Mozilla Firefox has long offered the ability to press the Backspace key to return to the previous page and the Shift + Backspace key for forward navigation. However, this changes with Firefox 86. On the latest Firefox 86 Nightly, the company disabled the feature by default. If you’re a Firefox user and want to re-enable back navigation, read on to find out how.
Re-enable backspace navigation key in Firefox
1. Open the Firefox browser and visit about:config. In the search preference name text box, type ‘browser.backspace_action’. When the preview appears, click on the pencil icon present in the right corner to edit the value.
2. By default, you will notice that the value of ‘browser.backspace_action’ is ‘2’. Change the value to ‘0’ and click the Save button. That’s it. You can now continue to use the Backspace and Shift+Backspace keyboard shortcuts to browse the web.
Why did Firefox remove back navigation?
Now that you know how to re-enable back navigation, you might be wondering why Mozilla decided to remove the feature in the first place. After all, the the backspace navigation shortcut has 40 million unique users per month, which is significantly higher than similar shortcuts like the Alt + Left/Right arrow which basically serves the same purpose.
Firefox developers decided to disable this feature because many novice users accidentally go to the previous page while typing on websites or by filling out forms without highlighting the input field. Additionally, some suspect that the increased usage of Backspace is due to accidental triggers.
Use the Backspace Navigation Key in Firefox
Regardless of the decision to change the default behavior, you can follow the steps above to revert it. This should be useful if you’ve always relied on Backspace and Shift+Backspace to navigate between web pages. You may also consider using the Alt+Left/Right Arrows keyboard shortcuts instead. For more of these tips, be sure to check out our article on hidden Firefox settings you should use and how you can clear telemetry data on Firefox.