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How to detect when the browser URL changes with vanilla JS

Yesterday, we looked at how to update the browser URL without refreshing the page using the history.pushState() method.

Today, let’s look how to detect when the URL changes and do things as a result.

The popstate event

If you use history.pushState() to update the URL, when the user clicks the forward or backward buttons, the URL will change but the UI will not.

You can use the popstate method to detect those URL changes and make UI changes as needed.

window.addEventListener('popstate', function (event) {
	// The URL changed...

Yesterday, we learned that the first property passed into the history.pushState() method is state. You can access that property on the event object.

window.addEventListener('popstate', function (event) {
	// Log the state data to the console

Moving forwards and backwards through History

You can also move forward and backward through the browser’s history with a few other methods in the History API.

The history.back() method goes back one page, and the history.forward() method goes forward one page.

You can jump forward or backwards more than one page using the history.go() method. Pass in the number of pages to jump. Use a positive number to go forward, and negative number to go backwards.

// go back 2 pages

// Go forward 3 pages

Browser compatibility

The popstate event, and the back(), forward(), and go() methods all work in all modern browsers, and back to IE 10.