When Google released Chrome 52 a few weeks back it was a relatively routine roll-out. Many, if not most of the updates went unnoticed by the average Chrome user. The biggest excitement for me was the fact that we are now only one version away from the Play Store coming to the stable channel. This, of course, will bring over a million Android apps to a Chromebook near you.
However, for many users, the update to version 52 has brought with it a much detested change to the long-time keyboard function that uses the backspace key to “go back” in a browser. In one camp, you have those who despise this function and have clamored relentlessly for Google to remove the shortcut. The main reason being, an accidental keystroke would cause the browser to go back. The result, a loss of data in text boxes. While I have not personally had serious issue with this, I can completely understand how this could be a very frustrating problem for many users. Especially if data entry is a key focal point of their daily routine.
Now, a few weeks into the update, Chrome users on the other side of the debate have voiced their disgruntled opinions on the removal of the shortcut. Some have even gone to the point of abandoning the browser or OS entirely. The number of people who are upset about the update seems staggering in forums and discussion groups. But, according to an article posted by The Verge, the number of page views accessed by the “go-back” backspace is a mere 0.04%. While that may seem minuscule, with over 1 billion users that constitutes as many as 400,000 people unhappy about the change.
Now, the Chrome developers easily could have left an enable flag to reinstate the backspace option. But, they didn’t. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. One thing is for sure. Google doesn’t make a lot of haphazard decisions in the development of their product. Therefore, I have to believe there was a definite intent behind the decision. All of that being said, what if you really want or need to have the backspace as an option on your keyboard?
Don’t panic. A couple of ingenious developers have created extensions to get you back where you want to be. The first is Back to Backspace. J-Delaney, a software engineer for Stripe, created this extension and it seems to solve the problem for users on both sides of this argument. While it restores the backspace to go back option, it will not go back if you are filling out a form or typing in a text box. Kudos to you good sir. I have tried Back to Backspace out and it works like a charm.
The next extension is Backspace to go Back. Razvan Caliman from Adobe made this handy little extension. It is a very simple code injection to the sites you visit that will recognize the backspace key stroke. Much more similar to the native nature of the original Chrome feature.
So, there you have it. For those who insist they cannot live without the backspace, you know have some options. For those who want it without having to worry about data loss, you’re covered. Hopefully this will be of assistance to both belief systems. While I don’t use the backspace to go back, it’s good to know there are options. Also, good to know that open-source is alive and well in the world of Chrome.
Google has now released an official extension that restores the backspace function. Check it out in the Web Store.