Why do browsers clear the address bar if the navigation was canceled while connecting?

When I enter an address into a browser and press enter, and then cancel (ESC) while the server is still being contacted (before the browser receives the HTML and the title changes), the browser clears the address bar, and I can't get the entered address back. I just tried this in Chrome and Firefox, but I think it applies to every browser I've seen.

This is especially annoying when I've just entered a very long, complicated address manually, or am using a mobile device (where this happens more frequently because sites load slower on flaky mobile connections).

Why is this? Is it due to security reasons? Is it to make the address bar reflect the current page? Is it an oversight or intentional?

  • I always thought 'escape' commonly clears text boxes. That doesn't seem abnormal behavior.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 22:07
  • Try it, excape just clears only the selection. The text remains (just tried it on my Mac). If you enter an URL to the address bar, press enter, and then after a second ESC, it remains too. If you press enter and then immediately ESC, it goes away.
    – jdm
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 7:56

1 Answer 1


Even if I couldn't reproduce the behavior you're describing, my browsers (Chrome, IE, Safari, Opera and Firefox) all continued to show the aborted destination URL, it doesn't mean that you're wrong. Just that our browser behave different.

My idea is that the destination URL should be present when you have entered it and are on your way to load it. But if you can't reach the destination server, when aborting the request, nothing is displayed in the viewport of the browser and the URL field is emptied since it does represent a place on the internet | intranet. If you havn't loaded the page, the URL field should be emptied since you hav not loaded anything (yet).

So, I'd say YES to your second question as well, it makes sense not to show a URL at a place where you are not. It is, I'd imagine, intended by the browser manufacturers.


Content on the web is downloaded to the device requesting content from a web server, but we'd like to think in daily language that we browse to a place on the internet - which we are not actually doing.

  • I agree with your from a technical perspective. However from a user's perspective it would be friendlier to keep the URL in the address bar. By using visual clues it should be possible to indicate that the URL is not loaded, yet still allow for a rapid re-try.
    – user12741
    Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 13:23
  • @VincentvanScherpenseel True that. I was thinking of using the back-button to try to reach the resource again, but I left that out in the answer. Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 13:25
  • 3
    An important feature with keeping the address is that it enables the user to check that the address doesn't contain any typos, www.google.c0m for example Commented Jan 19, 2013 at 1:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.