How to sync Chrome tabs across your phone, tablet, and computer

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Being able to take an existing tab and reopen it on another device is a beautiful thing that Chrome allows. All that is required is a Google account and devices with Chrome installed. Tabs are then able to be reopened on any phone, tablet, or computer. Chrome Tab Sync is handy in various situations that users will encounter. Whether it is because browsing abruptly stopped or viewing would be ideal on another device, Chrome Tab Sync provides users with a versatile option for moving tabs.

Hit the break for directions.

The first thing to do, regardless of the devices being used, is making sure that you are logged in. On an Android phone or tablet, there is a good chance that you are already logged in; however, just make sure by heading into the settings of Chrome and locating the appropriate account. Computers with Chrome installed all have the same menu button in the top right corner. There, select Settings and the sign-in option is the first item on the list. Users of Chrome OS devices have nothing to do in this area because the system requires a Google account. The most important thing to remember is that the same Google account will be needed on multiple devices.

Using a phone or tablet:

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The setup of Chrome Tab Sync for phones and tablets is identical because the Chrome app for both form factors does not differ. So the directions provided here, from a Nexus 9, will match any other Android device that has the latest version of the Chrome app. Head into the settings of Chrome and, along with adjusting everything else, select which account(s) will be synced or not.

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The items that can be synced by Chrome include Autofill, Bookmarks, History, Passwords, and Open tabs. If all of those sound appealing, go right ahead and choose Sync everything. The Open tabs option is necessary for Chrome Tab Sync because that is what gives Chrome the capability of identifying a tab from other devices. Also, choosing History can be useful as well because any page ever opened on any device will always be accessible.

Now everything is prepared for Chrome Tab Sync to work.

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Launching a new tab in the Chrome app will show the familiar Google page with search, recent visits, Bookmarks, and Recent tabs displayed. Plenty of options are provided but only Recent tabs is valuable (bottom right); however, the only way that it will actually be valuable is if tabs have been opened on other devices. With nothing else opened, there is nothing to see. You can also get to the recent tabs by tapping on the three dot menu at the top right and selecting Recent tabs.

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Every tab opened through Chrome on my Acer Chromebook 13 and HTC One (M8) can be seen above. To test the accuracy, just open a tab on another synced device and monitor the page. It should be updated within three seconds; the URL appears first and then refreshes with the link’s title. Select anything listed to see it mirrored just as it was before.

Using a computer:

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Getting everything setup on a computer, no matter the operating system, is almost identical to doing so on an phone or tablet. We can thank Google for making a pretty uniform experience between our devices. Underneath the menu button, select Settings and then find Advanced sync settings. Look familiar? That is because the same items were listed in the Chrome app! Yet again, Open tabs is necessary. Make sure that the check box is checked and save the settings.

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There are multiple approaches to viewing tabs on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook. The method that will take the most amount of time is opening the History page. That will show everything from open tabs to a full history from every device. The more efficient and sensible way to view these tabs is to find Recent Tabs after selecting the menu button. It keeps everything organized in a tight space rather than covering an entire page.

Simple enough, right? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.


About the Author: Justin Herrick

Born and raised in New Jersey, Justin is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University where he studied marketing with a focus on digital marketing. He's very talkative and enjoys discussing anything from technology and sports to video games and television. As for Justin's current device rotation, he carries around the Google Pixel and Nexus 9. In the rare case that his phone or tablet is not in his hand, he is either flicking through cards on his Moto 360 (2015) or typing away on the Microsoft Surface Book. Justin is patiently waiting for the day that Google replicates the Galaxy Nexus with modern day specifications.


  • chris

    “The setup of Chrome Tab Sync for phones and tablets is identical because the Chrome app for both form factors does not differ” – definitely not the same as I dont have a ‘sync’ option anywhere in settings… Note 3

  • pmad99

    It works well….. If you dont mind only being able to see your tabs and history from several hours or days ago…

  • Taro Toth

    how do i see all my tabs though? i usually have thirty or more tabs open on phone, just so i can go back to them later. but the recent tabs for my device only shows about 5 tabs.

    • Peter876

      I also have this issue. The sad part is you will have to visit each and every tab on your phone, and reload it. This is because android chrome only has the last few tabs you visited in memory. Once you reload all of those tabs they will appear in the recent tabs list on your laptop.