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

Chrome_Tab_Sync_Master_Splash_01

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:

chrome_tab_sync_nexus_9_login

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.

chrome_tab_sync_nexus_9_sync_settings

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.

chrome_tab_sync_nexus_9_recent_tabs

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.

chrome_tab_sync_nexus_9_history

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:

chrome_tab_sync_settings_chrome_os

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.

      • Bill DeWall

        it still don’t work google fucked it all up i remember when this shit actually used to work not it does fuckall
        i remeber before you could hit one button and all the tabe open on one device would open on the other now that option is completley gone now you can only open 1 tab at a time but you canlt even do that of course because it doesn’t even fucking work at all now, i have 42 tabs open on my phone i go to my tablet and hit recent tabs, it shows the phone i hit it and under there is only shows one fucking tab that i closes 3 days ago and not single fucking one of my currently open tabs even shows up at all i go to the phone i reload all the tabs and it does fucking nothing, it only makes some of them show up but unly under history and not under recent tabs recent tabs still shows 1 tab that was closed days ago , you used to be able to hit one thing and have every tab open on one device open up at the same time on the other, google just fucking ruins everything and turns all their products and services into pure fucking shit , just like they have done with youtube , the new notification system in youtube is fucking garbage and forces you open a new fucking window and go to the video for every single comment mention insteda of being able to just read and reply to comment replies from the bell drop down , everyone at that fucking company is is an off the spectrum autistic retard

    • Paul Hilling

      Yes, very frustrating; I am foiled at every turn in my attempts to do what web pages all over the Internet tell me I can do. I have 40 tabs open on my Android right now and want to open all of them on my PC, close them on the Android, and then read them or save them into Bookmarks. I keep reading webpages that tell me how easy it is to see those tabs on my PC but every time I try, I hit the same dead end. Chrome history on my PC shows ONLY THE LAST FEW SITES visited on the Android under that device in the history list (same thing for recently visited). Other sites visited on the Android a bit less recently are MERGED with the ones visited on the PC making it totally impractical to sort thru days or weeks of history looking for tabs I do not even remember as being on the phone (not to mention that I do not want to see history for tabs closed on the Android, I just want to see the tabs that are OPEN, like all these websites keep telling me). Last time I had too many tabs open and wanted to clear them off of the Android, I opened each tab, waited for it to load and then was able to see it in History on my PC but the sites do not show up right away and some had to be opened on the Android more than once. This also could be solved by allowing the ability to bookmark all tabs but Android does not have that feature like on PC–very aggravating indeed!