Ask LH: How Can I Automatically Reload My Current Apps After Restarting?

Ask LH: How Can I Automatically Reload My Current Apps After Restarting?

Dear Lifehacker, Am I able to restart my computer and have it automatically reopen whatever programs and files I had open? For instance, when I uninstall a program, it often asks me to restart to complete installation. However, I usually have numerous programs running, files that I’m editing, tabs open in Firefox and so on. To restart I have to save and close everything, restart, then reload and open everything. Surely there’s an easier way? Thanks, Boot Polish

Dear Boot Polish,

The short answer: this is a feature which (surprisingly) operating system vendors have only just begun to think about. Mac OS X added this ability in Lion. Choose Restart from the Apple menu and tick the option for ‘Reopen windows when logging back in’. (Some users have reported issues with this feature, though these have apparently been fixed in the latest Lion update.)

There’s no sign of a similar option in the forthcoming Windows 8, though it does have an increased emphasis on hibernating systems rather than shutting down, which means your apps will still be available. However, that doesn’t help when rebooting.

If you’re on an older Mac or use Windows, you don’t have such good options baked in. You can add applications to the Windows Startup folder or the Mac Login Items account option to have them automatically launch every time you reboot, but that won’t restore the apps to their exact state and you’ll have to reopen files. You can also set your browser to automatically open the tabs you had open in your last session. This isn’t a perfect solution, and it means those apps will open every single time you reboot, which can be a pain if you don’t always want those applications running.

It’s worth pointing out though that while many uninstall routines will suggest you restart to complete the process, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do so straight away. In most circumstances, you can carry on as normal and wait for a more convenient time to reboot. (The main exception is if you’ve been applying system patches; in that case, rebooting is generally a wise idea.)


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