How To Reclaim The 'Backspace To Go Back A Page' Feature In Chrome

You used to be able to hit backspace to go back to a previous webpage in Chrome but a month ago, Google indicated that it will be removing this feature in a future update for the web browser. The backspace hotkey was omitted from the Canary release of Chrome and now it has been taken out of the Beta version of the latest update. The end is nigh for users (like myself) who do take advantage of the backspace to return to previous page function. The good news is there is a way to keep it with a Chrome extension, aptly named Back To Backspace. Here are the details.

Using Backspace to go back to a previous webpage is a legacy left behind by older internet browsers like Internet Explorer. It's one of those things you either love or hate; some users may find it frustrating when they're filling out an online form and lose all the information when they accidentally hit the backspace button at the wrong time. Others, namely programmers and individuals who are familiar with keyboard shortcuts would miss this feature terribly.

The removal of this feature in the Beta release of Chrome means that it won't be long before it hits the newest stable version of the browser. If you are a fan of the Backspace to go back shortcut, you can install a Chrome extension called Back To Backspace. Here's the brief description for the extension:

Miss being able to use backspace to go back a page? This extension restores that ability. Just press the backspace key on any page and you'll go back to the previous page you were looking at. Note that this will not happen if you are currently filling out a form or typing into a text area or input box.

So at least you have an option now to keep that precious backspace hotkey. Alternatively, you can use the new shortcut for going back a page that Chrome has introduced: Alt + Back Arrow.

You can get the Back To Backspace extension at the Google Chrome Store.


    You've obviously never spent ages filling out a form and hit the backspace key hoping to correct a typo but to your dismay you realise a dropdown had focus and you find your hard work destroyed as your browser goes back in time.

      No because I pay attention to where my focus is at :P

      (Well, generally I think I tend to highlight what I want to delete before deleting it if it's a whole word or something, so it doesn't come up much)

      Joking aside, I thought this "problem" was solved ages ago, usually when something goes wrong with submitting a post or whatever I just hit Back and the form information is sitting there in the text box still, waiting to be resubmitted. Same if I just click Forward if I've accidentally gone Back somehow.

        There are still plenty of poorly written websites out there with javascript timers that steal focus from the text box you're typing in, causing you to 'backspace' back a page, then returns you to an empty form.

        It'd be better if Google had left it enablable in the 'under the hood' settings for people who are in the habit of using the backspace function properly, but surely it isn't too much to retrain yourself to use [alt] [back-arrow] instead.

          They should have left it enabled and made it an option for people who are careless to change

      Yep. I'm in the "going to miss it" category. It was easy enough to understand that when the text cursor wasn't flashing away in the text box then Backspace would go back a page.
      I dislike this kind of dumbing down of computer use. But hey, it's going now so I'll have to use one of the other keyboard shortcuts to achieve the same thing (work prohibits extension installation).

        I use the beta version of Chrome day-to-day so it's been gone for me for a week or two now. And it's as annoying as I expected it to be, as someone who uses it all the time. The backspace key was great because it's right near the page up/down keys and you can easily hit any of them with a single button press, not to mention all three keys are easy to find blind because of their shape or positions.

        I'm used to having my hand over all three (pinkie on PgDn, ring finger on PgUp, middle finger on home and index finger on backspace) and found it very fast to navigate that way. Unfortunately the Alt+Arrow key combination is awkward because it's a two-key shortcut, the alt key is harder to locate blind, and it requires moving the whole hand away from the other navigation keys.

      Just going to add my voice to this too (sorry tried to upvote your comment but it didn't respond). I hate this problem, it's a symptom of the broader focus problem in general but is very annoying in this context.

      All modern browsers preserve form field data when you navigate between pages, field data is generally only cleared on submit. I tested this right now with this comment, all the text remained when I went back and then forward again, the only thing it forgot was who I was replying to.

      Why would you hit backspace without being able to see where the cursor is, anyway? Surely if you're correcting a typo you'd position the cursor there first before hitting backspace?

        Yeah, that's because lifehacker is a well written site.

        Try doing that halfway through your next insurance, bank, or government form and see how much data you need to re-enter.

          It's not about how well the site is written. Unless the site deliberately wipes form fields (which would require a conscious choice from the author), the browser handles repopulating fields automatically, independent of anything else the website does.

          I did read your comment above (months ago, when this article was posted), but as a web developer myself I haven't seen a site that wipes fields like that in the last decade. My bank doesn't, none of the government services I've used do it (census, tax office, mygov). I don't doubt there are sites out there that do, but they seem to be very uncommon.

          Last edited 19/08/16 4:15 pm

    The argument of losing data due to accidental pressing of the backspace key has literally never happened to me. How does this happen to you people? Do you not look at your screen?

      how stupid and pathetic do you have to be to not realize why this is a problem? If you're typing in a form field and for whatever reason the focus gets lost, hitting backspace when it was a worthless pathetic ill-conceived shortcut to go back would have made it go back and caused you to lose all your work. Only the dumbest people alive rely on backspace for back when you can more conveniently use a mouse with a back button. Or right click and select back. Or click on the goddamn back arrow on the browser.

        First of all, its because of people like you that everything needs to be dumbed down to unbelievable levels. Second of all its pretty clear that the only time you use a browser is to stalk someone on facebook, so quit whining and crawl back to your safe space.

    No one should ever have to press the backspace key to go back. Only feckless dimwits use this shortcut. If you were smart and not stuck in the dinosaur age, you would have a mouse that has a back button on it. Pressing that button is 100x more convenient than reaching over and pressing backspace.

      dude u know every time we can't use mouse,it is better to have a shortcut

    If you were smart and not stuck in the dinosaur age, you would have a laptop with a touchscreen.

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