Chrome 110

Background tabs will be automatically deleted in Chrome 110. Here’s how to put a stop to it.

“Memory Saver” will delete and reload idle tabs, potentially erasing your tab state.

Everyone should be aware: Chrome will begin to perform actions on your open tabs. Chrome 110 is now available for download, and it includes a new “Memory Saving” feature that will be activated by default on Windows, macOS, and Linux. We first reported on this when it appeared in the Chrome nightly build “Canary Channel” in December, but the feature is now available to everyone.

Chrome has a reputation for consuming RAM, and Google appears to believe that the best way to counteract this is to automatically close your tabs when they are “inactive.” According to Google’s explanation of the feature, “When you discard a tab, its title and favicon remain in the tab strip, but the page itself is gone, just as if the tab had been closed normally. If the user returns to that tab, the website will immediately reload.” This strategy, according to Google, would lower Chrome’s memory usage by “up to 40%,” which sounds wonderful as long as it doesn’t disrupt anything or cause users to lose the state of their page.

According to Google’s support website, the following use scenarios are not supported by this feature:

Certain computer settings and activities may prevent tab deactivation.

Audio or video that is active (playback or calls)
Page notifications on the screen
Downloads in progress
Forms that have been partially completed
Devices that are linked (USB or Bluetooth)

You can see how it all works by putting “chrome:/discards” into the address bar, which will open the developer Interface to control the new tab discard feature. The “discards” tab displays the current status of all your tabs, and the right “actions” column includes a “urgent discard” option that allows you to directly remove any tab for testing purposes. After you’ve blown up some of your favourite sites to see how they react, I highly recommend checking out the “Graph” tab here (a gif is included in the picture above), which is an association graph of processes and tabs that animates and moves about when you use Chrome.

Using this website, you can try to deduce Chrome’s tab discard behaviour. Visible foreground tabs cannot be deleted manually—you must go to another tab, put a window in front of Chrome, or minimise Chrome to do so. That’s probably how the automatic trash feature works as well. Pages that are seriously unsaved could be a major issue: If you type a lot of text into WordPress and then try to dismiss the tab with the standard close button, instead of closing, you’ll get a pop-up regarding unsaved changes, asking if you want to leave the site and potentially saving you a lot of work. Chrome’s new tab discard feature will delete your unsaved text as if it were nothing. Some sites, such as Gmail, handle this effectively by following Google’s advice and automatically saving your draught text when the tab is sent to the background.

How to Disable It

The good news is that you have complete control over all of this. The Memory Saver consumer controls may be found at ‘chrome:/settings/performance,’ or for the UI-inclined, go to the menu, then “Additional tools,” then “Performance.” You can disable the feature completely or add sites to a list titled “always keep these sites active.” On the help page, Google provides thorough instructions for how the exclusion parsing works, but it supports everything you’d expect, such as subdirectories, wildcards, and specific subdomains. Personally, I believe that the Ars Technica WordPress instance should be added because losing unsaved article text is every writer’s worst fear.

Aside from the memory-saving feature, this version of Chrome has a “Energy Saving” mode for laptops, which will restrict tab power usage by lowering video and scrolling frame rates if your battery is low. That feature’s controls will be found on the same “performance” tab.