Disable Backspace Key in Your Browser for Peace of Mind

Backspace No More

That bastard

You are typing something important on a website, except…. You are suddenly not typing anymore…

What happened?

The damn backspace key accidentally took you back to an earlier page, that’s what happened.

Any worse than this would be spilling a sugar beverage on your keyboard.

It doesn’t matter how skilled you are in typing or how seasoned you are on internet by the way – all that it takes for this to happen is the cursor losing the focus from the textbox you are typing in.

And it can happen without you doing anything – nowadays almost every website has a plethora of jquery libraries performing a lot of invisible actions on the background without letting you know. Updating this text field or updating that hidden field or doing something else.

Today and tomorrow it may happen while you are writing some half-arsed comment on Facebook or Twitter. But one day it may happen for something important, losing you considerable time. With collaboration websites like Google Docs on the rise, online document editing became even more common – gone are they days where you would toil solely in front of a Office Document running in your local Office application.

It shouldn’t be in browsers anymore anyway

Back early days of web browsers, it made sense. But today, how many times do you hit the backspace key to go back in history in a browser tab? Only to receive a stale web page with stale info and forms which may not even be usable because of form nonces which are implemented for security?

So you go back and refresh the web page to be able to use the forms and inputs there, again.

Therefore it doesn’t make much sense today. Maybe for accessibility – but for that there are much more useful and easy options available today. From mouse gestures to touch/swipe options in many devices.

In contrast, Backspace function in text editing is as important and critical as it was in the first clumsy keyboards to ancient interfaces in early computers. Its indispensable and will be indispensable for foreseeable future.

Much better the Backspace key performed only its original function rather than being a risk factor on your keyboard in screwing up your document.

Just remove it

No need to wait for browser developers to wake up and remove backspace functionality by themselves. Instead just do it yourself by removing backspace functionality from the browser.

Chrome/Chromium

For Chrome/Chromium, just visit the below free extension and install it. And voila – backspace wont take you to a previous page anymore.

Backstop Extension for Chrome

Firefox

Firefox developers had the good sense to build it as a config option into Firefox. In Firefox all you need to do is to type ‘about:config’ into your address bar, (promise whatever it asks you to promise at this point) and then in the filter input appearing below type ‘backspace’.

A listing named ‘browser.backspace_action’ will come up, with the value 0. Double click it, and in the value input which appeared, type in 2. This will disable the backspace key’s previous document functionality in your Firefox.

Safari

You cheeky bastard. You are all smug because backspace was removed from Safari some time ago. All this time you were laughing at our misery. Well, good for you that Apple development had the common sense to have it disabled by default.

Internet Explorer

There is no way to do it in Internet Explorer. Just in accordance with the development principles of Microsoft – useless, semi-destructive feature built in irreversibly. You will have to use 3rd party programs to change mapping of the backspace key. In IE8, you can go to settings and uncheck ‘use cursor keys to navigate’. But this will disable all the cursor keys for browser navigation as well. (Under options – advanced – accessibility)

Though the bigger question is why are you using IE while even Microsoft themselves are ditching it. Unless your corporate intranet forces it upon you, along with using smoke signals or other ancient traditions.

Opera

First go and install this Chrome style extension emulator, restart Opera, and then go up and install the Backstop Chrome extension from Chrome web store. Restart again. And you are done.

Peace of mind

Don’t you feel much better?

Now the only thing on your keyboard which can screw up your document unintentionally is either your cat, or your coffee.


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2 thoughts on “Disable Backspace Key in Your Browser for Peace of Mind”

    Backstop no longer works in Chrome. Anybody have further ideas? BackspaceMeansBackspace appears to need heavy user modification which I’m not comfortable with.

      BackSpaceMeansBackspace from Chrome store should just install itself. After that it seems to ask you whether you want to go back to earlier page when it catches a backspace hit.

      Doesn’t seem to need any kind of configuration.

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