Open and Close URL via R

Deepanshu Bhalla Add Comment ,
This tutorial explains you how you can open and close multiple tabs in browser via R. This is useful when you need to do some automation which requires opening URL and refreshing the web page and getting content from it. I use it for refreshing GOOGLEFINANCE( ) TODAY( ) NOW() formulas in google sheets so that I can pull real time stock prices.
Open Browser via R

The below R function allows flexibility around built-in browseURL( ) function. It supports the following arguments -

  1. URL Specify URL which you want to visit in browser. You can also pass multiple URLs in a character vector.
  2. browserName By default it is blank which means URL to be opened in your default browser. Incase you want to open it in a specific browser, you can pass Chrome or Edge
  3. close If you want to close the tab which you opened. By default it is disabled. You can enable it by passing close = T
  4. Sleep How many seconds you want to wait before closing the active tab

Make sure to install and load winsendkeys R package before using the below user defined function.


browserFun <- function(URL = "", 
                   browserName = NULL,
                   Sleep = 20,
                   close = F) {
  if (is.null(browserName) && close) {
    stop("Browser name is required when close = TRUE")
  # Path of Google Chrome / MS Edge
  if (is.null(browserName)) {
    browser = getOption("browser")
  } else if(tolower(browserName) == "chrome") {
    browser = "C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Google\\Chrome\\Application\\chrome.exe"
  } else if (tolower(browserName) == "edge") {
    browser = "C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Microsoft\\Edge\\Application\\msedge.exe"
  # Open URL
  if(length(URL) > 1) {
    lapply(URL,function(x) browseURL(as.character(x), browser = browser))
  } else {
    browseURL(URL, browser = browser)
  # Close URL
  if(close) {
    # Send Keys
     if(tolower(browserName) == "chrome") {
    } else if (tolower(browserName) == "edge") {
    if(length(URL) > 1) {
    } else {

Open URL in your default browser
browserFun(URL = '')
Open Multiple URLs in your default browser
Multiple URLs will be shown in multiple tabs in the browser.
URL = c('', '')
browserFun(URL = URL)
Open URL in Google Chrome
browserFun(URL = '', browserName = "Chrome")
For Microsoft Edge, you can use browserName = "Edge"
Close URL after opening for 5 seconds
browserFun(URL = '', browserName = "Edge", Sleep = 5, close = T)
Close Multiple URLs after opening for 15 seconds
URL = c('', '')
browserFun(URL = URL, browserName = "Edge", Sleep = 15, close = T)
Important Note
Location of executable files (.exe) of chrome or edge could be different in your system. If that is the case you need to change the below file location in the function. You can also add other browsers like Firefox or Safari.
"C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Google\\Chrome\\Application\\chrome.exe"
"C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Microsoft\\Edge\\Application\\msedge.exe"
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About Author:
Deepanshu Bhalla

Deepanshu founded ListenData with a simple objective - Make analytics easy to understand and follow. He has over 10 years of experience in data science. During his tenure, he worked with global clients in various domains like Banking, Insurance, Private Equity, Telecom and HR.

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