For the past few days, I’ve been trying out a string of different session managers for Google Chrome. For those unfamiliar with what a session manager is, it is basically a way that allows you to create groups of websites that are then opened simultaneously. This is a very useful tool if you have a pattern for your browsing. Perhaps over breakfast you read the news, your email, a few online comics, check sports scores, and of course, Facebook. At work, you have different websites you read (the company email, your online contacts, and again, Facebook). At home, after work, you might check out YouTube, some TV websites, your email, and yes, again… Facebook.
Each of those websites – without a session manager – needs to be opened individually, which can be a bit time consuming, and not nearly as efficient as it could be. Open your web browser; open the first website; open a new tab; open the next website; repeat until finished. With a session manager, you simply need to open the correct session, and all the pages in that session load at once. I’ve tried a few different session managers for Google Chrome. The first was simply called Session Manager, which was very simple, but didn’t have a lot of features. The second was Session Buddy, which had more features, but was actually a bit of a pain to use, compared to the speed and simplicity of Session Manager. After a couple of days of trial and error, I finally settled on FreshStart, my favorite (by far) of the session managers I’ve looked at, which I’ll talk about in this article.
First, FreshStart is incredibly easy to use. When you first install FreshStart, it doesn’t have any sessions. To create a session, you have two options. You can open all the websites you want to include in a session, click the FreshStart icon and click the Save button (after giving your new session a descriptive name). It’s pretty simple. You can also import a session. To do so, you’ll need to have a session that has previously been exported. You could also “create” a list that matches the syle. It’s pretty simple:
Name: Your Session’s Name
Title: This is the website title
The pattern continues after this with as many Title and Url combinations as you have websites.
Once a session has been created, accessing it from the FreshStart toolbar icon is simple. Click the icon, then mouse down to the session and click it. That’s it! It will open a new window with the websites in their own tabs.
It’s also possible to edit a session, even after you’ve saved it. If you find that you never read one of the websites, simply click the FreshStart toolbar icon, then hover over the session you wish to modify. You’ll see three buttons appear on the right side, one for exporting the session, the second for editing it, and the final for deleting it. Click the Edit icon and you’ll see all the sites currently saved in that session, plus any websites currently open. You can either add new sites to your session, or remove sites currently saved in the sesion, simply by checking or unchecking the checkbox.
Finally, on the FreshStart options page is the ability to enable crash recovery. This autosaves your windows and tabs every few minutes (five minutes is the default). You can also change the date format used, to either dd/mm/yyyy, mm/dd/yyyy or yyyy-mm-dd, whichever is your preference.
As I mentioned at the start, FreshStart is – at least to me – a perfect session manager. It’s fast to create a new session and to restore an old one. I like the auto-save feature, and the ability to modify a session on the fly, by adding to it or subtracting from it, is a great option. The interface – which is accessed almost entirely from the pop-up window from the toolbar icon, is easy to use, and looks nice. It doesn’t integrate as nicely into Google Chrome as does Session Buddy, and it’s not as simplified as Session Manager, but on the whole, I feel it’s a much better choice.