How to work faster in your web browser

Sometimes it’s all too easy to get lost in your web browser trying to get the job done.

Once you’ve dug through dozens of browser tabs, you constantly have to wade through them all to find your way back to Gmail or Google Docs. Or instead of trying to find sites you’ve already opened, you simply reopen them in a new tab, creating even more clutter.

As they say in the infomercials, there is a better way. By making a few changes to your web browser, you can more easily access the websites you use most and reduce tab clutter. Here are some things to try:

Creating shortcuts to web applications helps you find them when you need them.

Turn websites into web applications

Instead of loading your favorite websites as browser tabs, consider converting them into “applications” that mimic the behavior of desktop programs.

These web apps will launch in their own separate window, without the address bar, bookmarks, and other cumbersome menus you’d normally get in your browser. Better yet, you can launch them directly from the Windows taskbar or Start menu, or from the macOS dock, so you don’t have to fetch them from a sea of ​​browser tabs. I use this trick for Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Keep, Chrome Remote Desktop, Airtable, and the free Photoshop Pixlr E alternative, and it has fundamentally changed my workflow.

Here’s how to turn a website into an app in Chrome:

  • Click the vertical menu button “…” when you visit the site you want to convert.
  • Head to “More Tools” and select “Create Shortcut”.
  • Make sure to check “Open as window”, then select “OK”.

Building web apps in Microsoft Edge is slightly easier:

  • Click the “…” menu button on the site you want to convert.
  • Select “Applications”, select “Install site as an application”, then click “Install”.

If you’re using Windows, the new app will appear in the Start menu under “Recently Added.” You can then drag it to your pinned apps section in the Start menu or add it to the Windows taskbar by right-clicking the app when it’s open.

If you’re on a Mac, the new app will automatically appear in your dock. Drag it anywhere on the dock to keep it permanently.

Sidekick’s sidebar makes it easy to find your essential work apps.

Add an app launcher with Sidekick

Sidekick is an alternative web browser that makes it easier to access web applications. It offers a persistent left sidebar – hence the name – where you can pin icons for Gmail, Slack, Google Docs, Trello, Mailchimp, Notion, and dozens of other popular web services. It’s basically an application dock for your browser, allowing you to load your favorite sites without having to open them as browser tabs. (The browser itself is based on Chromium, the same open-source code Google uses for Chrome, so it also supports all of the same browser extensions.)

After installing Sidekick, you can add new apps by tapping the “+” icon in the sidebar. To shrink the sidebar to fit more apps on the screen, click the gear icon, then adjust the “Sidebar size” slider.

Sidekick also uses your browser history to provide shortcuts in each web application. Right-clicking the Google Docs icon, for example, brings up a list of recent documents to launch. Right-clicking on Trello takes you to recent cards or boards. And for websites you open as browser tabs, Sidekick will remember them, so you can close the browser without losing your progress.

Sidekick is free, but an $8 per month Pro subscription is required if you want multiple workspaces with their own app docks, like one for personal apps and another for work.

With Workona, you can divide your essential web applications into workspaces.

Sort apps into workspaces with Workona

If switching to a new browser seems too extreme, you can always use a browser extension to keep your tabs under control. Workona is an extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge that organizes tabs into “workspaces” that you can view and search from a single menu. It’s an alternative to dividing your tabs into separate windows for different tasks.

Installing the extension adds a permanent Workona tab to the left side of your browser. From here you can view all of your workspaces, move tabs between them, and add separate bookmarks for each workspace. You manage all of this by dragging and dropping your tabs.

The Workona menu also has an application dock, where you can add popular web applications. Once an app is in the dock, you can click it to show shortcuts, such as a list of recent documents in Google Drive or links to your boards in Trello. You can also access these shortcuts through the Workona search bar.

Best of all, Workona is great at remembering what you do. If you pin a tab in your web browser, that tab will be available in all of its workspaces. This means you can pin sites like Gmail or Slack and never lose sight of them. The extension will also save any tabs you have open after closing the browser and sync them across devices so you can pick up where you left off from anywhere.

Workona is free, but you’re limited to 10 workspaces without a $6 Pro subscription per month.

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