Mac and Windows systems can reopen apps and windows on restart. Even Linux can do that. But every time I restart ChromeOS on my Chromebook, it just pops up a blank Chrome browser window. UGH! Is there a way to set ChromeOS to reopen apps on restart or login?
Google has come a long way from the initial idea of “let’s turn that Web browser into an operating system” with Chrome OS. Every update adds slick new features and capabilities, making the experience better and better. One can only assume that Microsoft and Apple are paying close attention to this nimble competitor for ideal operating system for low-cost devices!
However, as is Google’s wont, there are lots of features that show up as “experimental”, without any fanfare or information, as the company hopes a few hundred testers can try them out and help debug any problems. Some seem to stay experimental for months and months, eventually seeing the light of day in a big Chrome OS “super update”. One example is the hack to enable the clock display on your system tray (the bar along the bottom), which I wrote about months ago [see: Add Date to Chrome OS Taskbar] and is still listed as experimental in the very latest Chrome OS.
All of that is to say that you’re in luck! Starting with Chrome OS 91.x it appears that there are indeed two settings that, when used together, not only can restore your windows, but can even prompt you on restart to restore or not. How very Windows of them, right? 🙂
Let’s have a look!
CHECK YOUR CHROMEOS VERSION NUMBER
The first step in this process is to check to see what version of Chrome OS you have. Easiest is to click on the lower right corner of your toolbar (mine has the time shown!):
From this pop-up shortcuts window, click on the gear icon (highlighted above) to open up Settings.
In Settings, on the lower left, is “About Chrome OS”. Click or tap on it…
It’s a bit faint but my Chromebook is running Version 91.0.4472.81. In other words, Version 91.x. Any subsequent versions (like Version 92, which is about to show up for people) should also have these settings. If you are on an earlier version, you should get the option to update; do so and restart.
ENABLE EXPERIMENTAL FEATURES FLAGS IN CHROME OS
Once you’ve got Version 91.x or newer running, then fire up Chrome. Yes, we do have to start with a Chrome browser window!
In the window type in the address chrome://flags like this:
You’ll drop into the experimental settings area of Chrome / Chrome OS and with a bit of scrolling (or utilization of the search function) you’ll find the two flags we need to change to enable Open Windows on Restart:
You’ll want to change both Enable ARC ghost window and Full restore here (your display probably won’t have them conveniently adjacent as I show above, but they should both be there).
For each of them, click on “Default” and choose “Enabled” instead:
While we’re here, notice that I have also turned on Enable Show Date in Tray. You might also want to enable that while you’re at it if you are envious of my time display!
Restart your Chromebook.
Now as you start up, there’ll be a new prompt that shows up on the screen:
Now that’s a huge improvement, isn’t it? I will note that it is listed as experimental, though I haven’t seen any issues or problems whatsoever. If you do have problems, you can use the same process but choose Disabled to turn the feature off. Good luck!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about operating systems for many years. You can find a lot more useful tutorials in my computer basics help library here on the site, and specific Chrome OS help articles too. Why not check it out while you’re visiting?