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


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


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.

Load about:config?filter=accessibility.blockautorefresh in the browser’s address bar.
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 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.

August 19, 2018