You’ve got a bunch of browser windows or tabs open–one for email, one for Facebook, your favorite news site, and a few articles you read halfway before getting distracted. You need to shut down or restart your computer but you’d like to open all those windows and tabs the next time you start your browser. Well, Safari, Firefox, and Google Chrome all give you ways of doing that.
With one menu command, you can tell Safari to “Reopen All Windows from Last Session”. Safari will even put them back in the same position on the screen as they were when you last shut down Safari. Watch this video to see this in action.
The tabs will have all the pages they had in your previous session, but they won’t remember their history, so you won’t be able to see which web pages you viewed before and after each page using the back and forward buttons.
Firefox gives you two options for opening the windows and tabs you had open in your previous session. You can tell Firefox to do this every time you start with the “Show my windows and tabs from last time” preference setting. Or, you can do it yourself as need with the “Restore Previous Session” menu command. Watch this video to see how both options work.
Firefox also remembers each tab’s history so your back and forward buttons will let you explore the pages you visited in your previous session as if you’d never shut down Firefox. The only (minor) weakness is that Firefox doesn’t remember your previous window positions.
If you like every browser session to start as the previous one ended, then Google Chrome performs just as well as Firefox and is as easy to set up with the “Reopen the pages that were open last” preference setting. But if you want to recover your previous session only as needed, as you’ll see in this video, Chrome makes that more difficult than Safari or Firefox.
Like Firefox, Chrome will remember each tab’s history but will not remember the windows’ previous positions on your screen.
So, in summary, here are the window/tab restoring capabilities of the top three Mac web browsers:
|…as needed||easy||easy||not as easy|
|…each tab’s history||No||Yes||Yes|
So, when it comes to restoring your previous browser session, I give the win to Firefox with Google Chrome as a close runner-up. Safari’s only advantage is its ability to remember window positions, but that’s easiest thing to redo manually. Firefox and Chrome do the best job of letting you continue just as you left them.