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Restore Windows When Quitting and Re-opening Apps

Last updated December 22, 2011 - Send Feedback

Status: workflow efficiency and computing is preserved by disabling this feature on a system wide basis. However, reboots are frustratingly slow, as the system refused to open the desktop until all prior applications are relaunched (too easy to forget to uncheck the "reopen" checkbox when rebooting, system does not respect the choice permanently).

Yet another ill-conceived feature with OS X Lion: re-opening windows that were previously open.

This sounds useful, and it is for selected programs, but it generates extra work to avoid a rapidly escalating visual mess and performance hit with some programs.

For example, double-click a JPEG file to see it in Preview. Quit Preview, then do it again— now you have two windows open. Now do it again and you have three windows open. This forces one to constantly close windows, not to mention rapidly declining performance as more and more files have to be read from the disk and displayed. If multiple files happen to be on a slow network drive (such as iDisk), watch out— it could take minutes to complete, even though the desire is for some local file.

As another example, I arrange my Safari tabs and bookmarks so I can hit a button and get just what I want. I do not want whatever random pages were open the last time I was in Safari!

Disabling resume system-wide

One viable solution to this problem seems to be disable the feature entirely; in typical Apple fashion there is no per-application choice, just a system wide on/off setting. This lack of flexibility makes the feature worthless to me.

How to disable the Mac OS X Lion system-wide “restore windows” feature
How to disable the Mac OS X Lion system-wide “restore windows” feature

Disabling on a per-application basis

For this, you’ll need to find the name of the application’s state file, which is in the folder ~/Library/Saved Application State — in the Finder, use the Go => Go To Folder command to type in that file path.

The folder that opens contains the state for various applications; you’ll need to dig around to find the file name for the one of concern.

How to disable the Mac OS X Lion system-wide “restore windows” feature
Use cmd-shift-G (Go To Folder) to open the Saved Application State folder

Open Terminal, then issue the following command, replacing com.apple.Safari with the appropriate file name:

defaults write com.apple.Safari NSQuitAlwaysKeepsWindows -bool false

To re-enable, simply specify true instead of false.


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