What to do when firefox for Mac doesn't restore (reopen) your tabs after you quit.

firefox tabs open

Did you just close firefox on you Mac only to restart it only to find it has failed to re-open your tabs? I'm sure you've already checked that firefox's settings are set to "show my windows and tabs from last time" (firefox>preferences>'when firefox starts:'), but you closed firefox and lost your tabs right? Thankfully I know why, and believe it or not it's by design (meaning it's intentional firefox behavior). Worry not, here's how to stop it happening again and just as important, to get you tabs back if you lost them:


First things first. How did firefox loose you tabs and why? In Mac OS X there is a clear distinction between a "window" and a "program". You no doubt will have noticed that you close windows with the red (X) button and that if you close all windows that doesn't mean the application (program) closes, normally it stays open. To close the program you need to go to file>quit (or hit apple-q). This is the same with firefox and can lead to confusion.

When first using firefox for Mac I had the tendency to close all windows before closing the program by clicking the red (X) button. The problem is when you close the windows, firefox isn't actually closing the program and so doesn't bother to remember your tabs (we'll it does, but more about that soon). So if you close all the windows with the red (x) button and then close firefox, you're effectively closing firefox with no tabs open. Therefore, in accordance with your wishes, firefox shows your "windows and tabs from last time" when it restarts. i.e. no windows or tabs whatsoever.

To get around this you should get in the habit of going to file>quit when all the tabs/windows you want to re-appear are still open/visible. This way, when firefox restarts, all your windows/tabs will re-open.

Now, if you make a mistake, you might be lucky. If you just accidentally closed a window full of useful tabs, then go to history>recently closed windows. That will bring all your <recently closed> windows (and thier tabs) back.

Hope that helps!

Posted in You too can (how to articles)