‘This Changed How I Use my Computer’: Let Me Introduce You to Ctrl+Shift+T
When I recently introduced a colleague to the magic of Ctrl+Shift+T, his mind was blown. The way he uses his computer has changed. His life, if I may make a logical leap, was changed forever. I honestly can’t believe more people don’t know about this gem of a keyboard shortcut. So what is Ctrl+Shift+T (or Cmd+Shift+T for Mac users)?
I would argue that this is one of the most important and useful keyboard shortcuts out there, right up there with Ctrl+Z. In fact, it performs a similar function: to undo an error. Specifically, the error of accidentally closing a browser tab or window. Ctrl+Shift+T is the easiest way to restore a browser tab you didn’t mean to X out of.
I know I’m not the only one who often clicks the “X” on a Chrome browser tab when I just wanted to switch to it. We’re all just a little too click-happy in this multitasking world. But if I’m not particularly careful about my cursor positioning, it’s because I have a secret weapon up my sleeve: I know that Ctrl+Shift+T has my back.
Let’s walk through how to use it, plus all the other ways to recover lost tabs in any browser. And don’t miss our list of the ones best windows 11 keyboard shortcutsthe essential Mac keyboard shortcutsand a Google Chrome trick that organizes all your tabs for you.
Four ways to reopen closed tabs in Google Chrome
Google Chrome gives you a few options for restoring tabs and windows after closing them, and depending on your needs, it’s good to know how they all work. However, note that restoring closed tabs is not an option when browsing in incognito mode.
1. Keyboard shortcut method
The fastest way to recover a single tab that you accidentally closed is with a keyboard shortcut. On a PC, use Ctrl+Shift+T. On a Mac, use Cmd+Shift+T. If you want to restore multiple tabs, or if you need a tab that you closed a while ago, just keep pressing Ctrl+Shift+T and your tabs will reappear in the order they were closed. Bonus: If you accidentally close your entire browser window completely, just open a new Chrome window and the keyboard shortcut will reopen everything at once. This is a great trick for those times when a system update forces you to close your browser or completely restart your computer.
2. Browser history method
Your Chrome browser history also keeps track of recently closed tabs. It’s not as lightning fast as a keyboard shortcut, but this method is useful if you closed the tab a long time ago and need to refer back to it.
There are a few ways to access your browsing history in Chrome. One way is to use another shortcut: Ctrl+H. Another is to click on the hamburger menu in the upper right corner of your browser and then select History. And a third option is to type “chrome://history” in your address bar, then hit enter.
However you get to your browsing history, once you’re there, you’ll have access to all the websites and tabs you’ve viewed in reverse chronological order. Clicking on a result will reopen it for you. Go through the hamburger menu also has a built-in list of Recently closed tabs, which you can choose to reopen.
Read more: 11 Chrome Features You’ll Wish You Knew All Along
3. Tab search method
Have you ever noticed the little down arrow in your Chrome tab bar? In Windows, these are right next to the icons to minimize, maximize, and close your window. (On Mac, it’s at the top right.) This icon is Chrome’s built-in tab search function, which itself can be accessed with a simple keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+A. Tab Search shows you a list of all the tabs you currently have open, and another list of your recently closed tabs. You can scroll through the lists to reopen or switch to the desired tab, or use the search bar to find it with a keyword. This is handy for those who keep dozens of tabs open at all times.
4. Taskbar method
If you have a Chrome window open – or if the app is pinned to your taskbar – right-click the icon from the taskbar and you’ll see a short list of links: Most visited and Recently closed. From there, you can restore a tab by just clicking on it. (Note that these options do not appear on Mac.)
Bonus: ‘Pick up where I left off’ method
There is a Chrome setting that essentially makes Ctrl+Shift+T the default. By turning on this feature, every time you open Chrome, the browser will automatically reopen the tabs you had open in your previous session. To turn it on, go to your Chrome settings (also through the hamburger menu), then At startup. Choose the Continue where you left off option.
What about other browsers, such as Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Opera?
The Ctrl+Shift+T keyboard shortcut will also work in other browsers (as well as right-clicking on the tab bar and choosing Reopen closed tab). Most of the other methods for reopening a tab also work across browsers, although the menu labels and options may differ. The experience is largely the same on a Mac, with the exception of the taskbar method.
For both Firefox and Microsoft Edge, you can also go through your browser history to find and reopen a tab you accidentally closed. Firefox has a dedicated submenu at the bottom History called Recently closed tabs. Microsoft Edge has a tab History menu for Everyone, Recently closed and Tabs from other devices. In Opera, if you’ve enabled the sidebar — and if History is one of the elements you’ve chosen to include in the sidebar — click the History icon from the sidebar will also pull up a list of recently closed tabs.
The other browsers also offer a setting to automatically reopen the previous session’s tabs when it starts. In Firefox, go to Institutions > General and check the box below Startup marked Open previous windows and tabs. In Microsoft Edge, go to Institutions > Start, Home and New Tabs and below When Edge startschoose open tabs from the previous session. And in Opera: Institutions > At startupthen tick the box retain tabs from previous session.
For more, check Google Chrome’s best featuresinclusive how to mute a noisy browser tab. Plus, browser settings to change for better privacy and browser extensions that will save you money when you shop online.