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Browser features

Like other browsers, Polypane has a bunch of regular browser/application features.

History and suggestions

Polypane keeps a history and will show suggestions in the address bar based on that history. Right click the navigation buttons to get an overview of previous pages. Middle click (or cmd + click) any URL to open it in a new tab.

When typing in the address bar, Polypane will match each fragment in the url so if you only remember part of a url, you can use that to find it. Here too you can middle click (or cmd + click) any URL to open it in a new tab. Pressing Esc while in the address bar will revert to the current URL.

You can clear the history by going to the Edit menu, then "Clear stored data" and selecting "Clear History".

Opening web pages

Like other browsers, web pages can be visited by typing or copying their address into the address bar.

Polypane also supports opening URLs and files in a number of different ways. You can start Polypane with a URL as the first argument to open that url: $ polypane Or on MacOs you can use $ open -a "Polypane".

You can drag URLs from other browsers, or HTML files from disk into Polypane to open them. Polypane is also associated with HTML and HTM files as a viewer, so you will find it in the "open with..." menu on right click.

Lastly, Polypane registers as a HTML viewer on operating systems, so will automatically come up in lists of browsers provided by the OS, and you can even set it as your default browser.

If you're coming from another browser, the easiest way is to use the browser extension for Chrome, Edge and Firefox. Get them on the Downloads page.


Tabs in Polypane behave slightly differently from other browsers, in that tabs are not held in memory due to speed and resource limitations, so will reload if you switch to them. This makes them more like projects or bookmarks, since keeping tabs open does not impact memory usage. Rather than opening tabs to search or look up documentation, you can use the Browse panel to keep your tab in view while working on your site.

Interacting with tabs work like you expect in other browsers. Middle clicking or ctrl+clicking will open a link in a new tab, and links with target="_blank" will similarly open in a new tab (you can right-click links to open them in the Browse panel).

Click and drag tabs in the tab bar to re-order them. You can right-click the + button in the tab bar to select the layout to use. This choice is automatically remembered for other new tabs.

To quickly close a tab, middle-mouse click on it. You can also middle-mouse click the tab bar to open a new tab.

Double clicking on the tab bar will maximize or unmaximize the application.

Customizing your new tab setup

By default, the new tab will show three panes with the getting started page shown in them, with a closed panel that opens on the right. But you can edit this by configuring your current tab the way you like, and then go to the Polypane (on Mac) or "File" (Window and Linux) menu and click "Set Current Tab as Homepage".

The new tab will keep all panes, overlays, the current url, panel and other settings, so you can configure it just the way you like it.

Basic Auth

Polypane supports websites that have HTTP Basic Auth or Digest Auth configured. When you fill in the login details for these sites, they will be remembered for the duration of your session. If you want Polypane to remember them permanently, check the "remember this" checkmark. They will be remembered for a specific URL.

The username and password will be encrypted and stored only on your computer. To remove them, go to the Edit menu, "Clear Stored Data" and then select "Clear Saved Auths"

Invalid or self signed certificates

For localhost, Polypane will silently allow self-signed certificates. On any other domain or for any other certificate error (like expired or the wrong host) Polypane will show a dialog showing you the url and the error and ask you if it should still open the page. It will do this once per certificate per session.

Disable Content-Security-Policy headers (CSP)

To disable CSP, go to the Edit menu and select 'Disable Content-Security-Policy headers'.

CSP settings on some sites prevent Polypane from injecting scripts needed for different features. When Polypane detects CSP issues it will show you a popup explaining the issue, and you can turn off CSP from there.

You should only disable CSP if you know what you're doing, as it does have security implications.

Permission requests

Polypane supports permission requests, like those for location or media access. When a permission is requested, Polypane shows a popup that will let you accept or reject the permission request, and to optionally remember the choice for this url.

To clear saved permissions, select "Clear saved permissions" under "Clear saved data" in the Edit menu.

(geo)location API

To use the location API, you need to add a Google API key with the right permissions. To do this, add a text file called google-api-key (no extension) in the following folder:

  • Windows: %APPDATA%/Polypane/
  • macOS: ~/Library/Application Support/Polypane/
  • Linux: ~/.config/Polypane/

In the file, add your API key with quotes like so:


Any geolocation permission requests made without a Google API key available can only be disallowed or dismissed.

Logging into websites with SSO/oAuth/redirecting logins

SSO and oAuth logins like those of Google or Microsoft don't always work correctly when using multiple panes at the same time.

Using the full or focus layout usually works in these situations so login happens in a single pane. After you've logged in you can go back to multiple panes, because the session is shared between all panes.

Alternatively, you can also use the browse panel to log in.

Muting sounds

Polypane will allow sound in all panes by default. You can mute all panes, or limit sound to just the first pane, open the global settings (the top right button in the header) and select your prefered option under "mute".

Search in page

ctrl/cmd f lets you search across all panes. All occurences of your search term are highlighted in yellow with the current matched search term in orange. You can also see where on the page matches are found in the scrollbar.

in page search UI

Navigate through the search terms with the arrow buttons and toggle case sensitivity. While using search focus is locked into the UI so tabbing loops back. Pressing esc clears the UI and search.

Zoom pages in and out

Page zooming is an important part of Accessibility audits, for various WCAG success criteria your page needs to be able to zoom to 200% or to 400%. In Polypane you can zoom pages with ctrl/cmd alt +/-, or with the "Zoom web pages" option in the View menu.

page zoom UI

After zooming a page a magnifier with either a plus or minus will be visible in the address bar, and clicking that opens a UI that lets you zoom in, out or reset back to 100% again. Due to the way Chromium internals work that doesn't work per pane, but per origin, so zooming in happens in all panes and is remembered for each origin.

Managing the UI

Hiding the header

To make the most of the available space on your screen, you can choose to hide the header using shift ctrl/cmd h, or via the "View" menu under "Toggle Header"

Changing the text size

You can zoom the text size in and out by going to the "View" menu and selecting "Adjust Text Size". By default the text in the entire UI will be changed, but you can also choose to set the panel text size separately. Click "reset" to revert back to the default font sizes.

Use the sliders to zoom in or out. If you want a specific zoom level you can also change the percentage value manually or by using the arrow keys (like other number inputs, holding shift/cmd/alt will increment or decrement by 10/100/0.1 respectively).

Managing the Cache

Clearing your cache

Polypane adheres to caching rules of websites like other browsers. To clear your cache for a reload, press ctrl/cmd while clicking the reload button, or press shift ctrl/cmd r.

You can also right-click the reload button and select "Empty cache and reload", or use "Empty cache and reload" in the view menu.

Disable Cache

You can disable the cache in Polypane via the Edit menu using the "Disable cache" menu item. You can choose to set it to off, only for this session, or permanent.


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