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How To Restore Your Google Chrome Tabs If They Close Unexpectedly

Chrome restore tabs restart title how to DG AH 2021
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No piece of software is perfect and that includes long-standing software such as Google’s Chrome browser. As a result, sometimes malfunctions occur and, in the case of a browser, tabs might be lost that were open — leaving users to wonder how they’re supposed to get them back. Fortunately, it is possible to learn how to restore tabs in Google Chrome, at the very least. And that doesn’t have to be a difficult process either.

When will this guide come in handy?

There are many reasons why Chrome tabs might disappear, whether by accident or just unexpectedly. The browser may encounter a hiccup, run out of memory, or have some other problem, for example. And in that case, it should restart on its own. But it may not reload all of the tabs you had open at the time the error occurred.

Conversely, you may have acccidentally closed the Chrome window itself. And then, once it restarted, the browser may have inadvertently lost all of you tabs.

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While incredibly frustrating, Google built Chrome to be robust. Part of that includes building in the ability to restore tabs that have been closed. Regardless of the reason that they were closed. And with very few exceptions to that.

There are effectively three ways to restore tabs in Chrome after a bad restart

Of course, the easiest way to restore tabs in Chrome after an unexpected restart is truly as easy as it gets. As shown in the title image for this guide, the browser will, far more often than not, throw a pop-up message upon restart. That informs users that Chrome didn’t shut down properly and offers to restore all tabs.

However, that pop-up isn’t long-lived by any stretch of the imagination and, once gone, it doesn’t come back. Conversely, it’s also far too easy to accidentally click the “Open startup pages” option by mistake instead. So this guide will walk through three different ways to get those tabs back, just in case that happens. Or in case it doesn’t show up at all.

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Use your mouse to restore tabs in Chrome after an unexpected restart

The easiest method for restoring accidentally or unexpectedly-closed Chrome tabs, after the one-click action mentioned above, is with the mouse. Google has frequently updated Chrome and many of those updates have resulted in tab pages being stored in cache. That also happens to be one of the reasons that Chrome is so RAM intensive. But that comes with an added convenience. Namely, a way to restore tabs if something goes wrong or they’re accidentally closed.

  1. After an accidental, unexpected, or other restart of Chrome closes open tabs, the browser should open with a new tab page loaded
  2. Right-click in the space next to the new tab — long-press on a touchscreen or hold the alt-key and then click on a Chromebook
  3. The second option from the top will read “Restore closed tab”
  4. Click the Restore closed tab option. While the verbiage may imply that a single tab will be re-opened, all tabs closed out by accident should reload, if Chrome had a chance to cache them prior to closing. That is typically the case. If only one tab was accidentally closed, that will also re-open that tab alone
  5. The tabs will be restored. Be sure to close the still-open window containing just the ‘new tab’ page before moving on if the restored tabs open in a new window. Otherwise, Chrome may cache the new tab page and window instead of the one that now holds the restored tabs. Meaning they won’t be as easily restored again if they’re closed
01 2 Restore unexpected restart Chrome tabs android
01 2 Restore unexpected restart Chrome tabs android

Use the keyboard shortcut instead

As shown in the image above, there’s also an easy way to restore your Chrome tabs after an accidental restart using a keyboard shortcut. And this will, in fact, work exactly the same as the above-mentioned method. The sole difference will be that it’s a keyboard shortcut instead of a click on the tab bar. So this method may be easier for those who are more accustomed to those navigation methods.

  1. After an accidental, unexpected, or other restart of Chrome closes open tabs, the browser should open with a new tab page loaded
  2. Press and hold the “Ctrl” and “Shift” buttons before pressing the “T” key
  3. Chrome should restore any tabs that were closed by accident
  4. As noted above, that should include any and all tabs that were closed by accident, if more than one tab was open when Chrome restarted or was closed

If neither of those works, you’ll have to use your Chrome history instead

Now, in some cases, simply attempting to restore tabs using the methods already discussed here won’t work. While problematic, that’s not necessarily the end of the world. Especially since Chrome is also saving browser history.

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And, of course, Chrome saves several separate segments for browser history. Including the history from any other devices where users are signed in. Which could also prove useful for those who have a habit of accidentally closing tabs or if something goes wrong and they close unexpectedly. Although it isn’t necessarily useful for this guide’s purpose.

  1. Open Chrome — if it hasn’t already re-opened or restarted on its own
  2. Tap or click on the three-dot menu at the top-right hand side of the UI
  3. Scroll down to “History” and hover or long-press the right-facing arrow next to that menu option
  4. A new pane will appear in the menu, showing recent tabs both on the device and on other devices that are syncing with the same account. That’s in addition to a standard view of other history log entries
  5. The top segment of the pane is the one you’re looking for. That is labeled “Recently closed” and, as is implied, houses all tabs that were recently closed. Whether by accident or not
  6. Click on the page you’d like to re-open and that will load up in a new tab
  7. For deeper history, click the “History” option at the top of the pane to show your full Chrome history
03 2 Restore unexpected restart Chrome tabs android
03 2 Restore unexpected restart Chrome tabs android

What about on Android or other Mobile OS’s?

On Android, there’s no easy keyboard shortcut or right-click method for restoring tabs. Instead, users will need to utilize the History found in the three-dot overflow menu at the top-right hand side of the page. That will work similarly to the History method for restoring tabs outlined above.

Or they’ll need to click on that menu and access the “Recent tabs” option, as shown below. In either case, the tabs shown will closely resemble the History option outlined above. Albeit with a somewhat less detailed appearance, due to limitations in terms of screen real estate. And, of course, users can always open up their full history in Chrome for Android, if the page they’re looking for isn’t in the Recently closed segment of the Recent tabs page.

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02 1 Restore unexpected restart Chrome tabs android
02 3 Restore unexpected restart Chrome tabs android
02 1 Restore unexpected restart Chrome tabs android
02 3 Restore unexpected restart Chrome tabs android

This won’t work to restore all of the tabs all the time

Now, sometimes these methods still won’t work. And that’s not without good reason, at least in some cases.

For instance, restoring Chrome tabs won’t work at all if the tabs that were open were Incognito Mode tabs. That’s because those tabs are meant to stay private, even from Chrome. That’s unless you’ve signed into a website, although all sites will be able to tell you’ve visited. And sites that have records of your visit, such as Google Search, will likely still be able to link visit data to your account, although it won’t necessarily be saved anywhere unless you’ve signed in.

Because Incognito Mode tabs don’t save any data — it’s deleted once all tabs that are Incognito are closed — those tabs can’t be restored. So if you’ve accidentally closed an Incognito tab, that data is essentially lost in order to keep the tabs themselves private.

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Another circumstance which may prevent the tabs from being restored is tab groups. Although those will typically reload via the methods laid out above, they don’t always. The reason for that isn’t exactly clear but those tabs should still be discoverable in History. Just so long as you haven’t visited too many sites between when those tabs were opened and when the browser restarted unexpectedly.

History will also be needed if the browser restarted in such a way as to clear cache and delete saved tab data. It will, of course, be obvious if that happens. Since none of the other methods will do anything at all under those circumstances.

Google is working on ways to prevent that loss from happening, of course. Including work on ways to easily bookmark tab groups in Chrome. And ways to save specific tab groups in even fewer clicks. But, for the most part, the methods outlined here are almost always reliable. And, of course, are far better than having no means to restore tabs after an accidental or unexpected restart of Google Chrome.

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But up to that point, and perhaps beyond that point while Google perfects the processes, the methods outlined here are going to be the best bet for restoring closed tabs.