Emojis Save the Day (Again)

In the beginning, there were bookmarks, and I didn’t learn how to use them. Mostly I created bookmarks by accident, and they would appear on some space-sucking bar in the browser UI. Then I figured out how to make that bar disappear, and it was good.

Many years passed this way. Browser tabs became a thing.

For years I used the “tabs are my reading list” technique of web browsing. This was problematic, because I also used the “tabs are for everything else, too” method. Even though Chrome shrank all the tabs, I would end up with too many, and lots of tabs hidden, even on a 4K monitor. I couldn’t find anything, and my reading list would get lost among everything else.1

If I accidentally hit the “quit Chrome” key combo, then I was in for a bad day. Invariably that would happen on a day when I was about to get around to reading that tab that had been waiting for months.

Then, one day, Chrome added tab groups, and I was excited. Tabs groups could help organize my life…or not. Initially, they weren’t very good, and they seemed to be taking up even more precious space on my tab bar. But then in a fit of inspiration, tab groups became collapsible. This made me happy.

But…naming things is hard, and long names for tab groups just take up too much space. The answer? Emojis. They’re great, which is why the youngest generation uses them exclusively for communication.

Pro Tip™: If you can’t find the perfect emoji, a short (≤ 3 characters) acronym can work. Even better, find a silly emoji that’s vaguely related to the topic through alliteration or some other smart-sounding literary thing, and create a new mnemonic that you can share with the world.

Here’s an example:

Awesomer Tab Groups

  • stuff saved for later2 3
  • some monitoring stuff I need to look at periodically
  • some video-related stuff I was researching
  • some postgres docs I’ve needed a bunch lately (that’s an elephant)
  • all things trolleybus

And then I had collapsible tab groups with emoji labels, and it was good.


  1. Chrome’s “Search Tabs” feature is pretty great, but its utility is limited by the fact that I forget it’s there. 

  2. Yes, I’m aware of the new(ish?) “Reading List” feature, and I’m trying to train myself to use it. 

  3. That thing is called a “floppy disk.” Google it.