How to Properly Configure the Backspace Key in Firefox for Linux

Mozilla Firefox is now the standard browser with a majority of major Linux distributions. In order to preserve the platform independent nature of Linux, the keyboard bindings often default to neutral settings. Users coming over from popular commercial operating systems might find some of these bindings to be obtuse. One of the major issues comes from the fact that hitting the backspace key in this browser will not return to the previous page, as this is a Microsoft Windows preferential binding.

Fortunately this can easily be changed through the about:config system by users. This fix may also work for those using the Debian Ice-weasel browser, Aurora Experimental or any other browser that shares major portions of code with Firefox.

How to Change the Backspace Key’s Functionality

Start Firefox by selecting it from the Applications menu in KDE, GNOME, GNOME-Shell or LXDE. It can be launched from the application sidebar in Unity and from the Whisker Menu in Xfce. Once it’s running, click in the URL address bar. Type about:config and press enter.

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You will receive a warning that jokingly claims proceeding could void your warranty. Firefox doesn’t actually have a warranty, but this was rather a joke by the developers to warn users about changing system settings. Make sure that “Show this warning next time” is still checked and then click the “I accept the risk!” button.

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In the search box type browser.backspace_action and the preference section will automatically change.

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Double click on browser.backspace_action under “Preference Name” and change the value to 0 click on ok. Close the tab out and navigate to any page.

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Click a few links and then you should be able to go backwards merely by pushing the backspace key. Push shift and backspace to go forward through the list of links you’ve moved through. This is especially useful if you originally used Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge before coming to Linux.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

How to Properly Configure the Backspace Key in Firefox for Linux

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