How to Get the Previous Page URL in JavaScript

Last updated on August 24, 2022
How to Get the Previous Page URL in JavaScript

We can get the previous page URL in JavaScript with the document.referrer property.

For example:

const previousPageUrl = document.referrer;

console.log(`Previously visited page URL: ${previousPageUrl}`);

document.referrer is a readonly property that returns the URL of the page used to navigate to the current page.

Here's a more practical example:

index.html

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <title>Coding Beauty Tutorial</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <a href="get-last-page.html">Link</a>
  </body>
</html>

get-last-page.html

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <title>Coding Beauty Tutorial</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    You visited this page from: <span id="previous-page"></span>
    <script src="get-last-page.js"></script>
  </body>
</html>

get-last-page.js

const previousPage = document.getElementById('previous-page');

previousPage.textContent = document.referrer;
Showing the previous page URL on the visited page.
Displaying the previous page URL on the visited page.

Limitations of document.referrer

The document.referrer property doesn't always work though. It typically gives the correct value in cases where the user clicked a link on the previous page to navigate to the current page.

But if the user visited the URL directly by typing into the address bar or using a bookmark, document.referrer will have no value.

The previous page URL can't be displayed for a direct visit.
The previous page URL can't be displayed for a direct visit.

document.referrer also won't have a value if the clicked link was marked with the rel="noreferrer" attribute. Setting rel to noreferrer specifically prevents referral information from being passed to the webpage being linked to.

index.html

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <title>Coding Beauty Tutorial</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <a href="get-last-page.html">Link</a>
    <a href="get-last-page" rel="noreferrer">Link (noreferrer)</a>
  </body>
</html>
"rel=noreferrer" prevents access to referral information
"rel=noreferrer" prevents access to referral information.

Perhaps you would like to get the previous page URL so that you can navigate to that page. You can do this easily with the history.back() method.

get-last-page.js

...
const backButton = document.getElementById('back');

backButton.onclick = () => {
  history.back();
};

get-last-page.html

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <title>Coding Beauty Tutorial</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    You visited this page from: <span id="last-page"></span> <br />
    <br />
    <button id="back">Back</button>
    <script src="get-last-page.js"></script>
  </body>
</html>
Navigating to the previous page.
Navigating to the previous page.

See also