The 46-year-old replaces Jim McIntyre, who was relieved of his duties in the wake of a 6-1 defeat at Inverness on Monday having been recruited as Hartley’s successor in June.
Hartley left Balmoral Stadium in June to take over the reins at Hartlepool United but was sacked in September, less than three months into his tenure, following a nine match winless run which left the club rooted in the League Two relegation zone.
The former Scotland midfielder – who has previously managed Alloa, Dundee and Falkirk after a playing career which included spells at Celtic, Hearts and Hibs – guided Cove to back-to-back promotions from League Two to the Championship during his first spell in charge.
Having worked with him previously, Cove chairman Keith Moorhouse believes Hartley is the best man for the job.
“As a club, we know Paul and how he works, and given his availability, this decision makes sense for both parties,” Moorhouse told the club’s website. “He understands Cove Rangers and shares our ambitions and given how well he worked with the players before, I am hoping the transition will be seamless.
“I want to look to the future now, and I feel we have the right man in place to take us forward.”
Cove are currently eighth in the Championship, ten points from the foot of the table but just nine points off the promotion play-off places. Hartley is delighted to be back and believes he has unfinished business at the club.
“I definitely think there is more to be achieved here,” Hartley said. “We put in a lot of hard work to get Cove Rangers up to the Championship, not just myself and Gordon [Young], but a lot of other people behind the scenes, such as the chairman, who worked so hard over many years to push Cove up through the leagues.
“Now it is all about staying in the Championship. It is a big challenge; I know how difficult the division is. There are teams fighting for their lives and our task will be to remain well clear of trouble.
“I’m delighted to be back; it feels like a homecoming and now I just can’t wait to get started.”