Firefox does not save tabs on close on Mac OSX

My girlfriend recently got herself a shiny new MacBook Pro, and installed Firefox, as that’s her browser of preference. She kept having a problem that her tabs would not be saved when she closed Firefox, and asked me to look into it.

All the settings under Preferences were OK, so the problem was not with the settings. Likewise, the relevant settings under about:config were set correctly. We tried deleting prefs.js, but that didn’t help either.

Then, as a last-ditch attempt, I tried closing Firefox using the option on the menu bar. I then got the beloved question “Do you want Firefox to save your tabs”. I clicked yes, then restarted Firefox. All the tabs were reloaded. I then used the red X in the upper right-hand corner, the opened Firefox, and the tabs were not reloaded.

I registered the bug with Mozilla (bug #544880), and it seems like this is not so much a bug, as the way Firefox is handled in Mac OS X; when you use the red “x”-button, it does not shut down Firefox, but rather closes the window in question.


  1. Thanks for this..saved me a few hours troubleshooting and googling!
    I’ve just switched from Windows to Mac OS X and it was really bugging me

  2. Hey!

    I observe the same behavior with Firefox! Man, this is driving me nuts! I’ve been looking for clues on a fix over the internet, but your post here most closely resembles my issue. I wanted the “save your tabs” option when i hit the Red X, and not just when select the “quit” option through right clicking on the icon on Dock.. which works fine.

    Is this really just the way FF behaves with MAC OS X? Or is there something wrong with our settings, config file, etc.. because i have seen anyone else describe this problem the same way you have, and the way i’m experiencing it.

    Would love to hear some feedback from others out there, and if you’re experiencing the missing “save and quit” option when you hit the X as oppose to having the “save and quit” option when you just quit FF via the Dock.


  3. Thank you so much for posting this; the problem was driving me crazy. I guess I’ll just have to teach myself to stop using the red “x” button.

  4. I had exactly the same confusion. My opinion is that it’s a bug – on both platforms, you’re closing the window with all your tabs in it. Just because on Windows it shuts down the application and on Mac it doesn’t, doesn’t mean the intention of the user is any different. I hope they realize this and change the behavior on Mac. Thanks for the post.

    1. While I agree that it’s a bug, it’s not going to be addressed by Mozilla.

      There is a similar bug in the Windows version too, though; if you have several windows open, and close them one by one, only for the last one are you asked about saving tabs.

      In Mac OSX, applications are handled differently; when you open an application, the top bar also changes.

      As I said, Mozilla will not address the problem, and I honestly don’t care enough to log the issue with Apple.

      There is a workaround, as detailed in my post, and that suffices for my needs.

  5. I recently switched from Windows to Mac and have been having a similar problem. My tabs are restored when I exit firefox using the option in the menu bar providing I haven’t turned off my laptop.
    My problem is when I switch my laptop off and turn it back on again, all my tabs are gone.

  6. This drives me insane, as I have configured to close an app with 3-finger-swipe down on the trackpad; and this is like using the X button which kills my session. Is there maybe a Firefox plugin out there that changes the behaviour of the session-saving to trigger when a window is closed?

  7. Solution:
    when closing use cmd + Q or close it from the menu, then when opening firefox just go to History > Restore Previous Session.

    And thats it !

  8. This is definately a bug in firefox. If it doesn’t work as expected, it should be fixed.
    As this problem persist for years now, I find it quit arrogant to state that its the fault of the operating system if fixefox doesn’t work as it is supposed to.
    Just my 2 Cts.


  9. Umtauscher; Your assertion that it is arrogant is as flawed as your assertion that it is a bug in Firefox.

    Let me explain: The Mozilla foundation do not control how Mac OS behaves any more than Google control how Windows behaves. Hence, any issue of this type – which is exactly what it is – is nor, I repeat NOT, a bug in Firefox.

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