How to Disable Backspace as Back Button in Chrome and Firefox

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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 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, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of 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.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • Keith Gregor Says:

    Thank you for that fix. My son thought I had finally lost it and was going postal after my ebay lisings I was working on kept vanishing each time I hit the backspace bar. You have saved many lives today.

  • John C Says:

    Thx for this, was driving me absolutely crazy. Can people not use the back arrows with a mouse? Backspace is for backspacing.

  • Greg Gumina Says:

    Thank you for the help on correcting this problem I too am a technician and yet I still have trouble fixing errors on my computer. Keep up the good work.

  • Bruce Says:

    I happen to like using the Backspace key as a "go back one screen" key.

    My big problem is that this functionality disappeared from my Chrome computer system some weeks ago. Do you know if there's a way to turn that feature back on in Chrome?

  • xorandor Says:

    Firefox is so stupid sometimes because it copies every bad things from all browsers. They have not their own program which would bring the browser to the best.

  • Firefox is now Chrome Says:

    Torture these idiots to death for the suffering they inflict by ignorant design like this! Seriously - millions and millions are affected by this. I just went back one page and repeated a payment transaction (or appeared to) due to this b.s.! I'm highly IT literate. I don't know how focus could have changed (no tap-to-click on the laptop mousepad for example...) But it DID. And I went back one or two pages. Should the site's designer design around this, or should they switch the binary 0 to a 1 'disabled' for this setting in the browser. You do the calculations of which is easier...

  • Sergey Says:

    I used your advice and now my backspace works as intended - for erasing letters. Thank you.

  • Kernan MacGlaughlan Says:

    Thank you! This has been driving me nuts forever!!


    How do lock backspace key in ms word.

  • Derek Says:

    It's amazing how easy it was to find this, I hit backspace and it went back, "thought to myself, that's funny I don't remember that ever happening" Google this and instantly fix it. Thank you

  • Katana Says:

    I am trying to disable the ALT key from taking me a page back- can't type any unicode symbols- each time I try to do so it puts me off the page. I d/l some menu addon thing from FF but it sucks and is not clear at all-

  • fadumpt Says:

    Wow...People actually find "backspace as back button" useful? It's so counter intuitive and unexpected...
    I guess it's like the XKCD cartoon where they fix the bug that heats up the system with spacebar inputs and someone complains because it totally destroyed their workflow.

  • BringBackBackspace Says:

    So, I do not know how people grew up finding this so troublesome. I switched to Firefox when Chrome disabled the backspace as a back button.
    I have been so used to this that I never hit it wrong. I came across this article trying to find a way to restore that in Chrome, and I cannot believe that someone looking the age the author looks is so upset with a feature that has been prevalent in all browsers since I can remember. Of course, someone called the Geeks Geek probably has close to 0 expertise in actually using computer stuff.
    YOU are the reason they removed a feature I grew up with and have the ability to use flawlessly.
    And is not even that ALT Left is so much harder, is changing the decades old behavior that somehow people like the author find so reprehensible, shining light to the fact that this person probably didn't sit on a computer too much for a long time.
    I am not a Geeks Geek and I use primordially my backspace for browsing when in a browser, as when I am typing text I am usually focused (both with my cursor and my mind) in a text box. I also rarely write long text directly on browsers, as I also know that web based applications tend not to save (that is a very recent development), and mistakes are not limited to backspace.

    How is it better to have a navigational program (sorry, app, if the Geeks Geek doesn't know the word 'program') governed by text entry behavior? Are you really typing more text in your browser than navigating on it? Does it really feel more natural to justify it? How much text were you losing by pressing backspace? Maybe you should switch your long texts to at least Notepad, which doesn't have an autosave feature, but at least won't navigate out of your website if your clumsy inexperienced hands cannot handle that key.

    Oh I feel such rage towards this Geeks Geek.

  • Melina Says:

    Funny how I want to do the opposite.
    A few updates ago, the backspace thing changed to alt + backspace.. which doesn't even work. I need it because I browse through a lot of websites and search for information on google.
    Anyone knows how to disable it?

  • Andy B Says:

    My backspace key has been taking me "back" to my last url, unless in a txt field, until a few days ago.
    It still does in M$ Edge but not Chrome, I haven't installed Backstop or anything... can anyone tell me how to restore it to the way it was please?

    I know you guys all hate it that way, what can I say?, I find the backspace key much quicker & handier to go back a page or more
    I am using a touchpad on a laptop however...figure :-)

  • Chiff Says:

    Sweet! Next up - switching the Back and Forward function of M4 and M5 so it's easier to accidentally hit Forward than Back.

  • Adam Hamilton Says:

    The backspace key as browser back has to be one of the most stupidest decisions ever. I have been caught out multiple times as I use a laptop and quite frequently graze the touchpad thereby shifting the focus out of the touchpad.

    Why you would EVER designate a purely editing key as something other than editing is just dumb.

    I would surely like to know how many people actually find this useful.

  • Chris Wolfe Says:

    Been having this issue and never been able to figure it out - thank to you just fixed it, hopefully for good, cheers very much!

  • Mitchell Barker Says:

    I had this problem. I tried Backstop and Backspacemeansbackspace and neither worked. I couldn't even use backspace to edit an email without going to the previous web page. To fix the problem I simply restarted my laptop. Next step would be to uninstall and reinstall Chrome.

  • Modboy Says:

    Final point this occurs even when the cursor is in the text field. I guess the genius bar of developers is more used to swiping on tablets they forgot how to type anything. Well its quite clear quite a low bar has been set in design and development. You just wanna crack one of those tablets off the back of something. May be it will accidentally hit the back space key and all the crappy code will disappear. Wouldn't that be grand!

  • Modboy Says:

    These days developers have no idea how to build user interfaces. Just one scenario. A user has typed a long message or form and they press the delete key a couple of times to make corrections. Suddenly the browser flips back and a whole 30 minutes is wasted and the user has to start the entire online form again. It's embarrassing. Quite clearly these guys dont test anything before putting useless updates on their browsers

  • Samantha T. Says:

    It won't work for me. I followed the instructions VERY carefully. Still didn't work. I did it another time, slightly annoyed. And it still won't work. Either I'm going nuts or Backstop won't work. I can't even complete this comment without pressing the "Backspace" button or else it will go back to the previous page. Another thing I've noticed is that the left, right, up, and down keys don't work anymore... Can this get any worse!? Please contact me ASAP because I can't handle this anymore. Thank you.

  • wfjfksitwke Says:

    If you know the person who came up with this shortcut please slap them so hard, their ears ring!

  • Dawn! Says:

    Wow! I never had a problem with it until today, April 25, 2016. Then my backspace key started deleting every page, every time I hit that key! Thanks for the tip! It was an easy Way around a really jacked up system.

  • Richard Cross. Says:

    Don't blame the browsers, this is actually a Windows feature - no web browser does this on Linux or OS X.

  • Paula Says:

    How do I navigate to about:config in the first place? I've done it maybe once.

  • Paula Says:

    Geez, I don't even know how to get to the first step!!
    How do I "navigate to" in the first place? I really need this because I'm playing my numbers game and if I'm not in the box, I can't eliminate possible numbers and I lose the whole game. Glad I found this but help!

  • Gina-Marie Says:

    OMG!! Thank you SO much for that, I thought I was losing my mind...

  • Dennis Says:

    Thank you very much!
    It solved my problem.

  • ARod Says:

    Avram, thank you, thank you!!!! You are a god sent, an angel from heaven and a true genius! If I still had a carriage, I would be happy to be the mother of you children!

  • YUS Says:

    You are a saint!

  • Dennis Says:

    Echoing the appreciative comments for this advice. Love Firefox even more. Now crossword puzzle won't disappear before solved.

  • anonymous Says:

    Backstop is sort of broken. Its disabling backspace completely so I can't erase a letter. Yes I know I can highlight it, but thats boring.

  • Amit Says:

    And thats not all. The genius at MS had another brilliant idea. If in a text box, pressing backspace will erase the character, IF there are characters to erase. If there are no more characters, it does the previous page thingy. That guy must be castrated.

  • Eng-ry Angle Says:

    "...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."

    Yeah, fuck those arrogant idiots. They couldn't 'design' their way out of a paper bag, without stopping, inanely, to make the paper bag pretty, whilst leaving loads of holes in it (functionality).
    Then throwing a Google-sponsored party for how clever they are.
    Hell is coming, under the hands of idiots like this. If the 'Devil' exists - even solely as a metaphor - he's sure using these people as his tools, and naturally they have no clue what they are creating. Not from the specific piece of software they happen to involve their lives with, but by the very principle of tolerating such ignorance within themselves and their colleagues. No, seriously, that's really how hell on earth would / has come about (I live in London, England, it's not a very pleasant place overall, affecting my philosophy as London arguably drives the world, certainly the UK's culture, slowly but surely - and sets it laws - ignorance is RAMPANT here).

  • Laura Says:

    Thank you!!!!

  • jimbo Says:

    May we know designed this "feature" so that we can teepee their house?

  • Ryan Says:

    Backstop doesn't work half the time.

  • Humberto Hepp Says:

    Thanks god for this. What a super hyper mega ultra annoying useless feature that of backspace as back button. Why the hell they still do stupid multi confusing tasking buttons... argh... when will they learn to make things simple.

  • Thank you Says:

    You. Are. The. Best. Thank you!

  • Bobby Says:


  • Dixon Says:

    Excellent, clear and concise instructions. Thank you!

  • 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.

  • Michael Says:

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

  • 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.

  • Julie Says:

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

    I appreciate you!

  • Thank you. Says:


  • 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.

  • Mike Says:

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

  • 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.

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