Understanding Application Quit Options

Most Mac apps will automatically reopen the previous windows and documents when you launch them. However, you can choose to close all windows when you quit. You can also have closing all windows set as the default behavior, in which case you have the option to quit and keep all windows. Even after you quit, many apps allow you to launch without the old windows and documents if you hold down the Shift key.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Understanding Application Quit Options.

Let's take a look at what happens when you quit an app. Now I've got a couple of apps open here and the first one is Preview. I have a PDF document open in Preview. Now I can Quit using Command Q or go to Preview, Quit Preview. It's the same thing either way. When I do that and then I run Preview again what happens is the document I was looking at will just simply open again to the same position. If I have multiple documents open, all of them will open again.

Now I'm going to Hide that. Look here and I've got Safari. I actually have two windows open in Safari. I've got this one window with a Wikipedia article and another window here that actually has two tabs in it. So I'm going to Quit Safari. When I reopen Safari look what happens. I get both of those windows open and all the tabs in all those windows open again. So this is normal behavior.

But you can choose to actually close all of the windows for these apps if you want. For instance, in Preview here I could, of course, just close the window. Hit the red X there and that would close that window, close that document, and then I could Quit Preview. I could also go to Preview and hold the Option key down on my keyboard. You can see it changes from Quit to Quit and Close All Windows. So I can select that and now when I launch Preview again it doesn't open up that document. As a matter of fact it goes to the default, kind of, select document thing.

The same thing here with Safari. I go to Safari, Quit Safari, hold the Option key down and you can see it changes to Quit and Close All Windows.

Now if you prefer to always Close All Windows when you Quit you can do that. Go to System Preferences and under System Preferences click on General. There's an option here called Close windows when quitting an app. If you check that then go back to Safari, Quit Safari will work in that everything is closed. When I run Safari again, it's the same for Preview and everything else, it starts fresh. All those windows are gone.

Now notice when I do that if I hold the Option key down Quit Safari changes to Quit and Keep Windows. So Option, Command Q does the opposite. You can either Quit and Close all windows if you have it set one way or Quit and Keep windows when you have it set the other way. So you always have the opportunity to do the opposite of what you have it set for in System Preferences by holding the Option key when using Command Q or selecting the application and the Quit function.

Now let's say that you quit and app, Quit Preview here, and I have it set so that it's not going to close the windows when quitting app. So now when I launch Preview again I have no choice. It's going to bring up the documents that were open before. But there is a way to get around that. If you've got the app in the Dock, in this case I moved Preview to the Dock, then you can hold the Shift key down and launch. I won't hold the Shift key down here and launch and you can see it brings back that document. But if I hold the Shift key down and launch it will not do it. It will launch clean.

The same thing is true with Safari. If I click on Safari and then I go to a site. I Quit and I launch Safari again. You can see that it's going to return to that site. So let me Quit again. Now I'm going to Shift and launch Safari. Then it will close all the windows. So you can kind of do it retroactively when you launch the app the next time by simply holding the Shift key down. That only really works, I believe, if the app is in the Dock or if you're launching it from the Applications folder. It doesn't seem to work if you're doing a Spotlight search and trying to launch that way.

Comments: One Response to “Understanding Application Quit Options”

    8 months ago

    Thanks a lot, Gary. I always watch your videos, even if I thought I already know. Every time, there is something else to learn. I couldn’t imagine this Shift trick to open the application. Good tip!

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