Detect when user clicks the Back button

Posted on 2008-10-30
Last Modified: 2008-10-30
How do I do this in JavaScript?

It is not my intent to disable or interefere with this process.  In fact, it needs to work -- I just need to know when it happens is all.

Solution must work in IE and Mozilla, minimum.

Question by:knowlton
  • 2
  • 2
LVL 15

Accepted Solution

Tomarse111 earned 480 total points
ID: 22842715
There is no JS method of physically detecting when the back button has been pressed unfortunately. The only method I could think of is by using some sort of cookie method on subsequently pages and then detecting if they exist on pages prior to the cookie creation / modification.

Looking around I found this script which does this sort of thing. This is not fool proof though, for example, a page redisplay from cache uses the same measured events, in the same order, as a "back" button click.

Have a play with it and see if it helps.

<script type="text/javascript">

<!-- Copyright 2007 Bontrager Connection, LLC


// Cookie's name may be changed.

var CookieName = "tempFocus";

// Change number of seconds if needed.

var PageLoadTimeSeconds = 3;

// Replace alert(...) in function HandleNewFocus(), below, 

//    with your custom "'back' button was clicked" handling.

function HandleNewFocus()


alert('It seems the "back" button was clicked.');


// No customizations required in the rest of this JavaScript.

var now = new Date();

var Milliseconds = parseInt(now.getTime() / 1000);

var CurrentCookie = new String();

var FocusLaunched = false;

var BackHandled = false;

function HandleCookie()


if(BackHandled) { return; }

BackHandled = true;

var beforemillis = parseInt(CurrentCookie);

if(beforemillis > 1) {

   var aftermillis = Milliseconds - beforemillis;

   if(aftermillis > PageLoadTimeSeconds) { HandleNewFocus(); }


else { SetCookie('loaded'); }


function LoadFunctions()


CurrentCookie = GetCookie();

if(CurrentCookie == 'loaded') { return; }




function Loaded() { LoadFunctions(); }

function Unloaded() { 

var again = new Date();

Milliseconds = parseInt(again.getTime() / 1000);



function Focused() {

if(FocusLaunched) { return; }

FocusLaunched = true;



function SetCookie(v) {

CurrentCookie = v;

document.cookie = CookieName + '=' + v;


function GetCookie() {

var c_content = '';

if(document.cookie.length > 0) {

   var c_name = CookieName + '=';

   var c_begin = document.cookie.indexOf(c_name);

   var c_end = 0;

   if(c_begin > -1) {

      c_begin += c_name.length;

      c_end = document.cookie.indexOf(";",c_begin);

      if(c_end < c_begin) { c_end = document.cookie.length; }

      c_content = document.cookie.substring(c_begin,c_end);



return c_content;


window.onload = Loaded;

window.onunload = Unloaded;

window.onfocus = Focused;


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Author Comment

ID: 22842769
What about hooking into IE or Mozilla?  Don't these browsers expose an API to javascript?
LVL 36

Assisted Solution

by:Loganathan Natarajan
Loganathan Natarajan earned 20 total points
ID: 22842807
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 22842855
As far as i'm aware you cannot Hook into IE or FF to control or detect the back button natively through JS. The cookie method i think is your best bet (although not perfect) but one of the experts might tell you differently :)

Author Comment

ID: 22842997
What about using Sessions?

Not to detect a back click, but to record where I  just was, and when I click the back button, where I am coming from to return to the last page I was on.

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