Prevent Chrome from Reloading tabs when Switching back to them

In the Chrome stable version 48, the Chrome team introduced a new feature called Tab Discarding. If you have several tabs open in Chrome, and you don’t visit a tab for a long time, Chrome will automatically refresh it when you switch to it later. This doesn’t happen to tabs that you keep visiting after a short duration of time but to tabs that you haven’t visited in a while. According to Google, this has done to make Chrome less RAM hungry. So, when you keep opening new tabs, to keep up with the RAM, being the smart browser, Chrome starts discarding the old unvisited tabs. Chrome also assumes that in the time you opened and then visited the tab, something might have changed on the web page. So, it ensures you always have the latest version of the page.

stop auto refresh chrome

This newly introduced feature makes sense, but this can be a pain for people who want to flip between their tabs for rapid reference, or who otherwise have enough RAM to spare that Chrome never bogs down their computer. Though the Chrome developers are trying to help us free some memory, however, this newly introduced feature totally ruins the tab if you don’t want its contents to refresh due to some reason, for example, a YouTube video you paused at a particular location. You may want to go back to some top headlines on the homepage of a news website which you had glanced at earlier, but as soon as you click the tab, the chrome auto-refreshes the page, updating the headlines. The list goes on and on.

The idea is good, but to me, this newly added feature is unproductive and highly frustrating. This can be a handy feature, particularly for users who have low-end PCs, if users have little control over this. Users should be able to whitelist websites that should not be discarded automatically. Additionally, users should be able to choose when a tab is discarded, i.e., the time period of inactivity that will drop a tab.

Here’s how you can Prevent Chrome from Reloading tabs.

Prevent Chrome from Reloading tabs

  • To stop chrome reloading tabs automatically, open browser and in the address bar, type chrome://flags/.

stop chrome reloading tabs

  • In the search flag box, type tab discarding. Click the drop-down under Automatic Tab Discarding and select Disabled. Restart Chrome.

Prevent Chrome from Reloading tabs

Chrome will no longer discard tabs. When you visit a tab after a long time, it will not automatically refresh it.

You can also see the tabs discarded by Chrome. To view the discarded tabs, type this in the address Bar: chrome://discards/. This will show all the currently opened tabs and which among those are discarded. You can manually dump a tab by clicking the Discard(safely) button. The tab will not disappear from the browser. Visibly, you won’t see any change when you discard a tab. But, when you switch to the tab, it will load a fresh version of the page. This page also shows the total and estimated free RAM.

chrome keeps refreshing android

Stop Chrome Reloading tabs – Android

You might also face this problem on your Android smartphone while using the Chrome browser for Android. Auto refresh of Chrome tabs usually happens when you switch through tabs, open another app, or just let your phone idle. In the case of Android, there is no such flag to disable the tab discarding feature. So, there is no direct way to disable auto refresh in Chrome mobile browser. This has to do with how Android works as an operating system in general. Android is an operating system that reallocates resources as it sees fit according to the user’s usage habits. This means that if Android sees that you’re spending most of your phone’s processing power and RAM to keep alive the opened tabs, it’ll kill some of your tabs to reserve the memory for other tasks. Since what usually makes your browser refresh the tab is RAM being allocated elsewhere, so avoiding RAM intensive activities while using Chrome should keep your tabs loaded as long as you don’t have too many of them.

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