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Viewing Source Code: How To View A Site’s Code

Viewing source code is an important skill. If you have ever considered creating your own website, you probably need to know how to view a website’s code. Since the early days of the internet, code has been used to program a lot of its aspects. A site’s code could be described as an “under the hood” aspect. That’s because it is not visible to normal site visitors. This code turns your site into the great experiences that everyday visitors can have. Learning how to view a website’s code is the first step in understanding how that great experience came to be. 

webpage source code

The Purpose of Website Code

Website code usually consists of HTML, JavaScript, and other coding languages. The good news is that as technology has evolved, writing that code has become much simpler. For beginners, learning these coding languages will take up lots of time. Some casual users just want to have a blog online without dedicating a lot of time for coding it. That is why there are many website builders out there which build website code for you. Of course, they will usually charge a small monthly fee. WordPress is a primary example of a website builder. There are guides that can help you design a WordPress website.

While some businesses prefer to hire a professional website developer, others take matters into their own hands, due to rapidly advancing technology. Website code is becoming more accessible to the everyday user, and learning HTML code may not be for everybody.

Still, the purpose of website code is to have a framework for the website, and website builders still utilize code, while making it simpler for everyday users. Coding a website yourself will give you much more freedom at the expense of learning a new skill (if you have not yet learned it), and many are willing to do so. Of course, you must first decide yourself on how you wish to proceed. If you are a beginner to website development, it is best to first learn how to view a website’s code, which we will go over next. 

what is source code

How To View Code in The Most Common Browsers

Viewing code is a very simple process in the five most common web browsers. We will go over how to do so. Some of the hotkeys may repeat themselves, as viewing code has become universal on many of these browsers. The keyboard keys correspond to those on a Windows machine (except for Apple Safari.)

Google Chrome

  • Press Ctrl + U on the keyboard, or right-click on an empty space on the web page and select “View page source” from the pop-up menu.

Mozilla Firefox

  • Press Ctrl + U on the keyboard, or right-click on a blank part of the web page and select “View page source” from the pop-up menu.

Apple Safari

  • Press Command + Option + U on the keyboard, or right-click on an empty space of the web page and select “Show page source” from the pop-up menu. 

Microsoft Edge

  • Press Ctrl + U on your keyboard, or press F12 on your keyboard. After doing either one, select the “Elements” tab at the top right window. 


  • Right-click on an empty space of the web page and select “View source” from the menu that appears. 


  • Press Ctrl + U on your keyboard, or right-click on a blank part of the web page and select “Page source” from the menu that appears. 

For the most common web browsers, this is how to view a website’s code. As you can see, the majority of the web browsers above have a very similar way of viewing website code. Sometimes, it may not be possible to view a website’s code. This usually happens in Internet Explorer, which I would not recommend using, but it can happen if there is a high cache, or low system resources. A high cache can be cleared out by going into Internet Explorer’s settings, and  low system resources can be fixed if you close programs that are not currently in use by your machine. 

how to view source code in chrome

What Is Source Code?

Source code is code created by a programmer that can be read and comprehended by a human. It can be created by a text editor, or a development environment. If you wanted to know how to view a website’s code, you probably want to know about source code as well. Source code is the foundation for creating software, as well as it being used to customize many aspects of software. Installation instructions are an example of being able to customize using source code. Next, we will discuss the difference between open source code and proprietary source code.

Open Source Code

Open source code is code from a program that has source code available for other developers to use as they see fit. It is very common on the internet. Usually, this type of software is free and readily available, as collaboration is its main goal. It is important to know how to view a website’s code, since this type of code is viewable and editable by anyone. Accessing open source code is the same as accessing website code, so the hotkeys on the keyboard remain the same as the ones we talked about earlier.

A good example of software with open source code can be LibreOffice, which is a program similar to Microsoft Office, as it is also an office suite program. The difference is that LibreOffice is free, and the code is open source, meaning that developers can freely edit it if it will benefit the program.

Another very popular example is Linux. Linux is a free operating system that has greatly improved over the years. Because of programs like Linux and LibreOffice, normal non-developers have benefited very greatly. The internet has evolved through user collaboration on programs like those. Many people doing application or web development use open source code due to its benefits. When doing application development, considering your options is crucial, so take open source code in your consideration.

viewing source code

Proprietary Source Code

If you want to know how to view a website’s code, there are simple answers. On the other hand, viewing proprietary source code is more difficult. Now, let us ask, what is proprietary source code?  Proprietary source code is the source code that belongs to the owner, and is not free to develop. This type of code is patented and not usually shipped available for you to see when you have installed the software. So, it becomes a challenge to view the proprietary code. The license that we have to accept when opening an application for the first time is the agreement we set ourselves bound to. We legally promise not to use the copyrighted material. The authors are the only ones who can use the code.

Examples of Programs with Proprietary Source Code

Some examples of programs with proprietary source code are Windows, Microsoft Office, and Adobe Photoshop. These are some of the most widely used programs in the world, and their code is not open source. Their code is very valuable, which is why the authors of these programs have taken legal precautionary procedures to protect it. Even though the code is copyrighted, it does not stop some users from committing piracy.  One of the most ironic things about proprietary software such as Microsoft Office, is how it benefits from piracy. Instead of some users using an open source Office alternative, they illegally download Microsoft Office.

While Microsoft loses money with this illegal action being performed, they benefit because programs such as LibreOffice, the open source alternative, are not being used. Microsoft’s market share will not reduce to a competitor, they just lose out on the profit from the sale of the company. Since we have discussed both proprietary and open source code, it is up to you to decide whichever one you want to use if you ever make a program. 

how to view a website's code

Overall Importance of Viewing Source Code 

When learning how to view a website’s code, users may be confused at first. Much of the code they will see may be written in machine language. Do not worry though, as anyone starting out in website development will experience machine language in some form at some point. The overall importance of viewing code, is that the exposure to it may spark an interest in learning more about how the website is planned out. Different browsers will have different ways to view the code, but for the most part, they are similar to each other.

Then, if you choose to dive deeper, you can learn about source code, and how different programs are patented or copyrighted. Open source programs can be contributed to by anyone, not just the original authors. They can be a great way for a collaboration to make a great website or software. It is amazing how much one can learn just from an interest in how to view a website’s code. Ultimately, there are plenty of helpful resources on the internet that can help all users to view code, and learn more about it.

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