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I have been using firefox 1.5 for a bit now and have been pretty happy with it. There is one very big annoyance with it, and the previous several versions of firefox: They changed the binding so that the backspace key goes back to the previous page in your history.

I found a way to disable this annoying and unwanted behavior, read on for a solution…

Apparently Internet Explorer has a default keybinding for the backspace key of going back to the previous page in your browsing history. So, firefox on windows always had this same binding. More recently, the firefox UI people decided they should make this consistent for MacOS and Linux builds as well.

Why is this so bad? The proponents suggest that it's much easier to hit backspace than alt left arrow. IE does it that way, and everyone should expect it.

Here's why I find it to be bad:

  • If you have a popup window show up and move your focus from it back to the browser it will go back a page and make the popup have no useful effect.
  • If you are trying to fill out a flash based form it will go back and not let you ever backspace in the flash text field.
  • If you switch away from your browser to another desktop and back you need to make sure you click to re-focus in any text field you were in, or you will go back in history when you hit backspace.
  • This was never a binding under ANY Linux browser. Why should we copy IE?
  • If you are using TAB to move through some fields, some of which are text entry and some of which are not, if you go past the text field you wanted and hit backspace you go back in history.
  • If you are entering text in a cgi based form, and move your focus from a text entry field you not only go back in history on backspace, but you loose all your changes.

There is supposed to be a about:config entry that will let you change the behavior of this annoying anti-shortcut. However, it won't work for me. Perhaps they will fix that soon. More information about browser.backspace_action at

Finally tonight I noticed an extension called keyconfig that will let you remap key bindings. Install that extension, restart firefox to load it. Hit Ctrl+Shift+f12 to bring up the prefs and click on the very first entry. Remove 'Backspace' from the Back action and you will be in business.

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