Stop Firefox from Treating Your Computer’s Backspace Key Like a Back Button

The scenario: You’re writing the most insightful Facebook post ever written. You’ve spent many minutes thinking about exactly how you want to share your uniquely perceptive commentary on society, writing and rewriting the words until you’ve reached absolute post perfection. You’re just about to hit Post when you notice a minor typo, so you hit the Backspace key to move your cursor back to the offending character. Suddenly you notice the little icon on the browser tab start to spin. Before you can scream “Nooooooo…” your tab reloads with the previous page you were on and all that brilliance is suddenly gone. 🙁

This happens all too frequently in Firefox because they have set it up so when your cursor is not actively in a text box the default behavior for your Backspace key is the same as hitting the Back button.

It happened to me one too many times recently and I finally decided to see if there was a way to stop this behavior.

The good news: There is! The bad news: It’s not available through the Tools > Options menu. Fortunately it’s still a pretty easy fix.

In your Firefox location bar, type in:

about:config

A ridiculously overwrought warning page comes up that you can just ignore. (This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful, but if somehow you do manage to break your browser, you can just reinstall it.)

Click through to Firefox’s Configuration Editor, which has a ton of preferences you can modify. For this one, search for “backspace” (without the quotes) and it will return the browser.backspace_option setting. By default it’s set to 0, which is the Back button behavior.

Double-click the entry and a dialog box will pop up that lets you change the setting. You can enter 1 to have it scroll up the page or 2 to have it do nothing.

That’s it! You may now return to being brilliant on Facebook… 🙂

Learn more about how to use the Configure Editor to add, change, and reset preferences in this Firefox Help article. >>

See a comprehensive list of Firefox preferences in this mozillaZine wiki article. >>

You may also be interested in:

Video Tutorial: Undo a Closed Firefox Tab

Elizabeth Kricfalusi

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