Suspending Browser Tabs for Memory Conservation

Update: As of February 2021, The Great Suspender is no longer available due to the releases being overtaken by a malacious owner.  Modern Chrome versions are said to have better memory management anyway, so you may find a separate extension unnecessary.

If you’re like me and have upwards to 30-50 browser tabs open at the same time, you may notice that your computer becomes sluggish.  In my case this was because all the tabs still consume memory even though I might not need them for some period of time.  I still like to keep some tabs that I might need to quickly refer back to later.

I recently found a Chrome extension called The Great Suspender that automatically replaces the tab with a placeholder page after a certain period of time, optionally with a screenshot of what the page looked like.

An example of a suspended tab

With the click of the mouse anywhere in the placeholder, the actual page reloads.

The extension also allows you to manually suspend tabs if you know you won’t be needing the tab for a while, and whitelist certain pages or sites to never suspend automatically.

I’ve found I can save a few GB of memory, which could be nearly 20% of my total system memory.  Every bit counts!

Google Chrome

Google Chrome

Google is releasing a beta of its browser application, Google Chrome, finally.  The scheduled release date is tomorrow (Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008).

Google Chrome uses the WebKit rendering engine, which is currently being used in Apple’s Safari browser among others.  I personally prefer Safari’s speed at loading pages, and I hope Google Chrome using the same engine can achieve same or better speeds than Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Also it seems like each tab in Google Chrome will be run in its own process, which should make memory leaks easier to manage (well hopefully there won’t be any to start off with).

The Google Chrome team put together a comic book outlining the development for this browser.  Very interesting read.

Google Blogoscoped has a post on Google Chrome quickly listing a few features and also another post with screenshots of the new browser.  Google’s official blog also has a post mainly for announcing Google Chrome’s release date.  Yet another post on All Things Digital discusses Google’s tactical moves invading the browser market.

Google Calendar and Google Earth

Another beautiful [beta] Web 2.0 application brought to you by Google. Multiple views, multiple calendars, sharing calendars, super-cool interface (even cooler than Gmail). Of course it doesn’t match with the flying abilities of Google Earth, but it does set the standard for calendar applications on the browser.

Go to Google Calendar.


Oh I might as well mention, you can configure Google Earth to be a flight-simulator type program, and fly around anywhere in the world. You really get the feeling that you’re really in the cockpit if you try flying low in 3D-ized areas (such as the North Shore Mountains and Howe Sound).

Flying in Google Earth
Flying around Vancouver in Google Earth

Writely – The Web Word Processor

Writely Screenshot
While I was reading some stuff on the internet about Web 2.0, I came across Writely – The Web Word Processor. “Simple & secure document collaboration and publishing.”

Writely Word Processing Screen
Writely Word Processing Screen

This is no ordinary word processor. It’s not even a downloadable program. Writely is an online word processor that you can access from anywhere through any compatible web browser (IE 5.5+, Firefox 1.0.6+, Mozilla 1.4+) that has cookies and Javascript enabled.

Document from MS Word
Document from MS Word

Although it is run on the web browser, the editor is WYSIWYG and can support the most common formatting (bold, italics, underline, lists, tables) and even includes a spell check. You can also upload an existing file (.doc, .txt, etc) or even email in an attachment to Writely to add it into your document list.

Revision history
Revision history

However, editing a document is not even half of what Writely does. The feature that I am personally interested in is the online collaboration feature. With Writely, you can add “collaborators” who can login and edit the same document even at the same time! For students, I think this feature would help with group projects that require collaboration: writing presentation scripts, having one central location for storing research from all the group members, etc. Writely saves all the revisions each time you edit, so that you can go back and see what has been edited at each revision.

After editing the document, Writely also offers many ways to export the document into common file formats such as .doc and .pdf (the .pdf export may become a premium-only feature after Writely goes out of beta). Additionally, you can also publish it into a webpage hosted by Writely, so that others that you give the link to can view the document. Another feature is publishing to a blog. The blogging feature only works with certain hosts/blogging software, and allows you to export your document directly to your blog.

To organize your documents on Writely, the system is much like Gmail. You can “star” documents, and also create “tags” for them (similar to the Stars and Labels of Gmail).

Although Writely is still in beta, the basic word processor that they have is very sophisticated. In time along with updates to the current generation of web browsers, I would assume that more features would be added and existing features tweaked, to this already wonderful service. I suggest that you register yourself a free account and see for yourself the features that Writely offers.