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Google experiments with removing backspace nav shortcut in Chrome

By Jos
May 20, 2016
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  1. It’s happened to many of us: you’re filling out a long form and hit the backspace thinking you’ll delete a character but actually navigate back and lose all your work. Google wants to save you the frustration in an upcoming release of Chrome that removes the ability to go "back" with the backspace key altogether. Specifically, the tweak will arrive with version 52 of the browser sometime in July, but is currently available in the "Developer" release.

    On a Chrome Code Reviews page, Google explains that 0.04 percent of page views are currently triggered by going back with the backspace button, and 0.005 percent are from people using the backspace key after a form interaction. That doesn’t sound like much but apparently people have been complaining for years, and Google thinks it's the right choice to change this “given the degree of pain users feel by losing their data and because every platform has another keyboard combination that navigates back.”

    Indeed a quick search on the Chrome Web Store shows at least half a dozen extensions that disable navigating to the previous page with the backspace key.

    Google says the change is being implemented via a flag, which means it can be reverted easily should there be a backlash over the decision. It doesn’t seem like a big deal considering you could re-enable the functionality via an extension or program your mouse button with alternatives such as Alt+Left, but unsurprisingly, some users are already making themselves heard.

    Then again, I’ve never used backspace for navigating back on the browser so I can't say I care. What do you think of the change, innecesary or long overdue?

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

    This is my most hated thing about chrome. navigation buttons on the mouse have been pretty standard for at least 10 years.
     
  3. IAMTHESTIG

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 957   +273

    I think its standard across most browsers isn't it? Personally I'm good with this I hated that...
     
  4. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Addict Posts: 229   +89

    Finally! Supposedly Microsoft said this "feature" was buried in the code and it would be too complex to remove the function from IE.
     
  5. zer0ops

    zer0ops TS Rookie

    How about an option to do this instead of a forced decision?
     
  6. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,514   +2,059

    I wasn't even aware that pressing backspace was a problem in Chrome in the first place so I'll be very unlikely to notice the 'feature'.
     
  7. mrjgriffin

    mrjgriffin TS Booster Posts: 136   +51

    I use backspace in chrome all the time to go back a page or three. I actually pay attention to things so that whole "I hit backspace and went back a webpage instead of erasing something" issue. so thanks to all of you daydreaming ADD having noobcakes for ruining something for me.
     
  8. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,210   +424

    I'm actually pretty torn on this one. I use the feature regularly but I have been burned once or twice (in the last several years) by an accidental "previous page" hit when trying to fill a form. It's my primary method of going back when using a laptop.
     
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  9. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Guru Posts: 563   +178

    I use back button all the time, I sure hope they make this as an option.
     
  10. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Guru Posts: 752   +273

    I use FF, so no problem here. I've been burned by both the backspace and my mouse back button, but would still keep it...
     
  11. Mike Gray

    Mike Gray TS Rookie

    Umm ... go me? Looks like I just joined the 0.04 percenters - I use it regularly, and I'll miss it!

    OTOH, I HAVE made that mistake before, and I won't miss THAT.
     
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,558   +2,900

    I don't see why this can't be coded to deactivate while focused on a text fields. That way it still functions normally, just not on pages during text entries. Sometimes the simplest thoughts elude people.
     
    wastedkill likes this.
  13. Musician

    Musician TS Rookie Posts: 24   +13

    I use backspace to navigate backwards most of the time. The browser can have the option if some wants to deactivate it, but will be a pity if it is removed entirely.
     
    wastedkill likes this.
  14. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Maniac Posts: 818   +231

    I hate when they remove something instead of just making it an option, I use backspace to go backwards in the browser history all the time.
     
  15. librariall

    librariall TS Rookie

    This is a ridiculous idea. I use backspace all the time. If Google does this, I will not use Chrome. Don't they have anything better to do?
     
  16. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,929   +186

    Didn't realize how often I use this until now, because Opera just got this in Dev 39 released some days ago! :(
     

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