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How to recover pages from tabs in Chrome

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Matter

I had to manually close Chrome and restart my computer, losing dozens of tabs.

Quick solution

Use History to restore entire Chrome windows, including all groups and tabs.

The full story

Over the weekend, I had to use my somewhat older MacBook Pro—the one I usually use for work—for a Zoom call. Unfortunately, I had several work projects on and had two iterations of Chrome, each with about 40 or 50 tabs. (Okay, I had a few other apps too.) As a result, the computer started shutting down when I started using Zoom.

I didn’t have time to figure out which tabs I could easily lose or bookmark them, so I just closed the two iterations of Chrome – or tried. While one window eventually closed, the other just sat there with my cursor spinning. I eventually gave up and rebooted the system.

When the computer restarted, Chrome didn’t ask me (as usual) to restore my tabs; instead it just came with a blank browser. I continued with my Zoom session and decided to worry about the lost tabs in the morning.

So this morning I went to look at my tab history, thinking I should spend some time reconstructing each of my two Chrome windows from all the sites in my history. What I didn’t know (or don’t remember) was that Chrome saves everything in every window, including the tab groups. Within seconds I was able to completely restore my two windows without straining my memory and figure out all the different tabs I had in each.

How do you fix it

  • Click the three dots in the top right corner of Chrome.
  • click on History and look under the Recently closed column. You should see an entry with the number of tabs in each recently closed window (e.g. “7 tabs”).
  • Click (or hover) on the item and then Restore Window† And it should!

A few notes: if you click on the “X Tabs” item first, you will also see a list of the tabs that were in the window. If you don’t want to restore them all, you can restore them individually.

If you’ve grouped the sites together, you’ll also see a list of groups; click on the group name to see which tabs were in each group. Unfortunately, while you can restore every tab in every group, you cannot restore a single tab group. To get one of your groups back, you need to restore the whole window, including all groups and other tabs. (Call Google Development…)

Finally, if the tabs page you’re looking for scrolled from the Recently Closed window, you’re pretty much out of luck. You have to select History > History and reconstruct your pages and groups based on the individual sites in the resulting list.

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