Enable Backspace Key to Go Back in Mozilla Firefox

How to Enable Backspace Key to Go Back in Mozilla Firefox

In the near future Mozilla will disable the history back navigation with the Backspace key. Currently, if you hit the Backspace key, you will directly go to a previous page in the browser history. This will no longer works starting in Firefox 86.

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In the current version of Firefox, which is Firefox 84 as of now, you can use either Backspace, Alt + Left arrow, or a toolbar button to go to a previous web site (if any) on Windows. This will be changed in Firefox 86.

Keyboard Backspace Button Banner

Developers explain their move as intention to not override common actions. The Backspace button is widely used in the text context to remove letters to the left in a text box. However, if the user has accidentally moved the focus from that text box, the current behavior can be descriptive. An unexpected return to a previous browsing history page can cause a data loss.

At the moment of this writing, Firefox is the only browser where you can use the Backspace key as a keyboard shortcut for navigating to the previous page. This behavior was implemented years ago, and was first introduced in Internet Explorer. Modern browsers like Opera, Chrome, or Edge are no longer use it by default. Chrome had such a shortcut in 2015, but it is now removed. In Microsoft Edge, the option is hidden in Flags. In Firefox 86, it will be possible to re-enable the backspace key for navigation.

This post will show you how to enable the Backspace Key to go back in Firefox.

To Enable Backspace Key to Go Back in Mozilla Firefox

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox.
  2. Type about:config in the address bar and press the Enter key.
  3. Click on Accept the Risk and Continue on the Proceed with Caution page.Firefox About Config Accept Risk Proceed With Caution Confirm
  4. Type browser.backspace_action in the search box.Firefox Browser Backspace Action Parameter
  5. Double-click on the browser.backspace_action parameter to set its value to 0.Firefox Enable Backspace Button For Navigation

You are done. From now the Backspace can be again used for its "history back" function.

Note that the browser.backspace_action parameter supports the following values.

  • 0 = goes Back/Forward
  • 1 = acts like PgUp/PgDown
  • 2  = disable the key (used by default in Firefox 86).

This change will align the Firefox behavior on Windows and macOS with how it works in Linux. On Linux, the backspace key is already disabled for quite a long time.

That's it.

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6 thoughts on “Enable Backspace Key to Go Back in Mozilla Firefox

  1. tukon

    You don’t need to restart the Firefox browser. The change of the value is immediately.

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Okay. Thanks. Removing that line.

      Reply
  2. Hi

    Wow nice thanks. It is one of my most used features of Firefox.

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      You are welcome.

      Reply
  3. Bret M

    Thanks! One of (several) reasons why I use firefox over chrome was this feature. I was pretty annoyed to find out they were changing it, but at least it can be changed back. If I could get used to it, that would be great, but it’s tough to get over 25 years of muscle memory

    Reply
  4. Maris

    Thank you, just received new machine and stumbled on this strange new behaviour and I was so used to go BACK with backspace

    Reply

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