Quit and Discard Windows in Lion

Quit and Discard Windows in Lion
Mac Tip #503, 14 September 2011

Lion tends to automatically open windows that were open when you quit an app. This can be very handy or very annoying! Here’s how it works and how to make sure you’re not caught out by this new feature.


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In Lion here’s an experiment to try.

  1. Open Safari and visit a website, perhaps MacTips.
  2. Quit Safari.
  3. Open Safari again.

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

Lion saves documents and restores windows

What you should see is that when you open Safari again it automatically calls up MacTips, even though this time you didn’t need to type in the address.

That’s because Lion often restores whatever windows were open when you quit an app.

Try it with some other apps too, perhaps TextEdit:

  1. Open TextEdit and type a few words into a new document.
  2. Quit TextEdit.
  3. Open TextEdit again.

You should find that when you open TextEdit again it shows you the document you’d been typing in, even though you didn’t save it before you quit.

Quit and Discard Windows

Restoring windows is a very handy feature, and certainly helps for those times when the battery goes dead or you quit and forget to save, or you have to restart the machine.

It’s not so handy though when it opens up a confidential document when you were trying to show a visitor the story of your holiday, or when the web browser shows your partner the site you were buying a surprise gift from.

So you have the option to Quit and Discard Windows. Then when you open the app again it will start up fresh and not show those documents.

Quit and Discard Windows.

Quit and Discard Windows.

  • Hold down the Option (⌥) key and choose Quit and Discard Windows from the File menu.
  • Or press Command (⌘) Option (⌥) Q.

The app quits, and when you start it up again the windows that were open when you quit should not open automatically.

Some windows still restore automatically

Quit and Discard Windows works well for documents that have been saved, but it’s another story if you haven’t ever saved a document.

My testing showed that an unsaved TextEdit document would reopen whether I chose Quit or Quit and Discard Windows. To prevent an unsaved document from reopening automatically close it before you quit the app.

Comments and guest Tips

Do tell us in the Comments how you’re finding this new feature of Lion.

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Credit where it’s due

This Tip was written by Miraz Jordan, http://mactips.info, and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

These books will help you with Lion

I recommend the ebooks Take Control of Upgrading to Lion and Take Control of Using Lion to anyone moving to Lion. I’ve read them myself and they were extremely helpful. Click the covers below to buy through my affiliate link. Every book you buy through my link helps MacTips.

Take Control of Using Lion.   Take Control of Upgrading to Lion.

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  1. Jerry Tullman said:

    I find the reopening feature of Lion annoying because it also disables the connection to my network. Once the system reopens I can reestablish the connection in system preferences but this too is annoying. Why can’t they learn that things should not be fixed when they ain’t broke? Is there a workaround?

  2. Erin Sanders said:

    I HATE all the windows flying open! HATE HATE HATE it.
    25 windows fly open when I begin in just 1 application. UGH
    I use tons of apps at work and I don’t like having my desktop FILL with apps and windows. How is this helpful more than a HUGE nuscance?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Some people like it, some don’t. That’s why it’s handy to be able tp change the settings to suit how you work. :-)

Comments are closed.