I had been staying on High Sierra for a long time, with Safari 13 I think, the last version that worked with High Sierra. I just upgraded to Catalina and then immediately upgraded Safari to 15.6.1. Everything went fine until a launched Safari and found I'd lost everything I had open.

I tend to keep a lot of browser windows and tabs open. I minimize the ones that I'm not actively using. If I force-quit Safari when I want to close it, I find on relaunch it only loads the webpages that are open, the minimized ones don't load until I maximize them. Because of this, I could have lots of windows without hurting my computer's performance too much. I found this an easier way to organize stuff I wanted to revisit and finish reading later, rather than having to use bookmarks which require constantly going through menus to create and delete them which is a much slower process.

This time, after the updates, when I launched Safari I only got one blank window. I tried "Reopen All Windows from Last Session", but all that did was open a bunch of blank windows with only one tab saying "untitled". I tried it several times, adblockers on and off etc, I just got hundreds of blank untitled Safari windows open.

I have a Time Machine backup from before the update. (Also a backup disk image made with SuperDuper.) I can't restore from that and re-do the update to try again because I did a bunch of work organizing and deleting files after the update, and that would be lost. Is there any to transfer my session from a backup to my new computer? I found one discussion here: Where does Safari store the open tabs? that discusses the session info being stored differently in Safari 13 and 15, and how do do what I'm asking with either one. But it doesn't say how to transfer a session from 13 to 15 or if that's possible.

The only way I can think of is:

  • create a bootable hard drive or USB thumb drive from one of my backups before the OS update
  • boot off of that volume-this will run slow compared to running off the internal SSD, making things even more tedious
  • launch Safari and reopen all windows, and create a bookmark folder with the tabs from each window
  • export my bookmark collection onto a thumb drive
  • boot from my internal SSD with Catalina, lauch Safari and import the bookmarks I created.

That might work, but it would be incredibly tedious and probably take many hours. Is there any more direct way to do it? I had windows open going back months, with tabs on topics I was researching and so forth. Yes, I know I'm an idiot for browsing this way and I should find a different way to organize my reading, but in the meantime I really want to get those tabs back. Can anyone think of a more efficient way to do it?


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