Do you use the “backspace” key to go…back on your browser?
If you’re a user of Google Chrome, you probably know about how they removed the option to go back a page by pressing “backspace” back in Chrome 52. (For reference, we’re on Chrome 57 right now and slowly rolling out onto Chrome 58.)
The reason behind this update was because users would be filling forms, data, typing a forum post, filling out a purchase form, or even just typing a comment and they would hit the backspace key by accident. This would automatically bring them back a page just to hit forward again and find out they lost all their information and have to retype it all again.
Does disabling backspace navigation even prove to be effective?
It’s happened to me plenty of times and when the update hit, I was pretty happy about it. I thought it rarely happens, but it still does happen. Since then, I’ve hit the key a few times expecting to jump back to the previous page only to get a prompt on the screen saying that I need to press a new, more involved keyboard shortcut. The newer keyboard combination is much more complex and involves enough keys so that if you press all the keys, you’ll go back a page intentionally, never accidentally. It’s always on purpose now and it’s been designed in a way that works intuitively unless you’re some robotic hotkey master.
Of course, I didn’t bother learning the combination and just got used to knowing that the backspace trick is no longer active. Believe it or not, it’s saved me a few times already. I accidently hit the backspace key, panic, but then realize nothing happens- all in a split second. So that update has already paid itself off. I don’t mind changing my browsing habits for something that saves so much time.
Now, I know there’s a minority of users out there who prefer to use the key to navigate their browsers rather than clicking the backspace arrow at the top-left, or using mouse gestures.
One Google employee stated in a post:
“While I appreciate it’s a change in habits for many people, data loss is harder to deal with than a change in habits.”
“If it can be solved easily with a flag or an extension, I hope that we keep this change as default behaviour.”
Guess what? It’s finally happening.
Go Back With Backspace – literally
There’s now a Google Chrome extension that switches the feature back on. We’re taking our backspace back.
If you’re a fan of “backspace browsing,” go ahead grab this app. It’s called Go Back With Backspace, and as generic as it sounds, it does what it says.
It’s advertised to “…re-enables the backspace key as a back navigation shortcut, without affecting its use when you’re writing text.”
This is exactly what we want. The ability to continue to use the key selectively for specific tasks, especially repetitive ones (or out of habit). This will bring joy to those who frequently hit the key to go back a page. Selectiveness. Because one size doesn’t always fit all.
You can re-enable the function to go back to the previous page with your backspace key. Cool, huh?
On the default settings, the app is disabled for chat tools, PDFs, java, flash, and other similar applets.
Filters and whitelists galore
And even better? You can filter out which exact pages you want the backspace key to affect. This means you can use it on specific websites or specific pages. And if you’re ever anxious that you might hit the key, you can disable the app on the current page without adding tit to your whitelist or messing around with settings. You can adjust the settings by clicking on the gear icon to make it work how you want it to. The disabling feature is just for quick disables.
Go Back With Backspace is made by Google and is completely free to use. All you need is the Chrome Web Browser and a keyboard.
Grab the app here and take your backspace back.