How to Disable Backspace as Back Button in Chrome and Firefox

disable backspace button

Short of catching fire in your lap, it’s the worst thing your computer can do to you. You’re working on an important document in your web browser: an email in Gmail, a job application on Monster.com or maybe an blog post in WordPress. You hit the Backspace key to erase a letter, but instead of moving the cursor, your browser takes you back to the previous page, erasing all of your work. 

Despite the obvious risk of data loss, the geniuses who developed all of the leading browers — Chrome, IE and Firefox — have designated the Backspace as a keyboard shortcut for the back button. If your window focus is in a text field, Backspace will move the cursor back a space as you would expect. If not, pressing this button will take you to the last URL you visited in that tab. The problem occurs when you think your cursor is in a text field and it’s not, because you just switched back from another window or you were scrolling down the page.

Here’s how to disable the Backspace key’s back button function in Chrome and Firefox (We haven’t yet found a way to do this in IE or Safari).

MORE: How to Make Windows 8 Look and Feel Like Windows 7

Disable Backspace as Button Button in Chrome

1. Download BackStop from the Chrome store by clicking the + Free button in the upper left corner of its description page.

backstop chrome extension i

2. Click Add when Chrome prompts to confirm the installation.

backstop confirm extension

3. Select Settings from Chrome’s menu.

chrome settings

4. Click Extensions in the upper left corner of the screen.

chrome select extensions

 5. Check “Allow in incognito” to make sure BackStop works, even when you are using an Incognito window.

chrome extension allow inco

In our tests, we found that BackStop was effective in disabling the Backspace as back button in a number of applications, but not in the Chrome settings menu itself. Some web store commenters have reported that it did not work for them on some sites, but we did not experience any issues.

Disable Backspace as Back Button in Firefox

Mozilla deserves kudos for offering a backspace disabling option in the browser itself. No third-party apps or plug-ins needed. 

1. Navigate to about:config in the Firefox address bar.

firefox about config

2. Click “I’ll be careful, I promise!” if prompted.

firefox ill be careful i pr

3. Enter “backspace” in the filter box. The list of preferences narrows to show just one option.

firefox backspace action search

4. Double click browser.backspace_action. A dialog box appears.

select browser backspace action

5. Enter “2” in the dialog box and click Ok. The default setting of 0 enables the Backspace button to go back and, if you change the setting to 1, Backspace will be equivalent to Page Up.

set browser backspace actio

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. Adrian McCabe Says:

    Thanks so much for providing this information Avram.
    This has happened many times over the years and it is VERY annoying. I was just on eBay when it happened, and wiped out my message and i then wouldn’t let me go forward. Frustrating, so i thought … putting an end to this and found your page.
    It’s happened in Hotmail in the past wiping out emails too. Chrome and Firefox now fixed.
    Cheers, Adrian.

  2. Mike Says:

    I believe “Disable Backspace as Button Button in Chrome” should be “Disable Backspace as Back Button in Chrome”.

  3. Jason Says:

    Thanks for this info. It may not work for everything but I hope people will be helpful and not hateful and presumptuous. Regardless of any developer’s wishes, the backspace being used as a back key has been known for many years regardless of OS or browser. What baffles me is why responsible developers won’t thus include a simple way to change that behavior.

  4. Thank you. Says:

    THANK YOU.

  5. Julie Says:

    Thank you Avram – you just saved me many many headaches with your clear and simple directions.

    I appreciate you!

  6. Becky Says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this! I could just KISS you!!! You have probably saved me from throwing my laptop through the window.

  7. Michael Says:

    As of 20 June 2014, Back Stop doesn’t even work on THIS page.

  8. Brett O Says:

    I appreciate this, and I agree with the “genius” assertion. To think that people who have so much emphasis regarding the internet/technology/etc could be so shortsighted. Its actually sad that third party applications have to be implemented for chrome to achieve something that should never have happened in the first place.

    A lot of these devs should be embarrassed at their own displays of ineptitude. Thanks laptopmag.

  9. Dixon Says:

    Excellent, clear and concise instructions. Thank you!

  10. Bobby Says:

    Thanks!

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