Years ago, I used Lynx (the Web browser). And it had a neat feature: you could follow a link normally, or you could specify that you wanted a non-cached copy. Regular link loading, or link reloading. As the users' guide for Lynx 2.8.6 says:

The NOCACHE ('x' or 'X') command can be used in lieu of ACTIVATE (Return or right-arrow) to request an uncached copy and new rendition for the current link, or resubmission of a FORM, if a cache from a previous request or submission exits. The request or submission will include Pragma: no-cache and Cache-Control: no-cache in its headers. Note that FORMs with POST content will be resubmitted regardless of whether the NOCACHE or ACTIVATE command is used....

This seems such an obvious feature to have — and, as demonstrated, it exists in at least one browser — that it seems surprising to me that Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft don't seem to have such a feature (say, as a right- (or command-) click menu option). Nor, in fact, does there seem even to be a Firefox extension for it.

So, my questions:

  1. Is there something blocking implementation of this idea in modern graphical browsers? Some specific reason it can't feasibly exist in them even though it can in Lynx?
  2. Is there some reason this feature is not necessary or desired in modern graphical browsers? If so, does that reason apply to Lynx?
  3. As I mentioned, I couldn't find a Firefox or Chrome extension (or built-in feature) like this. Does one exist that I'm missing?
  • Knowing older browsers , I would wonder if what this Lynx did was (sort of) the opposite of how it works now. That lynx did Not refresh all the stuff normally. like the temp settings in IE options "everytime I visit the page" or "everytime I start the IE" or "never" , which can make even a modern browser Many times faster, because it does not "refresh everything". Now with all the bandwidth they have a tendancy to refresh way more of the page normally. Setting to "Not refresh" the page (from the web), is now setting it off defaults. – Psycogeek Feb 10 '12 at 10:55

My understanding is that when your browser sends a request for a resources the following takes place (roughly):

  1. The browser sends a request for the resource
  2. The server responds with the last time that resource was modified
  3. If that time is later than the version that the browser has cached, the browser downloads the resource again.

If you want to see this taking place (in not so much detail), open the developer panel in Chrome (using Ctrl+Shift+J), and reload a page. You will see that even for resources that were cached (under size, it will say from cache) there was a request for them.

Because the browser will update if and only if needed, there is no need to generally force a reload of all of the resources (the exception is if the data somehow gets corrupted, and then clearing the cache may solve the problem).

So to answer your questions in summary:

  1. Nope
  2. It will mostly hurt, and only very rarely help (see above)
  3. Not that I can find, but if you find this behavior causing errors, you can just clear your cache manually.

Note: I am not 100% about how items 1 and 2 acutally take place, but something that accomplishes those two things takes place, though the implementation might be differnt.

  • +1, thanks, though it doesn't clarify why Lynx had the option and graphical browsers don't. – msh210 Feb 10 '12 at 15:38

In at least some of the browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Epiphany) that I know of holding Shift while clicking Refresh (or Shift+F5), forces the browser to ignore the cache and request all resources afresh.

But you can't invoke this option if the page isn't or wasn't already loaded.

  • Are you sure you don't mean CTRL+F5 ? That works in every browser that I'm aware of. – shanabus Feb 10 '12 at 14:19
  • Thanks. I suppose this is an answer to part of my question 3 ("no" to "Does [a built-in feature] exist that I'm missing?"). – msh210 Feb 10 '12 at 15:40

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