Tabs revolutionized web browsing and now Opera One is set to revolutionize tab management for people who regularly open dozens of tabs. You’re going to want this brilliant new feature.
It is hard to imagine using a web browser without tabs and everyone has several open at any one time. When there are just a few, you don’t have to do anything special to manage them. Tabs appear across the top of the browser and you can see them all.
When there are half a dozen tabs open, it is possible to see all or at least some of the titles of the websites and pages. This makes it easy to switch from one tab to another as you browse or work on the web.
Some people have dozens of tabs open at once and this presents a problem. Tabs shrink to fit and stop showing titles, so you cannot see what each tab is showing. Some tabs may be off the side of the browser and not visible at all. These problems make it difficult to switch tabs and you just cannot see the tab you want to switch to. You may end up clicking tabs at random in an effort to find the one you want.
Opera One, which is currently available as an early developer version, adds AI to tab management and it automatically organizes tabs into logical groups for you. It calls them islands and an island can contain multiple tabs, each showing different websites and pages.
Islands are automatically created by analyzing the content being displayed on tabs and then grouping similar ones. If you opened several news sites, some video sites and your favorite sport sites, Opera One would create three islands, one for each topic and then assign the tabs to the appropriate one.
Tab islands can be shrunk to a single vertical colored bar to save space and hide ones you currently don’t need. Clicking an island expands it to show all the tabs it contains. You can then click one to make it the current active tab.
You can also see a list of tabs in an island and click one to make it the current one. This can be done without expanding the island, so all the other tabs remain hidden.
This is a clever feature and one that we might see cropping up in other web browsers. Let’s take a look at how it works.
Create tab islands automatically
- Click the Opera icon in the top left corner to open the menu.
- Select Features in the sidebar.
- Scroll down to the User interface section.
- Turn on the switch next to Automatically create tab islands.
When tab islands is set to automatic in Opera settings, open tabs and go to websites that have a similar topic. For example, you could open several video sharing sites, news sites, golf sites or whatever you are interested in.
After opening several websites on tabs, you might see one or more colored vertical lines in the tab bar. This means that the browser has organized two or more tabs into a tab island, which is a group of tabs based on a topic.
Click the colored line to shrink the tab island and hide all of the tabs, click it again to expand the tab island and show them all. You could have 20, 30 or even more tabs in half a dozen islands that take up almost no space in the tab bar.
Create tab islands manually
If there are already one or more tab islands and you want to add a tab to it, for example, if it has not been automatically added, right click the tab and move the mouse over Move to island. A list of islands is displayed and you can select the one you want to move the tab to.
If there are already tab islands, click the colored vertical line to expand an island, then click and drag a tab and drop it among the other tabs in the island. This adds it in the position it is dropped in. You can also rearrange tabs in an island by clicking and dragging them.
Expand a tab island and when the mouse is over one of the tabs contained in it, a dot appears after the last tab. Move the mouse over this dot and it becomes a plus button. Click the plus to create a new tab. Whatever site you open on this new tab is added to the tab group.
When there are multiple tabs open, Ctrl+click tabs to select them, then right click one of them and select Create tab island. A new tab island containing the tabs is created and a color is assigned to it.
More about tab islands
Click any of the colored vertical lines in the tab bar to expand and contract the tab island tabs. Let the mouse hover a colored vertical line for a second and a list of the websites in the tab island is displayed.
This is useful when there are several tab islands and you can’t rememver what is in each one. You can see the list of tabs without needing to expand each one. You can also click any of the tabs in the list to make that tab the current one and visit the web page.
Final thoughts on tab islands
This is a great feature for people that have a large number of tabs open. When there are more than 10 tabs, organizing them into tab islands is a great way to manage them. You can shrink islands you are not currently using and free up tab bar space. This provides more space for tab titles, so you can see what is on each tab.
If you quit Opera, the tabs and tab islands are remembered and next time you open the browser it continues exactly where you were with the same tabs and islands.
I found that moving the mouse from the colored vertical bar to the tab island menu a bit tricky and sometimes the menu just closed before I could select anything. The main problem I had was that I could not find a way to name tab islands.
Right click a tab, select Move to an island and they are simply called Island 1, Island 2, Island 3 and so on. The name is meaningless and I can’r remember which island I want to move the tab to. Clearly Opera is organizing tabs in islands by topic, so why not use the topic name instead of Island 1, 2 3 and so on?
Right now, this is just an early access developer version and it is not yet finished. It is not perfect, but it is close and it may change with user feedback. I think tab islands are a great idea and if you are a tab monster, you will find it a great help in organizing them.
One final thought, it is great being able to hide tabs in islands, but you can easily forget how many you have got open when you cannot see them. I got carried away and ran out of memory on an 8 GB RAM computer I was using it on. Don’t get carried away!