Stop websites from reloading pages automatically - gHacks Tech News

Stop websites from reloading pages automatically

Webmasters have a number of techniques at their disposal to create auto-refreshing or reloading websites. From the basic meta refresh to more advanced options that rely on JavaScript.

While it may be useful at times if a site reloads content automatically, it can also be a nuisance especially if it does not feature a pause or stop button prominently.

Sometimes, it is useful if the entire page or some content on it refreshes automatically. It is useful if you follow a sports game on a site and get auto-refreshing scores and information about the game, and eBay and other auction sites may refresh the highest bid whenever it changes.

Websites reload automatically sometimes when it is not desired by the user as; doing so can be highly disruptive. Thankfully, there are some options that Internet users have to deal with these sites.

The following guide looks at options in the popular web browsers Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Edge. The methods may work in "related" browsers as well. Pale Moon or Waterfox support the same options that Firefox supports, and Vivaldi or Opera the same methods that work in Google Chrome.

Disable auto-reload in Google Chrome

auto refresh blocker chrome

The most popular desktop web browser has no built-in options to disable auto-reloading pages. In fact, the only options that users have is to either install the Auto Refresh Blocker extension -- which has a rating of just 2.33 stars out of 5 -- or execute instructions from the Developer Tools console instead.

The low rating of the extension is caused by users reporting that it does not work for specific sites.

The extension's functionality becomes clear when you open its options. It disables meta refresh elements on webpages and ignores query-strings for meta elements as well.

Users may enable the HTTP refresh header blocking functionality next to that, and may add their own custom query-strings and add sites to the blacklist.

The console option blocks certain refresh attempts completely. Just tap on F12 to bring up the Developer Tools in Google Chrome, switch to console, paste window.onbeforeunload = function(){ return 'Reload?';} and run it. This should work in other browsers as well.

Note that the extension should work in other Chromium-based browsers such as Opera or Vivaldi.

Mozilla Firefox

firefox block auto refresh

Users of Firefox may use built-in functionality to disable automatic reloads of webpages in the web browser. The options are not available in the main UI or on the settings page but it is still possible to manipulate the functionality from within the browser.

  1. Load about:config?filter=accessibility.blockautorefresh in the browser's address bar.
  2. You may get a warning prompt if you open about:config for the first time in the browser.

The preference determines whether auto-refresh functionality is enabled in Firefox or blocked. The preference takes care of meta http-equiv="refresh" and HTTP header refresh instructions.

Previous versions of the Firefox web browser had an option in the options under Advanced > General > Accessibility (Warn me when web sites try to redirect or reload the page" but that option is no longer listed in recent versions of the web browser.

Firefox users may set the preference browser.meta_refresh_when_inactive.disabled to true as well which prevents automatic refreshes when the tab is not active.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

internet explorer meta refresh disable

Internet Explorer users and administrators may modify the security settings of a zone to enable or disable Meta Refresh in the browser.

  1. Open Internet Explorer on the device.
  2. Select Menu > Internet Options.
  3. Go to Security and make sure the right zone is selected (Internet is the default).
  4. Click on the "custom level" button.
  5. Scroll down until you find "Allow Meta Refresh" under Miscellaneous.
  6. Set the option to "disable" (default is enable).
  7. Click ok.

The setting affects meta refresh only and not other refresh types.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge offers no options at this point in time to disable auto-refreshing websites. Edge supports extensions but no extension exists at this point in time that brings functionality to block pages from reloading automatically to the browser.

Summary
Stop websites from reloading pages automatically
Article Name
Stop websites from reloading pages automatically
Description
Some websites reload pages without you wanting them to do so. Find out how to stop them from refreshing webpages automatically.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Anonymous said on August 19, 2018 at 10:52 am
    Reply

    Conclusion: Microsoft Edge sucks

  2. Chie said on August 19, 2018 at 11:25 am
    Reply

    The Popup Blocker (strict) has an option to block page refresh when needed. Works perfect for my need

  3. Tom Hawack said on August 19, 2018 at 12:13 pm
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    The problem with Firefox’s accessibility.blockautorefresh set to true is that it sends a message for each blocking which is, IMO, not less irritating than the page auto-refresh itself. provided things haven’t changed regarding this setting since last time I tried it (years ago I think).

    I do learn with this article another Firefox setting I was unaware of :
    browser.meta_refresh_when_inactive.disabled
    which I’ll set to true. That’ll prevent such sites as newsnow.co.uk to refresh when returning to its tab after having visited one of its linked pages, always a pain when you’ve quickly scanned a page, chose to open a new tab and discover on your return that your visual milestones have shifted (when not vanished). Good.

    Coffee anyone? Have a nice (Sun)day :=)

    1. Sophie said on August 19, 2018 at 6:38 pm
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      Tom, I know of [newsnow.co.uk] only with thanks to you from when you mentioned it a few months ago, and now, thanks to Martin, I can also stop refreshes (I hope!)

      Thanks to you both! :)

      I think you mentioned newnow after Google mucked about with a redesign on their new page. Actually, it was worse than what they did for me, because something they changed caused a script error in my FF, and made the browser hang, though it did recover itself. Probably a bad interaction with one of my extensions, but also why newsnow become such a great discovery, and I now far prefer it to what Google offer.

      Wow, Google…..Microsoft………(and others), they really can annoy a person!!!! Never leave anything alone!

      Rant over! :)

      1. Tom Hawack said on August 19, 2018 at 6:58 pm
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        @Sophie, regarding newsnow.co.uk, if I do like the content I must say I’ve encountered several issues with the “container” and it seems indeed caused by one of their scripts. I’ve found a workaround by blocking inline scripts for that site via the ‘uBlock Origin’ extension. Good opportunity to emphasize on this perhaps lesser used uBO site setting, ‘inline scripts’ : some sites hide quite a lot of sneaky things in that area, blocking it i.e. has resolved overlays without having to create a specific uBO rule, but blocking inline scripts may also break a page so it’s really a per-site and really occasional setting IMO.

      2. klaas said on August 19, 2018 at 7:35 pm
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        @Tom: a bit off topic, but do you know Nano Adblocker. It is almost the same as uBO, but the dev claims it is updated more regularly than uBO. Any experience?

      3. Tom Hawack said on August 19, 2018 at 7:49 pm
        Reply

        @klaas, I have no experience of Nano Adblocker, can’t tell you. What I know by experience is that some developers innovate and some others bounce on successful extensions, applications, software. We all know that. I’ve started uBO practically since it was made available, have always found it more than efficient, so regularly updated that I pain to understand a claim that another similar add-on would be more frequently updated, but who knows?

      4. klaas said on August 20, 2018 at 5:09 am
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        @Tom: OK, understood, thanks for you input :-)

      5. Sophie said on August 20, 2018 at 8:31 am
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        @Tom – good point, I have nearly always (perhaps always!) overlooked inline scripts on uBO. I block third party scripts and third party frames as a matter of routine for all sites. But perhaps, when I’ve been using uBO to drill down into certain parts of a site, by using the ‘Logger’, looking for very fine control…..well, perhaps just using Inline, could have had the desired effect straight away.

        Thanks for drawing my attention to Inline, and as you say, per-site only…or it would cause a lot of issues, I’m sure.

      6. Richard Allen said on August 20, 2018 at 9:39 pm
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        @Tom
        Nice mention on “inline scripts”. I’ve been using it for some time on the occasional misbehaving website. Always worth a try and in my experience sometimes a hard refresh is needed instead of refreshing the page from the uBO popup when changing what kind of javascript is allowed.

  4. TelV said on August 19, 2018 at 12:26 pm
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    In Waterfox, accessibility.blockautorefresh set to “true” in prefs, but https://www.bangkokpost.com/ still auto-refreshes every minute or so. I usually get around it by moving the bottom of the browser below the taskbar on my Windows 8.1 machine so that I don’t see it when it takes place. :)

    1. Sophie said on August 19, 2018 at 6:40 pm
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      Worst thing of ALL is auto-playing videos. I’ve stamped on them, but sites keep changing their scripts, so suddenly they play again. Yes, I know there are several tricks, but you end up spending half your life, trying to make something how it should have been in the first place…

      Nice and simple……….Peaceful…………No over use of “bells and whistles”

      Simplicity!

      1. 3psilon said on August 19, 2018 at 10:54 pm
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        AND turning off autoplay also breaks or nearly breaks many websites i.e. embedded Facebook videos, Coubs, Youtube etc. It’s a functionality that 80% of websites use properly and 20% annoy the hell out of you with it.

      2. stefann said on August 20, 2018 at 6:39 pm
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        @Sophie – In Firefox 52.9.0 ESR i use the old Flashblock (1.5.20) addon and lets it put a play button on all videos/animations on sites (HTML5 included). It works on most sites.

        I guess Martin once also wrote about some settings in Firefox that should prevent autoplay.

        Even if i don’t use Chrome there should be some addon(s) to stop autoplay.

        As You wrote, some sites try their best to bypass the blocks against autoplay. Some sites makes it impossible to even view them if You block that autoplaying crap….but no loss, i won’t visit them again.

  5. Franck said on August 19, 2018 at 2:55 pm
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    Very useful, thank you !

  6. Cim said on August 19, 2018 at 4:03 pm
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    Thanks for the advice. There is one site that I frequently read that refreshes itself and it is very annoying, especially if I am watching a video report. Hopefully, I will now be able to stop the refresh on that page and read it in peace. Cheers, Cim

  7. TelV said on August 19, 2018 at 4:10 pm
    Reply

    It should be noted that changing the refresh setting in about:config to “true” causes FF/Waterfox to checkmark the setting in about:preferences#advanced –> General tab –> “Warn you when websites try to redirect or reload the page”.

    1. klaas said on August 19, 2018 at 7:37 pm
      Reply

      @TeIV: thanks for the tip.

  8. Richard Allen said on August 19, 2018 at 10:33 pm
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    Thank You Martin!
    I knew about “accessibility.blockautorefresh” and I don’t use it because I don’t really have a problem with websites refreshing in a way that annoys me. I was Not aware of “browser.meta_refresh_when_inactive.disabled” and have just now enabled it to see how well it’s working. The css to change the unread tab font and/or text color no longer works so that makes it harder for me to even be able to tell when a page gets refreshed.

    With videos I don’t have a problem with auto-play because with uBO I’ve globally blocked 3rd party iframes. I’ve created noop rules to allow video players coming from some domains (youtube, instagram, brightcove and others) and if a website uses one of those domains for auto-playing video I just block it on that one website. If the video is silent and below the viewport I usually leave it enabled. I’m lucky in that the bandwidth used and the system resources used aren’t really a concern, on my desktop.

    In Chromium browsers I’ve always wondered if the flag “chrome://flags/#stop-in-background” (Stop scheduler task queues, in the background, after a grace period) would at some point have any effect on background tabs refreshing. I don’t use Chrome enough to know the answer to that. Also, in Chrome Dev there is the flag “chrome://flags/#stop-non-timers-in-background” (Stop non-timer task queues, in the background, after a grace period) and wonder how that’s working.

  9. VioletMoon said on August 20, 2018 at 2:35 am
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    Must be unbelievably naive or lucky or unaware because I have never noticed a page refresh, other than those I do on my own, in my lifetime. What should I look for?

    1. TelV said on August 20, 2018 at 10:33 am
      Reply

      Just go spend some time on https://www.reuters.com/ News pages refresh every five minutes on average. Usually what happens is that pages freeze suddenly when you’re scrolling while the new content is loaded.

      1. VioletMoon said on August 20, 2018 at 9:35 pm
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        Absolutely no problems with Reuters. The side bar called “The Wire” would pop up another story every three or four minutes, but it didn’t do anything to my browser performance or page refresh. Everything stayed basically the same; no hindrance, no problems. Don’t know. Since I can’t replicate aforesaid problem others are having on any site, then . . . what to say? Thanks for the experimental site offering.

      2. TelV said on August 21, 2018 at 10:10 am
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        This is an old site, but you might try some of the sites mentioned: http://www.holovaty.com/writing/23/

  10. Mick said on August 20, 2018 at 11:42 am
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    With block autorefresh set to true I have endless problems with FF giving me messages about preventing redirection to another site and the page getting stuck until I manually allow it to continue. Had to set it back to false, less hassle that way.

  11. Mick said on August 20, 2018 at 4:36 pm
    Reply

    With block autorefresh set to true in FF I have endless problems getting messages about preventing redirection to another site and the page getting stuck until I manually allow it to continue. Had to set it back to false, less hassle that way.

  12. stefann said on August 20, 2018 at 6:30 pm
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    Thanks, Martin ! Useful tip !

  13. TelV said on August 21, 2018 at 10:15 am
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    @ Martin,

    Could you please fix the “Select All” button on the “Manage subscriptions” page so that it actually works? All it does now is just to return the user to the top of the page.

    1. Tom Hawack said on August 21, 2018 at 10:19 am
      Reply

      I noticed the same thing.

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