How to name your windows in Chrome

A productivity hack that’s finally made its way into the base code

Chrome version 88 came out on January 19, 2021, and it quietly introduced a feature that users have been asking for for years. I’ve been using this feature in Chrome’s “Canary” beta version for several months, and it’s become crucial to how I work.

It’s called “Window Naming”.

Window Naming: a new Chrome feature that lets you assign each window a name that will show up in menus and on the dock

Here’s the problem it solves. Have you ever hunted around in Chrome for the right window or tab? “I know I was working on project ______ in one of these tabs…”

If you only use a few tabs at a time in your browser, this isn’t for you. But if you manage multiple types of work in Chrome— for me that often means email, docs, taxes, operations (part of my job), writing, etc. — it can help to split each type of work into a separate window.

Reasons to use multiple windows:

Luckily, that way of working has been possible in browsers ever since tabs became a widespread feature in the early 2000s. (Yes children, browsers used to have no such thing as tabs!)

But there’s a problem, which is that it’s hard to remember what a given window is for! The “Window” menu tries to be helpful, by describing each window using the title of the webpage it currently shows. That’s better than nothing, but it’s hard to decode at a glance:

Bad: the Window menu’s auto-generated window titles are not helpful!
Bad: the Window menu’s auto-generated window titles are not helpful!
Bad: these auto-generated window titles are not helpful! Where did I put that form I was filling out…

Here’s where “Window Naming” comes in. It lets you name each window, so you instead see something like:

Good: with Window Naming, it is clear what each window contains!
Good: with Window Naming, it is clear what each window contains!
Good: clear what each window contains!

Sold? Here’s how to enable the feature.

1. Make sure you’re using Chrome version 88 or later

First of all, you’ll need to update Chrome to version 88 or later. Go to the “About Google Chrome” menu item:

“About Google Chrome” is where you can update your version
“About Google Chrome” is where you can update your version
“About Google Chrome” is where you can update your version

Here you can see your current Chrome version:

Where Chrome shows you its current version, you can update it
Where Chrome shows you its current version, you can update it
Where Chrome shows you its current version, you can update it

If Chrome is at version 88 or later, you’ve got a version that supports “Window Naming”. If not, it’ll give you an option to update; update and relaunch Chrome.

2. Turn on Window Naming

So now you’ve got Chrome up to date. By default, “Window Naming” is not turned on, so you’ll have to go to Chrome’s “flags” settings to enable it.

Go to the URL “chrome://flags”: (if your browser looks different from my screenshots, it’s just cosmetic — I use Chrome’s “dark mode”, different topic!)

chrome://flags has advanced features you won’t find in the regular Chrome settings
chrome://flags has advanced features you won’t find in the regular Chrome settings
chrome://flags has advanced features you won’t find in the regular Chrome settings

You’ll see this sorta scary page:

chrome://flags is experimental
chrome://flags is experimental
chrome://flags is experimental

(Note that “Window Naming” is considered an experimental feature by the Chrome team, but thousands of people have been using it for months.)

In the “Search flags” box, search for “naming”. You should see “Window Naming” come up:

Search chrome://flags for “naming”
Search chrome://flags for “naming”
Search chrome://flags for “naming”

Click on the “Default” dropdown menu on the right, and select “Enabled”:

Enable Window Naming
Enable Window Naming
Enable Window Naming

3. Relaunch Chrome

At the bottom of the screen, it’ll tell you to relaunch Chrome. Make sure any of your work in various tabs is saved, and then click “Relaunch”:

Relaunch Chrome
Relaunch Chrome
Relaunch Chrome

4. Name your windows

Anywhere in the top of the window, in the area next to the tabs, right-click (or control-click) and select “Name Window…”:

Right-click the tab bar and choose “Name Window”
Right-click the tab bar and choose “Name Window”
Right-click the tab bar and choose “Name Window”

This will give you a little popup dialog box to set that window’s name:

Typing a name for this window
Typing a name for this window
Type a name for this window

Do that for all your windows!

Window menu showing useful window names
Window menu showing useful window names
The finished product

Tips

Name each window so it’s easy to know what does and doesn’t belong there.

The dock will show window names when you mouse over the thumbnails
The dock will show window names when you mouse over the thumbnails
The dock will show window names when you mouse over the thumbnails

Bonus: use “Tab Grouping” to label your windows

One more thing!

The Window menu now shows window names, but there’s still a problem: the windows themselves don’t show their own names! So when you’re cycling through windows, it can take a moment to recognize them.

The window doesn’t show its name

This can be solved using an existing feature in Chrome called “Tab Grouping”. Just right-click on the first tab and select “Add Tab to New Group”:

You can make a new “Group” for a tab

Now type in the window’s name, and a label will appear to the left of the first tab. You can also select a distinct color if you like.

Label the group to see a static label in the window

(Note that if you close that “grouped” tab, you’ll lose the label and have to add it again. I usually have at least one tab that’s basically permanent in each window, for instance a primary Google Doc for that area of work. For my “Temp” window, I just keep a “New Tab” as my first tab and never close it.)

Independent programmer, chatterbox. http://techno-social.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store