How to Disable Web Page Auto-Refresh In Your Browser

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There was a time when web pages were static once they loaded – no post-processing changing web pages before your eyes, no funny business. Today, features like auto-refresh are designed to help us, but sometimes they can get in the way, causing videos or text to reload when we’re in the middle of using them. To make your life a little easier, we show you how to disable auto-refresh on all major browsers.

Tip: learn how to easily switch from Chrome to Safari on Mac.

Stop Auto-Refresh Using Browser Settings

Google Chrome

Let’s start with Google Chrome, the most popular browser. Disabling auto-refresh was once something that could be quickly done via third-party extensions. Unfortunately, recent changes to Chrome have all but eliminated the need for those extensions, so they no longer exist in the Chrome Web Store.

The good news is that there is a built-in alternative method that isn’t perfect but does the job. To get started, type chrome://discards into the address bar. This site shows a list of all your currently active tabs, with an option to stop auto-refresh.

Disable Auto Refresh Browser Chrome

Begin by looking for “Auto Discardable” near the right side of the page, then locate the site where you want to disable auto-refresh. When you locate the page, click on “Toggle,” and the “√” will change to an “x.”

Disable Auto Refresh Browser Chrome click on Toggle

When “Auto Discardable” is active, any site that is disabled will not refresh automatically. The caveat is that these settings are not permanent. Any time you close Chrome, you will have to follow the same process and toggle off any site. If you do not close Chrome, the setting will remain enabled for as long as it is running.

Remember, this setting is different from Chrome’s Memory Saver in the latest version of the browser. The option lets you pause the updating of tabs in the background, saving precious resources on your computer. However, as soon as you click on the tab again, it automatically updates the content.

It’s also worth noting that the same steps apply to Brave and Opera. Just use brave://discards or opera://discards, and follow the same options for the “Auto Discardable” toggle.

Good to know: want to know what else you can do with Chrome Flags? Read our rundown of the best Chrome Flags you can enable.

Mozilla Firefox

The process for blocking auto-refresh is much simpler in Mozilla’s browser.

Just type about:config into the Firefox address bar, “Accept the risks” involved in making changes to Firefox, then near the top of the list, you should see the accessibility.blockautorefresh preference.

Disable Auto Refresh Browser Firefox

At the far right of this preference, click on what looks like a dual arrow “icon” to change its value from “false” to “true,” thereby disabling auto-refresh in Firefox. To turn auto-refresh back on, follow the same process, and go from “true” to “false.”

FYI: curious to find out more about the changes you can make to Firefox? Check out our list of about:config Firefox tricks.

Microsoft Edge

Similar to other Chromium-based browsers, such as Google Chrome, you can stop tabs from refreshing by using the “discard” option. Open your Edge browser, and type edge://discards/ into the search bar. This opens a new window that displays all the open tabs. In the “Auto Discardable” column, click on the toggle for the tab that you don’t want to auto-refresh.

Disable Auto Refresh Browser Edge Discard

Remember that the change isn’t permanent and that you’ll have to do that every time you open Edge.

Apple Safari

Nope, no such luck. Apple’s Safari browser doesn’t have a built-in function that allows you to block auto-refresh, nor is there a third-party extension that does it yet. While an extension for this could technically exist, Apple has not been very proactive about attracting developers to make extensions for the Safari browser (though Apple is stepping up), so there really aren’t that many extensions available, let alone one that does this specific task.

Internet Explorer

First, we’re going to scold you for still using Internet Explorer when the browser is no longer being supported and updated by Microsoft. But the fact remains that a lot of people still persist and use IE, so these directions will show how to disable auto-refresh in the deprecated browser.

Click the Start button, type “internet options,” and select Internet Options in the search results. In the Internet Properties window, click “Custom tab -> Custom level,” then in the Security Settings window, scroll down until you find “Allow META REFRESH.” Disable this option, and click “OK.”

Disable Web Page Auto-Refresh IE11 Meta Refresh

Stop Auto Refresh via Extensions

If you are comfortable tinkering around with browser settings or performance tweaks, there are a few browser extensions you can install to prevent tabs from automatically refreshing.

Google Chrome

One of the best extensions for Google Chrome (which also works for the Opera browser) is Easy Auto Refresh. It’s primarily used to force a reload on a tab, but it can also function in a way to prevent it. Through a simple menu, set how many minutes it should wait before refreshing a tab. Whether you set it for 999 minutes or 0 minutes, it will have the same effect.

Disable Auto Refresh Browser Easy Auto Refresh

Mozilla Firefox

An excellent option for Firefox users is ReloadMatic: Automatic Tab Refresh, downloaded from the Firefox Add-ons page. Schedule when tabs should reload, but through the Smart Timing feature, prevent reloads entirely.

Microsoft Edge

If Edge is your preferred browser, you can also use an extension to block tab reloads. By downloading Auto Refresh Plus from the Edge Add-On store, manage when your tabs reload the data, or use the Auto Stop feature that prevents refreshing if you click anywhere on the page.

Disable Auto Refresh Browser Auto Refresh Plus

Tip: web page auto-refresh is not the only annoyance. Learn how to bypass Google’s ReCAPTCHA images.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do my apps auto refresh on mobile?

Developers code this function into apps so that users have the most up-to-date information when they open an app. This is called background app refresh, and you can turn it off on iOS and Android. You’ll need to manually refresh the app (usually by pulling it down from the top) to see the latest content. Remember, this is different from browser tabs refreshing.

How do I stop Chrome from suspending tabs automatically?

Chrome has a built-in setting that lets you suspend tabs in the background. This function is excellent if your computer doesn’t have a lot of RAM to share between tabs. But if you want to turn it off, type chrome://settings in the address bar, go to “Settings,” and click on Performance. From there, toggle the “Memory saver” option.

Can a faulty F5 key cause pages to refresh automatically?

It is certainly possible that a stuck F5 key can accidentally refresh a webpage. However, it will only refresh your current tab and not any others. If you are using a USB or wireless keyboard, disconnect the gadget to see if it continues.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Charlie Fripp.

Charlie Fripp
Charlie Fripp

Charlie Fripp is a technology writer with a strong focus on consumer gadgets, video games, and cyber security. He holds an undergraduate degree in professional journalism and has worked as a journalist for over 15 years. In his spare time, he enjoys playing various musical instruments and gardening.

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