Skip to main content
Version: 6.x

Navigation lifecycle

In a previous section, we worked with a stack navigator that has two screens (Home and Details) and learned how to use navigation.navigate('RouteName') to navigate between the routes.

An important question in this context is: what happens with Home when we navigate away from it, or when we come back to it? How does a route find out that a user is leaving it or coming back to it?

If you are coming to react-navigation from a web background, you may assume that when user navigates from route A to route B, A will unmount (its componentWillUnmount is called) and A will mount again when user comes back to it. While these React lifecycle methods are still valid and are used in react-navigation, their usage differs from the web. This is driven by more complex needs of mobile navigation.

Example scenario

Consider a stack navigator with screens A and B. After navigating to A, its componentDidMount is called. When pushing B, its componentDidMount is also called, but A remains mounted on the stack and its componentWillUnmount is therefore not called.

When going back from B to A, componentWillUnmount of B is called, but componentDidMount of A is not because A remained mounted the whole time.

Similar results can be observed (in combination) with other navigators as well. Consider a tab navigator with two tabs, where each tab is a stack navigator:

function App() {
return (
<Tab.Screen name="First">
{() => (
<SettingsStack.Screen name="Profile" component={ProfileScreen} />
<Tab.Screen name="Second">
{() => (
<HomeStack.Screen name="Home" component={HomeScreen} />
<HomeStack.Screen name="Details" component={DetailsScreen} />

We start on the HomeScreen and navigate to DetailsScreen. Then we use the tab bar to switch to the SettingsScreen and navigate to ProfileScreen. After this sequence of operations is done, all 4 of the screens are mounted! If you use the tab bar to switch back to the HomeStack, you'll notice you'll be presented with the DetailsScreen - the navigation state of the HomeStack has been preserved!

React Navigation lifecycle events

Now that we understand how React lifecycle methods work in React Navigation, let's answer the question we asked at the beginning: "How do we find out that a user is leaving (blur) it or coming back to it (focus)?"

React Navigation emits events to screen components that subscribe to them. We can listen to focus and blur events to know when a screen comes into focus or goes out of focus respectively.


function Profile({ navigation }) {
React.useEffect(() => {
const unsubscribe = navigation.addListener('focus', () => {
// Screen was focused
// Do something

return unsubscribe;
}, [navigation]);

return <ProfileContent />;

See Navigation events for more details on the available events and the API usage.

Instead of adding event listeners manually, we can use the useFocusEffect hook to perform side effects. It's like React's useEffect hook, but it ties into the navigation lifecycle.


import { useFocusEffect } from '@react-navigation/native';

function Profile() {
React.useCallback(() => {
// Do something when the screen is focused

return () => {
// Do something when the screen is unfocused
// Useful for cleanup functions
}, [])

return <ProfileContent />;

If you want to render different things based on if the screen is focused or not, you can use the useIsFocused hook which returns a boolean indicating whether the screen is focused.


  • While React's lifecycle methods are still valid, React Navigation adds more events that you can subscribe to through the navigation prop.
  • You may also use the useFocusEffect or useIsFocused hooks.