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How to stop your browser going back a page when pressing Backspace

How to stop your browser going back a page when pressing Backspace

It often seems to me that computers and their operating systems have countless features that, if you were to truly understand and embrace them, would be almost like having another limb. It’s long been my theory that anyone who truly mastered every feature of Microsoft Excel could probably reveal the meaning of life.

However, if, like me, you don’t really use them, these little shortcuts can simply become irritating and something you repeatedly do by mistake because the application you’re using is trying to be too clever for you.

The first one that springs to mind for me is the function that treats pressing Backspace in the same way as clicking the Back button when using an internet browser. This won’t happen if you’re in a text box, but if you’ve been typing and then click out of the text box, then absent-mindedly hit Backspace, you’ll be taken back to the page you were on before.

After about the millionth time of this happening to me, I got fed up with it and decided to see if there was a way to stop it. Yes, there is, at least on my preferred browser of Firefox. Here’s how you do it:

1. First of all, in case you haven’t really been reading and have just jumped straight to the instructions, let me emphasise these instructions are only for Mozilla Firefox. I will briefly discuss some other browsers below
2. Go to your address bar and type about:config, then press Enter
3. You may get a notification at this point warning you to “Proceed with Caution”. This is a reminder that you shouldn’t go fiddling about with any browser’s configurations without knowing what you’re doing. However, as long as you do exactly as these instructions say and nothing more, you should be fine to proceed
4. In the search bar, search for “backspace”. An option called “browser.backspace_action” should appear
5. The value will probably be set at 0. Change it to 2
6. Click the blue tick to save

That should have done the trick, and you can now hit Backspace willy-nilly without fear of losing your page.

Does it work on other browsers?

Not this particular technique, but there should be ways to do it. With Google Chrome, for example, there’s an app specifically for the problem. Called BackStop, it can be downloaded from the Chrome Store.

If you use Microsoft Edge, the help forum TenForums.com has a guide to turning this feature on and off.

Whichever browser you use, there should be a solution to this problem. If you’re struggling with yours, let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to help.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray

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