How to open a URL in a new tab (and not a new window)

Matthew C.

The Problem

You have a link element pointing to a website that you want to open in a new tab when it’s clicked. This is useful if you have multiple links to external websites that a user might navigate to, as it means less back-button clicking and page reloads.

The Solution

The target attribute of a link element specifies where to open the linked URL. If you set target to "_blank", the URL will usually open in a new tab. Users can configure their browsers to open links in a new window.

<a href="" target="_blank">Google</a>

Note that there is a security concern with using target="_blank": The linked page gets partial access to the linking page through the window.opener object, a vulnerability that can be exploited for a phishing attack.

For example, a user on a social media website may click a link to a phishing website that changes the window location of the linking page to a fake website that mimics the log-in page of the real social media website. If the user doesn’t realize that the website URL has changed, they may assume they were logged out and try to log in again, giving the attacker a chance to steal their login details. Read more about this in the article Target=”_blank” - the most underestimated vulnerability ever.

To fix this vulnerability, you can add rel="noopener noreferrer" to the link. The noopener keyword tells the browser to set window.opener to null so that the linked page does not get partial access to the linking page. The noreferrer header tells the browser to omit the Referer header to prevent sending referrer information.

Newer browsers that implicitly set rel="noopener" to links using target="_blank" have largely overcome this vulnerability. You can see which browsers support this behavior here.

If you need to open a URL in a new tab using JavaScript, you can use the open() method of the Window interface:'', '_blank', 'noopener, noreferrer');

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