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How to add vertical tabs to Chrome browser (there's a free extension for that)

Vertical tabs can help make your browsing more efficient and manageable, especially when the number of open tabs gets out of hand. Here's how you can add this feature to Chrome.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Until you've experienced vertical tabs, you have no idea how much better they are at keeping all of your open tabs organized and viewable. With this feature, you can better read the tab names, so you don't get lost in a sea of tiny favicons. Some vertical tab features also integrate with Workspaces for even better tab management.

Although a few select browsers (such as Arc, Vivaldi, Edge, Brave, and Safari) ship with vertical tabs built-in, the most widely used browser on the market -- Chrome -- does not. Fortunately, some extensions in the Chrome Web Store add this feature to the browser.

Also: You need a browser with vertical tabs - here's why and 5 options to try

Unfortunately, not all of those extensions are created equal. Some are badly designed or poorly executed, but within that pile of subpar extensions are a few that add perfectly good vertical tabs to Chrome. In my opinion, the best of the bunch is tabVertikal. This extension includes all the features you need for improved tab management, such as:

  • Workspaces
  • Tab suspender (and auto suspension)
  • Native Chrome tab group support
  • Auto tab grouping based on custom rules
  • Import/export tabs
  • Custom window titles and tab titles
  • Remove duplicates and sort tabs
  • Dark mode
  • Dozens of themes
  • Fuzzy search

This extension is free and can be installed in Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers. Let me show you how to install and use tabVertikal.

How to add vertical tabs to Chrome 

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need for this is an updated Chrome browser installed on your desktop of choice.

1. Open Chrome

The first thing you'll need to do is open your Chrome browser. Once you've done that, point it to the tabVertikal page in the Chrome Web Store.

2. Install tabVertikal

On the resulting page, click "Add to Chrome." When prompted, click "Add extension" to finish the task.

The tabVertikal extension page in the Chrome Web Store.

Click "Add to Chrome" and you're halfway there.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Pin the extension

To make this extension easier to work with, click the puzzle piece icon in the Chrome toolbar and then click the pin icon for tabVertikal. You should now see the tabVertikal icon to the left of the puzzle piece.

The Chrome extension drop-down.

You don't have to pin the extension, but it makes it easier to access.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Using tabVertikal

Before you dive into tabVertikal, know that there isn't much in the way of configuration options. You can, however, move the sidebar from the right to the left (which is my preference). To do that, paste the following URL into the Chrome address bar:


On that page, click "Show on left" under "Side panel."

The Sidebar setup page.

You can use tabVertikal on the left or right.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: Beyond Google: 5 Chrome extensions that give you search superpowers

Now, when you click on tabVertikal, the sidebar will appear on the left side of the browser with all of your open tabs. As you'll notice, you cannot hide the top tab bar from view, so with this extension (as with all vertical tab extensions for Chrome) you'll wind up with both.

The tabVertikal extension in action.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The tabVertikal extension also adds Workspaces to Chrome. This feature alone is worth using the extension. If you click the Workspace drop-down, you can start creating new workspaces.

You can think of Workspaces as categories for organizing your tabs. For example, you could have workspaces for Productivity, Shopping, News, Entertainment, and Education (or whatever you need). Create those Workspaces and then start adding tabs to them. The one thing you cannot do (which the extension's developer should consider adding) is move tabs from one Workspace to another.

Creating custom group rules

Another handy feature is the ability to create custom rules for the auto-grouping of tabs. Here's how to create a rule.

1. Open the TabGroup rules window

Click the three-dot menu at the top right corner of the sidebar and click Add Group Rules. 

2. Add a new rule

On the resulting page, click Add Rule.

The tabVertikal Add Rule button.

All of your rules will be found here.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: Why I always have more than one browser installed on my computer (and you should too)

3. Customize your rule

In the new pop-up, give the rule a name. In the next field, you'll want to add any text that the title might contain (such as technology or News). For the Domain option, I found the only way to get Auto Grouping to work properly is to select Domain.

Next, give the TabGroup a title and a color, and click Create Rule. Now, when you open a tab that follows the rule you just created, it'll be added to the group.

The tabVertikal New Rule pop-up.

Make sure to fill out everything, otherwise the rule won't be effective.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Enable auto tab grouping

Once you've done that, you'll then need to enable auto tab grouping. Click the three-dot menu within the sidebar and select Settings. From the tabVertikal Settings page, click the On/Off slider for Enable Auto Tab Grouping to put it in the On position.

The tabVertikal Settings window.

If you don't enable Auto Tab Grouping, your rules won't have any effect.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The one caveat is that tabVertikal's Auto Grouping feature isn't perfect. Sometimes new tabs will get added to a group in which they do not belong, and removing them from the group requires a second group to be created. There is no remove from group option, so the grouping feature can be problematic. Personally, I don't use the tab grouping feature and, instead, stick with Workspaces and the basic features, which are enough to make this vertical tabs extension my pick for Chrome.

Also: How to add Gemini access to your Chrome browser

There are other vertical tab extensions for Chrome, such as Vertical Tabs in Side Panel, SideTab Pro, and Vertical Tabs. If tabVertikal isn't your cup of tea, one of these three should fit the bill.

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