How can I make it so Terminal will remember the currently open windows on Quit, and reopen those windows, with all the existing text intact?

I have two machines:

  • Both on El Cap

  • Both with identical Terminal preferences, including:

    • Profiles > Window > Restore text when reopening windows [checked]
    • Profiles > Shell > When the shell exits [Don't close the window]

  • Both with identical .bash_profiles (just for LSCOLORS)

On the first machine, Terminal reopens windows exactly as I left them before Quit.

On the second machine, Terminal always starts with an empty bash window. I can still press up to get previous commands. (And the scrollbar is different on the second machine, FWIW).

I can't figure out what's responsible for the (desired) behavior on the first machine, so I haven't been able to port it to the second machine. Any suggestions?

  • For me, my terminal windows restored for years, until recently. I think that the upgrade to Mojave or one of the security fixes introduced the problem by changing the settings the answer.
    – benc
    Jun 8, 2020 at 5:50

1 Answer 1


You have "Close windows when quitting an app" checked on the machine that does not restore the terminal windows (your second machine).

This setting is in System Preferences -> General not in your Terminal preferences.

Uncheck this box to get the desired behavior. Understand however that this behavior can extend to other applications as well - it is not restricted to Terminal.app

As for the scroll bars, I suspect you will find that the Show Scroll Bars radio button in System Preferences -> General is not set the same on your two machines.

  • Is there a way to enable this behavior only for Terminal app?
    – 2540625
    May 8, 2016 at 3:09

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