When you never close tabs on your mobile Chrome browser

Photo by Tinh Khuong on Unsplash

Whenever I browse on my mobile I often open an interesting pages in Chrome and leave it for later. Usually the later never comes so I ended up with over 2500 open tabs in my mobile Chrome. Yes, it’s not a typo !!!

Recently I wanted to do some cleanup. I was on my desktop and wanted to quickly order useful urls into some categories and bookmark for later or throw away at all if not needed anymore. I realised that there is no handy way of exporting all the open tabs from Chrome. On desktop version of Chrome there is a “Bookmark All Tabs” feature when you right-click any of the open tabs in browser, but this does not exist in mobile version.

I wanted to share with you an easy way to work-around this limitation if you’re using an Android device.

You will need to install Android Dev Tools on your desktop and put your mobile device into Developer’s Mode.

How to do it, step by step:

1. Download an install Android Dev Tools.

We will need only adb application, but we will have to install the complete toolbox anyway. Personally, I found the easiest way to download an install the Android Studio, but you could also try the stand-alone sdk tool available from here if you scroll down.

When you have installed Android Studio on Mac, you will find adb in ~/Library/Android/sdk/platform-tools

Open this folder in bash.

2. Put your Android phone in Developer’s Mode and connect with a cable to your desktop. It’s better to connect straight instead using some USB hubs, because sometimes the device cannot be discovered by adb.
Here is an official instruction how to turn it on.
Also, you may want to turn on MTP configuration in “Select USB Configuration” menu as described here, otherwise adb may not find your device.

When you completed the two steps above, you should be able to discover your Android device with adb. Try this from bash in folder where the adb binary is located:

./adb devices -l

It should list your device, e.g:

List of devices attached
e8acbd80 device usb:336592896X product:OnePlus3 model:ONEPLUS_A3003 device:OnePlus3 transport_id:1

Chrome mobile has a feature to expose remote debugger on tcp socket which you can access from your desktop. The so called “legacy” debugging workflow is described in Chrome developers documentation.
It is called “legacy” because now there is more fancy way of debugging mobile Chrome using Chrome Dev Tools.
For our purpose however the “legacy” way is more useful because we get access to a bare text interface in JSON format which gives easy way to extract open tabs URLs.

In short, you need to execute:

./adb forward tcp:9222 localabstract:chrome_devtools_remote

Here is more info how it works. The above line makes adb forward any connections on localhost TCP port 9222 to the abstract socket named chrome_devtools_remote over USB.

Now, you should be able to browse Chrome remote API at: http://localhost:9222

The JSON with all open tabs info is at: http://localhost:9222/json/list

It looks like that:

JSON response

If you have JQ tool installed you could parse this JSON, extract only URLs and save in txt file like that:

curl http://localhost:9222/json/list | jq .[].url > mobile.tabs.txt

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