Add a Spotlight-like Keyboard Launcher to Chrome


If you thought my extension overload was a bit too much, you should look at how many Chrome tabs and windows I have open. But I’m sure I’m no anomaly here. Yes, Chrome is a RAM guzzler, but at this point, we’re at its mercy. Because a lot of what we do is on the web. Work, communication, entertainment – all of it. That means lots of Chrome tabs and windows.

If you’ve crossed the threshold for tab overload and have decided to turn into the skid, you’re going to need help organizing and making your way through all of those tabs. Today we’ll talk about two Chrome extensions that take the concept of keyboard launchers (like Spotlight in OS X and Launchy for Windows) and apply them to finding open tabs and searching through your history and bookmarks.

What am I Talking About, Exactly?

If you’re not familiar with keyboard launchers, it’s like this. You press a keyboard shortcut and a text field comes up. Here, you type something. A domain name, search term, anything. It depends on the keyboard launcher in question.

Keyboard shortcuts are awesome: Get our Ultimate Guide to Keyboard Shortcuts were we list no more than 15 really important keyboard shortcuts for leading apps and services. When you’re trying to be productive, each second matters.

Today we’ll talk about two Chrome extensions that will let you search through all your open tabs across all the windows and switch to them instantly. Another one will let you do the same for history and bookmarks and of course, launching websites.


Vimium is the hacker’s browser. It replicates Vim, a text editor for coders. But you don’t need to care about any of that to use Vimium as a keyboard launcher (and more).

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Vimium will let you scroll web pages, navigate to and click on links, open links in the background, and more. You should explore some of that on your own – you might just fall in love with the hacker’s way of navigating the web. But today, we’re here to talk about the keyboard launcher part of Vimium.

Search Through All Open Tabs

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Vimium has three shortcuts that will bring up launchers for you. Vimium calls it Vomnibox, you know, like Chrome’s Omnibox. They’re as follows:

  • O: Open URL, bookmark, or history entry
  • Shift + O: Open URL, bookmark, history entry, in a new tab
  • Shift + T: Bring up tab switcher

It’s the third one that’s my favorite. Shift + T brings up a switcher with a list of all open tabs. You’ll have 6 tabs listed here even before you start typing. Type the name of the tab or website to search. It will usually be the first result so press Enter and you’ll be on that tab, just like that. If it’s not the first option, use the arrow keys to get there.

Search for Bookmarks and History

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Another really useful feature is searching from bookmarks and history. Usually you need to go through multiple menus to get to that search field.

The Shift + O option brings it all to where you are. Type your query, navigate to the result and press Enter to open the result in a new tab.

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TabLight is where I first came across this idea of searching through open tabs but in my experience it falls short with stability. One of the reasons is that the default shortcut interferes with Mac’s Open functionality.

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If Vimium’s features are getting in your way, give TabLight a try. But before you can use it, you’ll need to go to the Extensions page, scroll down to the bottom, click on Keyboard Shortcuts and change the keyboard shortcut for TabLight.

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Are You Stuck in Tab Overload?

So, how many Chrome tabs and windows do you have open right now? Share your misery and laziness with us in the comments below.

Last updated on 02 February, 2022

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