How-To Geek

Quick Tip: Save Windows and Tabs When Restarting Firefox

Restarting Firefox is always difficult for those of us with dozens of tabs open, because you don’t want to lose all the open tabs, but you might not want to bookmark them all either.

Thankfully there are a number of options to solve this:

  1. Use the Restart Firefox extension.
  2. Set Firefox to save all windows and tabs, every time.
  3. Set Tab Mix Plus to save all windows and tabs (if you are using the Tab Mix Plus sessions instead of the native Firefox one.)

Use the Restart Firefox extension

First, you’ll need to download and install the extension from Mozilla Add-ons. Then just look on the file menu, and you should see a shiny new menu item. This will restart Firefox and keep all your tabs exactly where you left off.

You can also use the toolbar button if you really want to, but that takes up too much space for me.


Set Firefox to save all windows and tabs, every time

You can configure Firefox to always save your current place by just going to Options, and then changing the dropdown to “Show my windows and tabs from last time”.

When you close your browser, it will automatically pick right back up where you left off. Note that this makes the homepage setting somewhat irrelevant. 


Set Tab Mix Plus to save all windows and tabs

This only applies if you are using the Tab Mix Plus session manager. If you open Tab Mix Plus Options, you can change “When Browser Starts” to “Restore”.

You might also want to enable crash recovery… but I’d recommend using Firefox’s built-in session restore instead, as it seems to work better for me.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/28/07

Comments (18)

  1. Cliff-and-Liz

    Thanks a load because when I was looking at k m or k&m match case or anywayzzz I was researching/looking for this type that a friend had but someone said they didn’t make anymore. Anywayz when I found this descriptive page of match cases I lost it next time I restarted firefox. I must have had cookies or history being deleted when I close or something because that match case or the one I finally found was gone.

    HOWEVER, thanks to your niffty little tips page that came up I now can save match case history or in the history or whatever it is that saves those tabs. Maybe you called it a session.

    But anyway now when I’m researching a specific type of fly fishing line or backpack or match case I can now successfully see my tabs and where I left off. Like right now I’m looking at the third tab of k & m match case and another of silvars match case and well anyway its great because that was a real, REALLY PAIN when my tabs were all gone and I did NOT want to get that new ms browser because my standard 6.02 etc is working perfectly. Yeah, some friend down the hall mentioned “just get that new 7.0 browser” but I hate learning new programs etc and sometimes the new stuff sucks you know. Recapping(if thats a word) thanks for your page tip thing because now all my … SESSIONS including that stinking k m matchcase page is like saved or whatever, you know the tabs are still there. HA! ast you can imagine I’m a newebie with this foxfixre thing but I just wanted to type out a thank you for your page it is just the best and fix a very very annoying problem

  2. Greg

    What I generally do is open up the task manager and go to processes. If you kill the firefox process, the next time you start firefox, it will ask you if you want to restore your previous tabs. This allows you to exit firefox and then restart with all your old tabs. It’s not the most elegant solution, though.

  3. Cliff

    Okay K&M Matchcase is fine, somehow I got a call and they didn’t like the off word describing or near match case. k m match cases are fine, so sorry, laterzz

  4. Ed

    I have Firefox/ and liked the idea of the TabMixedPlus, however, the “Sessions” tab does not have the Start/Exit Restore or Preserve tabs shown in this url. I want that functionality but am limited in the tool I downloaded. Thanks, Ed

  5. tdlee

    You said that “[‘Show my windows and tabs from last time’] makes the homepage setting somewhat irrelevant.”

    Perhaps somewhat, but not entirely. You can still use the home page as a quickly accessible bookmark. Press ALT-HOME (on a Windows system — I don’t know the equivalent on other OSs) and you get to your Home Page or pages quickly.

    One side-effect of this is the ability to have a particular set of sites that will open with a simple two keystroke shortcut.

    For instance, I have my home page set to my gmail account and google reader. When I press ALT-HOME, both sites are loaded in tabs. Use the Pipe symbol (|) between sites to separate. My home page is set to: |

    This lets me close the tabs after I’ve read my mail and feeds (so that I am not distracted by incoming messages and can actually get some work done!), but get to them very quickly when I want them later.

  6. jt

    When I’m writing, I kinda want a certain SET of tabs to be open, one for each research tool/site I use. Any way to save sets of tabs without having to open each one from bookmarks?

  7. markusN

    great stuff, thanks a bunch!

  8. MadModder

    jt: Place your set of bookmarks in a subfolder in the bookmark list. Then when you hover the folder, and the submeny appears, you can pick “open all in tabs” at the bottom. :)

  9. fastbullet

    It’s a good thing Firefox has a crash restore as it is necessary to use more often than I like.
    The shame of it is, it works when it feels like it, as does the built-in saving of sessions and open to home page.

    At the moment I’m using the Linux version of 3.5 and I have to say Firefox has outdone itself at wrecking things that worked in previous versions. This version is truly a mess.

    Thanks for the available options (restart ext & tab mix plus). Surely one or the other will function better than the default garbage.

  10. fastbullet

    I just installed tab mix plus and my tab bar went missing.

    Went through the settings, applied and okayed settings. Still no tab bar.

    Went back to Extensions, disabled tab mix plus and my tab bar came home.

    I think it’s safe to say I need to un-install tab bar plus.

  11. John Doe

    I use Session Manager to remember the tabs and for crash recovery.

    The show my windows and tabs from the last time doesn’t work in my Fx 3.5 when I close Fx with the option Delete history when I close firefox in the Privacy tab…

  12. donegal

    nicely explained, much appreciated!

  13. Kara

    I’ve used the “Show my windows and tabs from last time” for ages but recently it just stopped working and nothing I do will fix it. Tried changing to another option then back but still no joy. Very frustrating.

  14. nimd4

    “To solve this, you need to set browser.showQuitWarning to true. That way it will prompt you to save your session as it used to.”

    ^^ Firefox 4.x

  15. Santiago

    thanks a lot man! i just updated to firefox 4 yesterday and lost like 30 tabs

    santiago, from argentina

  16. Pattsworld

    Hi i had the same problem about Firefox not saving my tabs the problem is fix i found a site that fix it

    1)One of the most popular features in the newly released Firefox 4 are its Tab Groups, better known as Panorama. Unfortunately, many readers have been complaining that their Tab Groups are not being saved after closing their browser. What good is taking the time to create these Tab Groups if they are just erased when you shut down Firefox? Fear not, as About Web Browsers has you covered. Follow this step-by-step tutorial to ensure that your Tab Groups get saved between browsing sessions.

    2)First, type the following into your browser’s address bar and hit Enter: about:config. You should now see the warning message shown in the screen shot above. Click on the button labeled I’ll be careful, I promise!

    3)Firefox’s about:config interface should now be displayed, listing a large number of internal browser preferences. Scroll down until you locate the browser.showQuitWarning preference, circled in the example above. The default value of this preference is false. If the value is already true within this preference, then you can skip the remainder of this tutorial.

    4)Double-click on the browser.showQuitWarning preference. The value should now be true, as shown in the example above.

    5)In the screen shot above, I have created two Tab Groups. I would like these Tab Groups to be available each and every time I launch my Firefox 4 browser. By following the steps in this tutorial they will be.

    Close your Firefox 4 browser.

    6)Firefox 4 will now prompt you regarding the status of your open tabs and Tab Groups. Click on the button labeled Save and Quit. Your browser will now close, but your Tab Groups will be available the next time you launch Firefox 4.

    By Scott Orgera
    Web Browsers Guide I want thank him.

  17. robthom

    Whew, thanks for pointing me to that restart addon. Had to use restore all windows after frickin popups got FF all confused, but it wouldn’t restore the tabs after closing and reopening. The link above is the older version that does not work for FF4, but thankfully there is an updated version:

  18. i love tabs

    thank you so much! i missed ‘save and quit’ from the old version. i can’t remember what the internet was like before tabs.

    your post really helped. thanks again.

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