How can I make setInterval also work when a tab is inactive in Chrome?

On most browsers inactive tabs have low priority execution and this can affect JavaScript timers.

If the values of your transition were calculated using real time elapsed between frames instead fixed increments on each interval, you not only workaround this issue but also can achieve a smother animation by using requestAnimationFrame as it can get up to 60fps if the processor isn’t very busy.

Here’s a vanilla JavaScript example of an animated property transition using requestAnimationFrame:

var target = document.querySelector('div#target')
var startedAt, duration = 3000
var domain = [-100, window.innerWidth]
var range = domain[1] - domain[0]

function start() {
  startedAt =

function update() {
  let elapsedTime = - startedAt

  // playback is a value between 0 and 1
  // being 0 the start of the animation and 1 its end
  let playback = elapsedTime / duration

  if (playback > 0 && playback < 1) {
  	// Queue the next frame
  } else {
  	// Wait for a while and restart the animation
  	setTimeout(start, duration/10)

function updateTarget(playback) {
  // Uncomment the line below to reverse the animation
  // playback = 1 - playback

  // Update the target properties based on the playback position
  let position = domain[0] + (playback * range) = position + 'px' = position + 'px' = 'scale(' + playback * 3 + ')'

body {
  overflow: hidden;

div {
    position: absolute;
    white-space: nowrap;
<div id="target">...HERE WE GO</div>

For Background Tasks (non-UI related)

@UpTheCreek comment:

Fine for presentation issues, but still
there are some things that you need to keep running.

If you have background tasks that needs to be precisely executed at given intervals, you can use HTML5 Web Workers. Take a look at Möhre’s answer below for more details…

CSS vs JS “animations”

This problem and many others could be avoided by using CSS transitions/animations instead of JavaScript based animations which adds a considerable overhead. I’d recommend this jQuery plugin that let’s you take benefit from CSS transitions just like the animate() methods.

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