You Should Switch to a Browser With ‘Vertical Tabs’
They help you read, think, and remember
For six years now, my main browser has been Vivaldi.
Why, you may ask?
Confessions of a tab-hoarder
I’m a pretty extravagant tab-hoarder. Currently I’ve got 94 tabs open — and that’s on the low side, since the number is usually well over 150. This is probably way more than the average person, I grant you! As this decade-old study of Firefox users would suggest, most people probably have a single-digit number of tabs open. Not me. I go for broke.
Why do I have so many tabs open? Because my work is research-intensive, and also longitudinal: If I’m working on a story for a few months, I might open 25 tabs in a flurry of research one evening, then leave half of them open as mental reminders for the weeks to come — oh, yeah, I should follow up on that. Seeing those weeks-old tabs, as I flit about doing my work, is a mental trigger to keep thinking about that subject.
It’s much like the cognitive value of leaving stacks of paper on your desk for months. When you idly glance at the corner of a document, peeking out from an unruly stack, it helps refresh that document in your mind. It keeps subjects from vanishing from your attention, and encourages your backbrain to ruminate on those subjects for weeks, months, or years. (This, indeed, was one of the findings in the insanely interesting book The Myth of the Paperless Office.) Having a document or tab lurk around the edges of your work for a long, long time can be crucial to doing long-term thinking.
Now, I know there are people who hate having cluttered desks and cluttered browsers. They find it distracting and mentally chaotic. That’s cool; this piece is not aimed at you! It’s for those of us who get deep value from having a sprawling amount of info arrayed before us.
The problem with horizontal tabs
The problem is, if you are one of those people — like me — most browsers have settled on a terrible UI decision: They arrange the tabs horizontally, along the top of the browser.