Coding with Jesse

Detecting focus of a browser window

May 16th, 2007

If you have some constantly running Ajax or JavaScript updates on a page, it might be nice to pause these when the browser is minimized or in the background, or when the user switches to another tab. After all, there's no sense in using the user's CPU and network if they aren't even watching what you're doing.

To achieve this, we can use the window.onfocus and window.onblur events like this:

function onBlur() {
	document.body.className = 'blurred';
function onFocus(){
	document.body.className = 'focused';

if (/*@[email protected]*/false) { // check for Internet Explorer
	document.onfocusin = onFocus;
	document.onfocusout = onBlur;
} else {
	window.onfocus = onFocus;
	window.onblur = onBlur;

These events work in every major browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer 6/7, Safari & Opera).

Unfortunately, there's no way to tell with JavaScript if the browser is visible to the user. For example, they might be chatting on IM in a small window in front of the browser. You'll also find that the page is 'blurred' when you click into the location bar of the browser (except in Safari). You might want to display a message like "PAUSED" (think Super Mario Brothers) so people know why everything has stopped moving.

I've set up a demo page where you can try this out.

[Update October 14, 2008 - Seems the blur event handler would fire in Internet Explorer when the focus went from the body to an input or link. I've changed them to use document.onfocusin and document.onfocusout instead, which seems to work better. Now, putting focus from the body into an input causes them both to be fired, but one right after the other (onfocusout, onfocusin) resulting in a final "focused" state.]


1 . Frederico Padilha on May 16th, 2007

Frederico Padilha

Nicee, I guess that pages that use a lot of JS will do the users a great favor in disabling some stuff that keeps taking resources from the computer... But if only programmers where that considerate ahahaha =)!

2 . Georges Jentgen on May 16th, 2007

Georges Jentgen

Never thought about this before, but as I am currently programming a live website analyzer with heavy Ajax-use, this will come in very handy. So I will disable every AJAX-calls when they are not needed. Awesome! Thanks for the tip!

3 . Aaron Bassett on May 17th, 2007

Aaron Bassett

Your post has really got me thinking about how I could use the onblur event to enhance different applications I've been working on....or just how you could annoy your users, window.onblur=window.focus();
I even wrote a quick post about my experiments with this:

It doesn't just apply to AJAX or Javascript heavy pages either. With externalInterface we could use this technique to interact with Flash. Videos which pause when you switch applications is the first application that comes to mind.

4 . Jesse Skinner on May 17th, 2007

Jesse Skinner

@Aaron - nice idea. Not annoying users, of course, but pausing video. I wonder what else we can do with this...

5 . dandyna on May 17th, 2007


nifty tip, Jesse!

6 . Georges Jentgen on May 17th, 2007

Georges Jentgen

Another Idea I just got and what I will implement next into my PHP-Frameowork:

onBlur: graying out the page with some sort of "pause" message. Maybe a sitemap or some ads? :)

7 . Aaron Bassett on May 17th, 2007

Aaron Bassett

@Georges: I don't think it would be viable to put actual content into the onblur'd page because as soon as the user tries to click on say an ad the window will receive focus again and the ad will disapear.

Unless you made the user cancel the onblur'd page through a link or similar rather than just clearing it when the window gains focus. But this I think could become a nuisance (and perhaps confusing).

When I go back to a page I expect to be able to work with it right away. I don't expect to have to tell it that I want it to become active again :)

8 . Mika on January 10th, 2008


Hey man,

This really doesn't work in Firefox on works when you switch between Firefox windows, but not when switching to another application.


9 . Greeny on January 29th, 2008


Important point Jesse! Consider global energy savings if all websites would be optimized to use CPU only when focused.

10 . Al on March 26th, 2008


Have you tried to add a textarea to the document and then minimize the window when the textarea is still selected? Works in IE but not in Firefox. I tell this because in the tipical ajax chats, is useful to keep the focus in the textarea all the time, so the user can type another message without having to get the mouse. Problem is that with Firefox the onblur event doesn't happen at all because the browser thinks the focus is still in the textarea. Is there any workaround for this?

11 . vituko on December 24th, 2008


Very, very important question!!!

It doesnt work at least in firefox when switching tabs...

What about mouseout? It will always be fired... Maybe with a timeout : 5 -10 seconds to avoid perturbing.

mouseout -> background-mode (some processes may continue but not the heaviest : animations,...) and maybe let a "big sticky button" (don't leave foreground-mode), I can have a small window with focus and I'm still seeing my browser behind.
It can be interesting to allow progressives modes or configure witch widgets let running (monitoring widgets,...)

For web applications, it's a kernel question, but... nowadays I have no time... to test.

Good post


12 . Stanislav Bozhkov on April 1st, 2009

Stanislav Bozhkov

It was useful 10x.

13 . Manish Dubey on May 27th, 2009

Manish Dubey

It works in firefox if u use document.onfocus and document.onblur instead of windows.onfocus and windows.onblur

but again too work in chrome u need windows.onfocus and windows.onblur

Its working in safari as said but I want a script where I can get the change of tabs too in safari.

Any help plz email at [email protected]

14 . hari on August 3rd, 2009


Its simply great idea.


15 . karthik on September 7th, 2009


nice thoughts...

what if the user clicks on the status bar(which many of us habitual of clicking system time, expanding status icons etc...) when browser window continues to show our application running??? wudn't our dependency on focus management cause problem when application is not actually out of focus but just technically??? for ex. we pause video when user watches it but we do pause because we got onblur...

16 . wijey on November 8th, 2009


big thanks to you bro... This is really helpfull

17 . andy frusciante on November 15th, 2009

andy frusciante

wowww.. this is what i've been searching. there is something 'sucks' bout the IE compatiblity. n i found it now

18 . Juergen Riemer on November 23rd, 2009

Juergen Riemer

Hi Jesse,

focus and blur will fire on any such event in the dom (depending on the browser). This means every time you click on a different elements e.g. checkbox in the very same page you'll have a chance to fire a blur/focus sequence.
I would not base any important behaviour on blur/focus events of the window/self object

19 . Jack on March 23rd, 2010


Good stuff! Btw, instead of using that ugly IE detection code, you could consider this instead:

if (!+"\v1") {
// we have IE

20 . Jason on July 17th, 2010


I know this is an old thread, but it's still a good one. I used your onBlur function to create a "screensaver" for when my users have the browser open to my page, but the focus is on another program like Photoshop. Then, I make them click to get out of the screen saver mode so that I can display whatever I want and be guaranteed that they get it.

Thanks for the concise script and explanation.


21 . Gerrit van Aaken on August 13rd, 2010

Gerrit van Aaken

Unfortunately, as Juergen mentioned, all versions of Internet Explorer fire an "out" event, immediately followed by an "in" event, every time you click on any element on the page. So your solution is not for everybody!

22 . arush on February 22nd, 2011


Why does that matter? if you wanted a seamless experience as if the blur/focus glitch never happened, you could just put a rule to say if the blur/focus event (due to clicking on an element) lasted for less than, say 5milliseconds, then act as if it never happened. This can easily be achieved with setTimeout()

23 . Hari on May 21st, 2011


Hi Jesse,

you have got very nice stuff. Appreciated.
I have a question which is related to browser close event. I have a client who is into portal development and the site has signout option. usually users are not clicking on the signout link instead they are closing the browser directly.with which it is affecting the performance. so the plan is to prompt the user whenever trying to close the browser or using Alt+F4.(but not on everytime page load). so i have a working script which does everything what i need and mentioned above, but it is working only in IE6. we do have requirement for IE7/8/9. so what i noticed is IE7/8/9 is not supporting the window.event.ClientX<0 && window.event.clientY<0 which helps me in firing the onbeforeunload and onunlod upon refresh.

Please help me out if you have an alternate soln or a workaround for this.

24 . Jesse Skinner on May 21st, 2011

Jesse Skinner

@Hari - Are you doing something with the clientX and clientY mouse coordinates? The onbeforeunload event is often triggered without a mouse, eg. clicking the back button or a keyboard shortcut. If possible, I'd suggest finding a way to handle the event without those properties.

25 . Jesse Skinner on May 21st, 2011

Jesse Skinner

@Hari - I'd also suggest addressing the session problem directly if you can, rather than bother your users. Perhaps have a 20 minute timeout and delete old sessions automatically?

26 . Revolt on June 15th, 2011


Great script but it doesn't detects if the window is blured before loading the page
For example, open a window and resize it so you can see your browser in the background and refresh your "demo page" and quickly before it finishes loading switch to the resized window and you'll see that the "demo page" considers it focused.

27 . David on August 12nd, 2011


This is great. In cases where your markup/JS is added to a host page that you don't have direct control over, you may want to honor any onblur/focus callbacks that exist for that page:

var oldOnFocus = window.onfocus && typeof window.onfocus === 'function' ? window.onfocus : function () {};
window.onfocus = function () { oldOnFocus(); onFocus(); };

28 . Daniyalzade on August 30th, 2011


You might want to modify the name of the tab onfocus/blur so that with tabs it is still possible to see the effect. In my local copy I modified the script as follows:

function onBlur() {
document.body.className = 'blurred';
document.title = 'blurred';
function onFocus(){
document.body.className = 'focused';
document.title = 'focused';

29 . Gerrit van Aaken on September 19th, 2011

Gerrit van Aaken


Now I’ve got something like this:

if ($.browser.msie) {
document.onfocusin = onFocusCheck;
document.onfocusout = onBlurCheck;
} else {
window.onfocus = onFocus;
window.onblur = onBlur;

function onBlur() {

function onFocus(){

function onFocusCheck() {
var now = new Date();
lastIn = now.getTime();
if ((lastIn - lastOut) > 100) {

function onBlurCheck() {
var now = new Date();
lastOut = now.getTime();
if (!timeTaking) {
timeTaking = true;
setTimeout(onBlurCheckAgain, 100);

function onBlurCheckAgain() {
var now = new Date();
rightnow = now.getTime();
if ((rightnow - lastIn) > 1200) { onBlur(); }
timeTaking = false;

30 . Azaz on December 29th, 2011


Nice Post Mate, Is there any way we can prevent blur event on location bar or search bar? I am writing a firefox extension and having this issue cant figure out any way to prevetn location bar or event search bar. Any help will be appriciated.

31 . vishesh on April 24th, 2012


waste everything

32 . Eric Mesquita on February 27th, 2013

Eric Mesquita

Very nice, but did you notice that onBlur and onFocus are executed twice? Try this:
function onBlur() {
document.body.className = 'blurred';
function onFocus(){
document.body.className = 'focused';
I try figure it out but i had no success.

Comments are closed, but I'd still love to hear your thoughts.