Manually Restore the Last Browsing Session in Safari on Mac OS X

Jul 8, 2010 - 8 Comments

Safari icon Safari for Mac includes the ability to manually restore your last web browsing session, this is helpful if you want to get back to where you were before a session ended or closed. Unlike Firefox and Chrome, Safari won’t prompt you with the little “restore” button though. While modern versions of OS X will attempt to restore the last browsing session if the Safari app was quit or crashed, old versions of the Mac do not do that, but whether old or new versions of Safari and OS X are in use, you can always manually choose to restore the last browsing session and windows that were closed even without a crash or quit.

Here’s how to restore all the web sites you were last looking at in Safari. This is aimed at Mac Safari but it actually works in Safari for Windows too.

  • From Safari, open the History menu
  • Select “Reopen All Windows From Last Session”
  • Wait as Safari relaunches windows and tabs, this can take a few minutes if you had many websites open in your last session

You’ll notice there are other options to re-open windows in Safari too, like the last closed window.

Using the Restore Options for Safari browsing sessions in Mac OS X

That’s it! This is fast, easy, and works in all versions of Safari on Mac OS X.

I use browser session restoration religiously as an easy way to get back to what I was doing, if I forgot an important tab, or just need to get back to a prior Safari browsing session with windows from sites that are now closed.

While it kind of peeves me that Safari doesn’t include a preference option to include the prompt to restore session upon launch like Chrome and Firefox does, it’s not like it’s inconvenient to pull down the menu option. Plus now that OS X will restore sessions of apps in general, that restore button may not even be necessary. But if you need to, just remember the History menu has what you need to reopen those closed sessions in OS X.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Tips & Tricks


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  1. Curly says:

    I’m with AndroidDoctor, the option is greyed out! Frustrating. On my old Windows Chrome it would re-open automatically, no prompting required.

    • Gwen says:

      One important caveat with Safari, if it is greyed out it might be because you closed the window rather than simply quitting Safari. If you close the window first, with all your tabs open, and then quit Safari, Safari will consider that last state, with nothing open, as your last session. A bit dumb, I know, but I learned this the hard way. And hardly anyone answering the question about restoring sessions will mention this. They will always direct you to the pulldown menu, which frankly is obvious.

      • Ceri Davies says:

        Thanks Gwen, that is exactly it, I need to exit with Option-Q or Quit, not hit the red “close” button and the “Open All Previous Windows” option is not greyed out. In fact, I just tried this and it reopened my previous tabs by default. Also note that I do not have the option of “Safari Opens with” in my General Preferences Tab, I’m assuming that was removed at some point, since I see it in earlier posts on this topic. (I’m running a MacBook Pro – El Capitan)

      • Ellen says:

        YES! Gwen, thank you! This is it! I need to not close the window and just go straight to Quit, or not quit at all if I shut down. Best answer.

  2. AndroidDoctorr says:

    What if it’s grayed out?

  3. Nathaniel says:

    This does not work in Windows version of Safari. There is no History menu – History is in the Bookmarks folder.

    • rainbowamazon says:

      It does work in Windows. You have to click on the Settings icon, select Show Menu Bar, then your History Menu will appear. Then do as the above post describes. Voila!

  4. Julie says:

    Thanks for that tip – that’s been bugging me too, as I often have a number of tabs open at the same time and have been laboriously making bookmarks for each of them before quitting Safari. That would be a great update though, to include a prompt upon next launch.

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