Dock Websites in Hangouts-like Panels in Chrome

Dock Websites in Hangouts-like Panels in Chrome

Dock Websites in Hangouts-like Panels in Chrome

Multi-tasking extends beyond docking two app windows side-by-side. When you want to watch a YouTube video while browsing and save screen space, you need to use floating windows.

Today, we’ll discuss an extension that enhances this floating window/picture-in-picture behavior. Panel Tabs is an extension that allows you to open web pages in small panels docked to the bottom of the screen. This will even work if you’ve switched from Chrome to another app. If you’ve used the previous version of the Google Hangouts extension or if you use Hangouts chat in Gmail, you’re already familiar with panels. Panel Tabs utilizes this experimental feature in Chrome to display web pages.

Dock Websites in Hangouts-like Panels in Chrome

We will discuss enabling it shortly, but first, let’s explore how it works and the various ways you can utilize Panel Tabs.

How it Works

Panel Tabs utilizes an experimental feature called Panels to showcase web pages. It has proven to be stable in testing. The extension loads the entire webpage in a small window. For optimal use, the website should have a responsive design. Alternatively, the mobile version of the website (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) can be converted to a panel.

Once enabled, a panel can be minimized, closed, or moved anywhere on the screen. Resizing is also possible.

To maximize a minimized panel, simply mouse over to the bottom of the screen to bring up the task bar.

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Dock Websites in Hangouts-like Panels in Chrome

Use cases:

  • Watch a YouTube video while browsing in Chrome
  • Have a reference web page open when you’re writing or coding (Panel Tabs run OS-wide, so you don’t always need to be working in Chrome)
  • Use it with a note-taking app like Keep to jot things down quickly
  • If you’re obsessed with email or social media, you can dock Gmail, Facebook, or Twitter to the bottom of the screen

How to Enable Panel Tabs

The developer has simplified the process of enabling and using Panel Tabs. You just need to follow a few instructions, and the extension handles the rest.

Dock Websites in Hangouts-like Panels in Chrome

After downloading the extension, click the icon to begin. You’ll see an installation wizard. Enable “Panels” from the Flags section, and then click “Open the Flags Page”. Here, enable the “Panels” flag and restart Chrome. You can then test Panel Tabs by clicking a button.

How to Use Panel Tabs

To turn a web page into a panel, open the page and click the Panel Tabs extension icon. From the drop-down menu, select “Pop this tab into a panel.”

Dock Websites in Hangouts-like Panels in Chrome

That’s it. You’ve got a panel now. You can create more in the same way and if you want to convert a panel back to a Chrome tab, hit the extension button and click “Put back”.

If you’re using this regularly, dealing with the extension menu can be tiring. That’s why it’s great that the extension supports keyboard shortcuts. The default shortcuts are Cmd+Shift+9 to create a panel from a tab and Cmd+Shift+0 to put it back.

Dock Websites in Hangouts-like Panels in Chrome

To change the defaults, go to the Extensions page, scroll down, and click on Keyboard Shortcuts. From there, you can change the defaults in the Panel Tabs section.

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What Will You Do with It?

What are your plans for Panel Tabs? Which websites will you dock to the bottom of your screen? Share with us in the comments.

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