R tips: Eliminating the “save workspace image” prompt on exit


26 March 2009

When using R, the statistical analysis and computing platform, I find it really annoying that it always prompts to save the workspace when I exit. This is how I turn it off.

I wish there was an option to change the default of the q/quit functions. I start and stop R frequently and so the exit question which I have to answer every time is really annoying:

Save workspace image? [y/n/c]:

Why is there no R option to disable this prompt? If I want to save the image, I have already saved it. And I don’t like the default name anyhow, preferring to give my own with save.image(file=...). For a while, I had a function defined in my ~/.Rprofile that terminated the session without prompting.

exit <- function() { q("no") }

While this means I can type exit() and avoid the annoying prompt, in practice I normally type Control-D to end the session which still calls the normal q function with its annoying prompt.

So instead I use the alias functionality of my (bash) shell to change the default. In my ~/.bashrc I now have

alias R="$(/usr/bin/which R) --no-save"

And finally I am happy. But I still think R should have an option (accessible through options) to change the default behaviour.

2023 update: Use your IDE

Everybody uses an IDE for R these days, usually R Studio, so change the option through your IDE instead.

Changing the options in R Studio – see red lines for key settings