Sandboxing, a security measure used by Google Chrome, has the undesirable side effect of using additional RAM for each tab. A new feature that (mostly) solves the issue is now being rolled out.
Today, Google revealed two updates to the Chrome web browser. To save battery life, the Energy Saver function, which debuted with Chrome 108, restricts background activity and visual effects. The other adjustment is Memory Saver, which releases several background tabs to free up RAM. It has been in testing for some time, but it is now being made available to everyone.
On all mobile browsers, the behavior is the same as how background tabs operate. If you don’t use a tab for a long enough period of time, Chrome will clear it. This keeps the tab visible in the tab bar, but requires a reload when you click on it again. “Memory Saver mode frees up memory from tabs you aren’t currently utilizing so the active websites you are viewing have the smoothest possible experience,” Google stated in its release. This is especially helpful if you’re playing games or editing family videos while using other resource-intensive software. When you require them, any inactive tabs will be refreshed.
Similar functionality has been developed by numerous browser extensions over time, most notably “The Great Suspender,” which was removed from the Chrome Web Store in 2020 after the new owner introduced malware. The “Sleeping Tabs” function in Microsoft Edge is essentially identical to Chrome’s new Memory Saver.
It’s wonderful to see that desktop Chrome now has a background tabs control without the need for a third-party addon. If the Memory Saver isn’t yet visible, you might be able to manually activate it with a feature flag. When prompted, restart Chrome by going to chrome://flags/#battery-saver-mode-available (clicking the link won’t work; you must copy and paste it). Set the highlighted dropdown menu to “Enabled.” The settings page at chrome:/settings/performance may then appear; but, in my experience, the page remained blank even after I enabled the flag.