Sync Browser Sessions Between Multiple Computers in Google Chrome! For the most part, Chrome’s built in syncing makes it simple to transition from one computer to another. You can save your bookmarks, extensions, apps, theme, and browser preferences to your Google Account so that they are available no matter what computer you’re using. What’s missing? Sync open tabs between multiple computers. Here’s how to do it…
Sync Browser Sessions
Initially developed as a way to allow you to keep your bookmarks in sync across all your Chrome installs, synced data in Chrome now allow you to also keep themes, extensions, apps, preferences, etc synced across all your computers. One curious omission is the ability to save a session/open tabs across computers. Google is currently developing this and it’s already available in the Dev, Canary, and Chromium Channel builds…. you simply have to enable it.
What’s a Chrome Channel?
Most people simply install the latest version of the “stable” Chrome channel from http://www.google.com/chrome. This is the most stable version of Chrome available and the best choice for most users; I’ll discuss later on how you can accomplish tab syncing with this version of Chrome in a minute. For now let’s focus on using Chrome’s built in tab syncing ability. In order to do this you need something other than the stable channel. To view your options visit Chromium.org’s release channels.
- Stable channel: This channel has gotten the full testing and blessing of the Chrome test team, and is the best bet to avoid crashes and other issues. It’s updated roughly every two-three weeks for minor releases, and every 6 weeks for major releases.
- Beta channel: If you are interested in seeing what’s next, with minimal risk, Beta channel is the place to be. It’s updated every week roughly, with major updates coming ever six weeks, more than a month before the Stable channel will get them.
- Dev channel: Want to see what’s happening quickly, then you want the Dev channel. The Dev channel gets updated once or twice weekly, and it shows what we’re working on right now. There’s no lag between major versions, whatever code we’ve got, you will get. While this build does get tested, it is still subject to bugs, as we want people to see what’s new as soon as possible.
- Canary build: Canary builds are the bleeding edge. Released daily, this build has not been tested or used, it’s released as soon as it’s built. Because there’s no guarantee that it will even run in some cases, it uses it’s own profile and settings, and can be run side by side another Chrome channel. By default, it also reports crashes and usage statistics to Google (you can disable this on the download page).
Enable Syncing Sessions with Chrome (see updates below)
Once you’re on the Beta, Dev, or Canary channel, follow these steps to enable browser tab/session sync:
- Open a new tab (CTRL-T)
- Type “about:flags” in the address bar (without the quotes around it) and hit enter
- On the newly displayed page look for “Enable syncing open tabs”
- Click the enable link and the close and relaunch Chrome so the changes take effect
- Enable it by clicking on the wrench in the top right hand side of the browser, selecting “Options”, “Personal Stuff”, and then “Customize” under the first section. Alternatively, open a new tab and type in chrome://settings/syncSetup in the address bar.
- Enable the new setting and you’re all done!
Enable Syncing Sessions with Chrome Extensions
If you’re not ready to just into the wild world of non-Stable channels you can still have the ability to sync your open tabs by using one a Chrome Extension.
FreshStart: The most widely used extension for tab Syncing is FreshStart – Cross Browser Session Manager. FreshStart will allow you to save many “sessions” of open tabs and have them sync between computers. It does this by creating bookmark folders of your open tabs (which by the way of Chrome automatic syncing of bookmarks are already synchronized between your computers if you have it enabled). Since they are simply bookmarks, you can edit your sessions, import/export them, etc.
Download FreshStart via the Chrome webstore
TabCloud: Not as widely used in the Chrome world, but perhaps a more powerful solution is TabCloud. TabCloud is available for Chrome and FireFox. It’s also available as an app for Android, iPad, and iPhone. It will REALLY enable you to share open tab sessions across many devices. The only downside: it seems to use a 3rd party to do the session exchange. It’s not really clear from the extension page or the developers website but this statement “Optionally use bookmarks to save tabs instead of external service” might raise the eyebrow of the more privacy conscious of us.
Download TabCloud via the Chrome webstore, or grab the FireFox, Android, etc versions from the TabCloud website.
The latest Google Chrome beta concludes sync’d tabs: http://chrome.blogspot.com/2012/04/all-your-tabs-accessible-everywhere.html
Paul Salmon says
This is a great guide. I use Google Chrome as my main browser on several computers, so the above steps will greatly help keep my data synced between all the computers.
Christopher Larson says
This is nice and all, except that the open tabs sync from chrome://flags doesn’t actually do anything. Synced tabs get stored at google, but it neither automatically updates open tabs on other machines with them, nor does it add an ability to browse tabs from other machines the way firefox does.
I find it deceiving that you mention Google Chrome can sync open tabs without an extension, when it doesn’t actually work: meaning you never actually tested it, which means your site is probably sloppily done if you don’t actually try what you’re telling others to do. Google Chrome tab sync in about:flags doesn’t actually work yet, not in any build.
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