate tab sidebars. These are a few of the extensions that add a tab sidebar to Google Chrome.

The Vtabs Sidebar

First, check out the vtabs extension for Chrome. Open this page and press the + Free button to add this extension to the browser. It adds a vtabs Status button to the toolbar. Press that button to open the sidebar shown below.

chrome sidebar

Press the Tabs button to open a list of tabs open in the browser as above. You can switch between the open tabs in your browser by selecting them there. Click the New tab button on the sidebar to open new tabs. Note that the sidebar doesn’t work on Google Store or New tab pages.

Select Settings on the sidebar to open the page shown in the shot below. There you can choose alternative themes for the sidebar. In addition, you also move it to the right of the browser’s window. Press the Save changes button at the bottom of the window to apply selected options.

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The Tidy Sidebar Vertical Tab Bar

Tidy Sidebar is an alternative extension that adds a tab dock beside Chrome’s window. Add the extension to the browser from this page. Then you’ll find a Tidy Sidebar button on the toolbar. Press that to open the sidebar dock in the snapshot directly below.

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This tab bar is actually a separate window from Chrome, but it docks to the left of the browser as a sidebar. Click Tab List to open a list of all your browser tabs as below. Note that this sidebar includes the tabs open in all Google Chrome windows. You can switch between the tabs and close them from there.

Tidy Sidebar also has a search box at the top. So if there are lots of tabs open in the browser, enter a keyword there to find a tab. Note that this sidebar also includes your bookmarked pages and site history, and you can also search them with the box at the top. 

You can also take and save notes in Tidy Sidebar. Press the Memo button at the top of the sidebar and then enter a note in the text box as below. Press the disk icon to save the note, which you can then open from the drop-down list at the top.

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This extension also includes a list of your recently closed tabs. Press the History button at the top of the sidebar and then select Recently closed tabs to open the list in the snapshot below. There you can reopen recently closed pages.

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The Sidewise Tree Style Tabs Sidebar

Sidewise Tree Style Tabs is another extension that adds a dockable tab sidebar to Chrome. Click here to open the extension’s page and add it to the browser. Then press the Open Sidewise button on toolbar to open the sidebar in the shot directly below.

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Pressing the button opens the tab sidebar at the side of the browser window. However, this sidebar is also a separate window that you can drag and move to other areas of the desktop. The sidebar includes all the tabs open in Google Chrome windows and hibernated tabs from the last session.

The sidebar has a hierarchical tree structure for tabs. As such, you can click on small arrows beside the tabs to expand any open subpages. Plus there’s a search box at the top where you can enter keywords to search for tabs.

Hibernate tab is one of this extension’s more notable options. With that you can temporarily close tabs to free up RAM and restore them later. Right-click a page on the sidebar and select the Hibernate tab option to temporarily close it. It remains on the sidebar, and you can restore the page by right-clicking it and selecting Wake tab.

In addition, Sidewise has a notepad option you can select. Press the Notepad button at the top of the sidebar to open the notepad below. Then enter a note in the sidebar’s text box.

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This extension has a recently closed tab list that you can reopen closed tabs from. Press the Recently Closed button at the top to open a list of closed tabs. Then you can reopen them by selecting them from there.

Press the Settings button at the top of the sidebar to open the page below. That includes extra options for the sidebar. For example, you can move the sidebar to the right of the window by selecting that option from the Dock sidebar to this side of the window drop-down list.

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Add a Vertical Tab List with Chrome Side Tabs

Chrome Side Tabs is a slightly more basic sidebar with fewer options that some of the others mentioned here. This is the extension’s page from which you can install it. Then press the Chrome Side Tab button to open it as below.

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This is also a dock that includes a list of your tabs in all Chrome’s windows. At the top right of the sidebar there is a Trigger Window Aware button you can press to filter out tabs that aren’t open in the active (selected) browser window.

Customize the sidebar’s colors by right-clicking the Chrome Side Tabs button on toolbar and selecting Options. That opens the page shown in the snapshot below. That includes color palette boxes you can select to customize the tab background, text and border colors with. Move the sidebar to the right by selecting the Open Side drop-down list.

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Those are four extensions that will add a tab sidebar to Google Chrome. Of those extensions, Sidewise Tree Style Tabs extension probably has the most extensive tab options. They will certainly come in handy if you open lots of tabs in multiple windows.

Posted by Matthew on April 13, 2016

2 thoughts on “How to Add Tab Sidebars to Google Chrome”

  1. Chris says:

    Great review. Im really trying hard here to migrate from firefox to chrome. One thing none of these do is actually move the tabs, it just emulates which does not work for me. I cannot stand having the tabs still up top as well. Its redundant.

    1. Paige says:

      Agreed. Tree Style Tabs on Firefox have become a necessity for me. I can’t find anything good enough for Chrome, which is what is keeping me from switching

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