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I don’t know if I am the only one who can’t live without these two options enabled and I’ll admit that these two features are on the top of my list.

I just can’t remember how I was able to live without them before I discovered them a couple of years ago. I don’t remember if I found them by accident or if I read about them somewhere but since then, I’ve told all my friends about it.

What’s So Cool About It?

The ability to automatically restore opened Windows folders and Firefox tabs when Windows restarts is very convenient for people who have the habit of opening many folders and tabs. I usually have at least 5 folders open and some of them are located rather deep in the file system (i.e. F:\Work\Freelance\WritingComputers\MakeUseOf) and it is very irritating when I have to navigate to such a folder manually.

I usually keep all the folders I am currently using open, plus some folders with music, movies, books, and other non-work related stuff. These folders are open any time I am at my PC. For me, it is a great relief that when I restart Windows, I don’t have to open all of them individually.

How to do it?

If you have messed with a lot with the settings in Windows, you’ve most likely already discovered this options. But if you don’t know (or don’t remember) where to enable it from, let me tell you.

To enable the automatic restoration of opened folders, open Windows Explorer (or any folder) and in its menu bar, go to the Tools menu. Select Folder Options and then click the View tab. This will open the dialog box shown below:

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If there isn’t a tick in front of the ‘Restore Previous Folder Windows at Logon’ option, just check it and there you go!

Similarly to Windows, Firefox offers a similar function. When you enable it, you will have your tabs from the previous session automatically restored when you launch Firefox. Since I typically have 20+ tabs opened and many of them are of sites I check all the time, you can imagine how much I value this option in Firefox.

To restore tabs on startup in Firefox, just open the Tools menu → Options → Main and have a look at the “When Firefox Starts:” option under Startup section. Click the arrow on the right of the drop-down list and select ‘Show my windows and tabs from last time’. When you are done, click OK and that’s it.

When Automatic Restoration Doesn’t Work

The above settings work almost every time you restart Windows and/or Firefox. One of the cases when the opened folders will not automatically restore is when Windows restarts after a crash. If Windows is terminated abnormally (for instance, when you didn’t restart your computer by selecting Start → Turn Off Computer or Restart but you unplugged it instead), the folders are not restored.

Also, if you have two or more instances of the same folder (i.e. C:), only one instance will open after restarting. Sure, this is a minor glitch to a great feature, so there is no reason to complain about.

Unlike Windows, when Firefox crashes, its tabs are usually restored. If Firefox has crashed, when you launch it, you see the following message:

If you select ‘Start New Session’, your tabs will not be restored. If you select ‘Restore Previous Session’, you will see the tabs that were opened before the crash. This feature is pretty cool, right?

Did you know about the “restore” function in Windows Explorer? Do you like your folders to automatically reopen magically when you turn on your computer? Comment it out.

  1. majdi
    January 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    hi all...

    how to set window auto recovery like at cyber cafe, every after log off all setting in windows become like before we used the computer. anybody know?

  2. DarkHorseDre
    December 6, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Hi, great article.

    I did know about this though, and have used it for a while, but my problem is that when Explorer.exe crashes upon shutdown/boot or other time, it fails to re-open explorer windows and all is lost. Does explorer have a record of windows that are to be opened that I can backup, like Firefox does?

    Incidentally, that Firefox file is: sessionstore.js (inc. the backup: sessionstore.bak)

    located in: \Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxxx.default

    and it would be worth providing info on this file for those users that rely on tabs reopening!

    Cheers

    DHD

  3. goldenage57@hotmail.com
    November 26, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    no, I did not know about the restore function in Windows Explorer. THANK YOU!!! I love this! Also, I just discovered the way to close Firefox to be able to restore ALL Windows and tabs. Fabulous!

  4. youthworker
    May 27, 2009 at 3:18 am

    I honestly can't remember what my 'home page' is any more, since I've been using the 'restart previous session' option in Firefox. My only bugbear is the rare occasion when I close my firefox session to discover a new window, opened without me knowing it (eg a caselmedia popup window). I close it immediately (of course) but it is then the page I open to next time, and I have lost my previous session.

    Same option in windows? Cool. Will give it a shot.

    • TanaG
      May 27, 2009 at 4:05 am

      This is really irritating, especially when it is some stupid ad! :)

  5. Arun
    May 25, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Use morning coffee add in of the firefox to start the number of sites with a single click.

    • TanaG
      May 27, 2009 at 4:04 am

      Does this plugin restore tabs from the previous time or simply it opens the tabs you have configured it to open? I have never used this plugin and that's why I am asking.

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