Is Chrome's Stop Button Useless?

Is Chrome's Stop Button Useless?
4 min read
17 May 2022

You ever just want to yell stop it at your web browser when it's acting up. There is actually a button that's supposed to get the browser to do exactly that, the stop button. But if you've only ever used modern browsers, you might not even really have noticed it. It's typically a little X that occupies around the same space as the refresh button, and disappears once the page is finished loading.

But the stop button is far from a modern invention. In fact, it was included in both Internet Explorer 1.0 and Netscape Navigator 1.0. It was really important.Is Chrome's Stop Button Useless?

Back then, the stop button did pretty much what it does now, stop the webpage from loading. But why exactly would you want that if you clicked on the link to begin with?

Well, back in the old days, we were all using those painfully slow 28 or 56 cave. If you were lucky, dial-up connections. Meaning that webpages took a long time to load.

Although plain text often loaded fairly quickly, images and GIFs could take forever. We're talking like line by line. Sometimes you just wanted to read the information on the page without all the messy graphics.

The slow speeds of the time also meant that just trying to load one webpage could saturate your connection. Not ideal if you were trying to download something in the background, like spending two days on an apps or song. 

Not to mention that poorly optimized webpages could easily crash the famously unstable Internet Explorer. Even if that didn't happen, a page with lots of rich media could hog memory and CPU cycle slowing down other things on your PC that weren't even related to the internet, like making my Solitaire end screen slow to an unceremonious stutter.

The stop button was useful for getting problematic webpages to just stop what they were doing. But nowadays, high speed connections are the norm and our computers are usually powerful enough to handle a whole bunch of complex pages at once without breaking a sweat. So the stop button has declined in importance, but have you noticed that if you do try to use it, it's often the case that nothing seems to happen.

The reason that the stop button often doesn't seem to do much is because it's not actually designed to stop all activity on a webpage. You see, HTML, the language that webpages are written in, is pretty simple. It tells the browser where to put text, links and graphics. It also provides the addresses where the browser can grab elements like sound and images. Is Chrome's Stop Button Useless?The stop button can stop the HTML itself from loading. Or if that's already done, stop the browser from fetching additional resources it needs, like  images. The problem is that modern webpages are made up of much more than just bare HTML. Instead, most of them also run scripts that do everything from enabling custom webpage layouts to processing information that you enter to serving you advertisements.

These scripts are basically programs that run inside your browser. As such browsers don't wanna just terminate them suddenly as this could break much of the pages functionality or make the browser process itself unstable. Instead the stop button more or less makes your browser politely ask running scripts to stop what they're doing when they can, if it's not too much trouble, please. Kind of like a letter from the United Nations.

But that doesn't mean the stop button is completely useless. It can sometimes still stop really irritating webpage elements from interfering with the content you actually want, such as paywalls, as long as you can hit the stop button at exactly the right time. But you might have better luck at the county fair. 

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Kelly 3.7K
I'm your source for the latest in tech news and updates. Stay informed with my articles on the most exciting developments in the tech world
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