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Meta refresh is a method of instructing a web browser to automatically refresh the current web page or frame after a given time interval, using an HTML
meta element with the
http-equiv parameter set to "
refresh" and a
content parameter giving the time interval in seconds. It is also possible to instruct the browser to fetch a different URL when the page is refreshed, by including the alternative URL in the
content parameter. By setting the refresh time interval to zero (or a very low value), meta refresh can be used as a method of URL redirection.
This feature was originally introduced by Netscape Navigator 1.1 (circa 1995), in a form of HTTP header and corresponding HTML
meta HTTP-equivalent element, which allows document author to signal client to automatically reload the document or change to a specified URL after a specified timeout. It is the earliest polling mechanism available for the web, to let user see the latest update in a frequently-changing webpage, such as ones displaying stock price or weather forecast.
While this feature has not ever been standardized, it is supported by default in almost all later web browsers.
Use of meta refresh is discouraged by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), since unexpected refresh can disorient users. Meta refresh also impairs the web browser's "back" button in some browsers (including Internet Explorer 6 and before), although most modern browsers compensate for this (Internet Explorer 7 and higher, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome).
<head> to refresh page after 5 seconds:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5">
http://example.com/ after 5 seconds:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5; url=https://example.com/">
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=https://example.com/">
Meta refresh tags have some drawbacks:
- If a page redirects too quickly (less than 2-3 seconds), using the "Back" button on the next page may cause some browsers to move back to the redirecting page, whereupon the redirect will occur again. This is bad for usability, as this may cause a reader to be "stuck" on the last website.
- A reader may or may not want to be redirected to a different page, which can lead to user dissatisfaction or raise concerns about security.
Alternatives exist for both uses of meta refresh.
An alternative is to send an HTTP redirection status code, such as HTTP 301 or 302. It is the preferred way to redirect a user agent to a different page. This can be achieved by a special rule in the Web server or by means of a simple script on the Web server.
onload property of the
<body onload="window.location = 'http://example.com/'"> <!-- Your content here --> </body>
- "An Exploration of Dynamic Documents". Netscape Communications Corporation. Archived from the original on 2002-01-24. Retrieved 2020-04-24.
- Core Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 - W3C Note 6 November 2000
- Meta Refresh Tag, An About.com article covering the use of the tag for page reloading or redirection