An annoyance of restarting your Mac, or shutting it down entirely, is that after the Mac starts back up, you still have to reopen all your apps and files so you can get back to where you were before. Wouldn’t it be nice if your Mac did this for you? Well, it can, and we’ll explain how in this article.
With Resume, the Mac reopens every app and file that was open just before you restarted or shut down. You can set this up next time you restart your Mac: Choose Restart or Shut Down from the Apple menu. In the dialog that appears, select “Reopen windows when logging back in” and click the Restart or Shut Down button. The checkbox will remain selected on subsequent restarts, and your Mac will reopen everything every time you log in to your account.
If you find that Resume is overly helpful, making you wait while it opens items that you use infrequently or that you were done with, you can turn it off by returning to the dialog and deselecting “Reopen windows when logging back in.”
Resume is good for getting back to where you were, regardless of what you were doing but if you just want your Mac to start up with the same apps and documents every time, you’ll want to use the Login Items feature.
In fact, you probably already have a few login items installed. To find out, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items. Utility apps often add themselves to the Login Items list, because they need to run at all times. Your list might include iTunesHelper, which launches iTunes whenever you attach an iOS device.
If you’re not sure which app a login item goes with, Control-click the login item and choose Show in Finder. In the Finder window that appears, look at the path bar at the bottom (choose View > Show Path Bar if it’s not visible). That will usually give you the necessary clue to find the parent app.
There are three ways to add items to the Login Items list:
- Drag its icon from the Finder into the list.
- Click the + button beneath the Login Items list and choose an app from the Applications folder or any document, such as a diary or mileage log.
- Control-click an app’s icon in the Dock and choose Options > Open at Login from the menu.
Some apps, like Mail and Photos, fill your screen with their windows immediately at launch. If you don’t want to use an app right after restarting your Mac, you can reduce screen clutter by selecting its Hide checkbox in the Login Items list. That’s the equivalent of launching an app and immediately hiding its windows by Option-clicking on another app.
To prevent an item from opening at startup in the future, select it in the Login Items list and click the – button under the list. If the item in question is an app in the Dock, you can also Control-click its Dock icon and choose Options > Open at Login to remove the checkmark and prevent it from opening during future logins.
Restarting will take a little longer if you are using one or both of the Resume and Login Items features, but it’s faster than opening all your essential apps and documents by hand, so it’s an overall productivity win.