OS X Lion: Disabling Resume, One Program at a Time

So let’s say that you’re working on a bunch of documents. Because your machine is running Lion, you realize that all of those files will come back to life like Frankenstein’s monster the next time you open that program if you don’t close things before you quit. You sigh and resign yourself to closing every single open document, and then you go off and write terrible poetry filled with sad-face emoticons. Luckily, though, you can selectively tell programs not to open existing windows when you restart them, so all is right with the world (and you can put aside the poetry-writing for another day, thank goodness). Here’s how to override Lion’s sometimes-pesky Resume feature as you see fit.

As I’m sure you all know, the keyboard shortcut for quitting a program is Command-Q; however, if you instead use Option-Command-Q, the application you’re in will actually discard all of the open windows you have and won’t reopen them the next time you start the program. You can see evidence of this by holding down the Option key as you click on the program’s name in the menu bar.

See how “Quit TextEdit” has changed to “Quit and Discard Windows”? I love that more than I love ice cream. OK, almost as much.

Here’s the kicker, though—this is all dependent on how you have a certain checkbox in System Preferences > General set. If you look there, you’ll notice a box labeled “Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps.”

If that’s turned on, the tip above will work as written. If it’s off, then your windows aren’t restored by default anyway, so the choice you’ll get when you use the Option-Command-Q shortcut in a program will be “Quit and Keep Windows” instead.

So you always have the ability to make a program behave in the opposite manner to what your machine has as its default. I much prefer having Resume off and then choosing to keep windows open in applications as I need to.

Remember, though, that this shortcut only applies to documents you’ve already saved. No matter how System Preferences is configured or how many times you mash Option, if you haven’t saved a file, it’ll keep opening until the cows come home. And since I don’t have any cows, that’ll be a very long time.