- Jan 9, 2020
Microsoft plans to introduce a feature called Sleeping Tabs into the company's Microsoft Edge 87 web browser.The feature is designed to reduce the browser's resource usage by unloading background tabs automatically.
The feature is available as an experimental flag in the browser currently; you need Microsoft Edge 87 at least, which is currently available as a Canary channel version.
A total of three experimental flags are available that enable and customize the sleep mode of the browser:
Background tabs that are put to sleep use a light gray color of text to distinguish them from regular tabs that are not sleeping.
- Load edge://flags in the browser's address bar.
- Search for sleep; Edge should return three flags.
- Enable Sleeping Tabs (edge://flags/#edge-sleeping-tabs) -- The main preference. Set it to enabled to enable the sleep mode functionality in the browser.
- Enable immediate timeout for Sleeping Tabs (edge://flags/#edge-sleeping-tabs-immediate-timeout) --The optional setting bypasses the timeout setting to put background tabs into sleep mode immediately. If you don't want background tabs to be disabled after a very short period, several seconds, keep it disabled.
- Sleeping Tabs use observed site characteristics heuristics (edge://flags/#edge-sleeping-tabs-site-characteristics) -- The optional setting enables heuristics to identify sites that should not be put to sleep mode, e.g. those with notifications or background tasks such as video or audio playback.
- Restart the Edge web browser.
Hover over a tab to find out if it is sleeping. Edge displays "this tab is sleeping to save resources" if that is the case.
A click on the tab activates it again and restores it fully in the browser. The loading may take a bit longer if the tab is sleeping but it never took too long during tests. Mileage may vary depending on a number of parameters though.
The Sleeping Tabs feature is currently an experimental feature; this means that it may be introduced in a stable version of Microsoft Edge but that there is also the chance of it being pulled before it even reaches the stable version.
Firefox and Chrome users may use the Auto Tab Discard extension to unload tabs after a certain time of inactivity. The browsers support the automatic discarding of tabs, see our articles on Google's and Mozilla's implementation, but these unload tabs only in memory-critical situations.