Return Safari 6 Delete Key Functionality to Go Back a Page

Aug 5, 2012 - 12 Comments

Return Safari 6 delete key behavior to go back a page

Safari 6 changed the longstanding behavior of the Delete key, which used to navigate back a page when pressed but now does nothing. Instead, navigating web pages forward and backward is done through Command [ and Command ]. If you’d like to return the back-a-page navigation behavior to the Delete key within Safari, you can do so with a defaults write command. This works for Safari in both OS X Lion and Mountain Lion.

  • Quit out of Safari
  • Launch Terminal from /Applications/Utilities/ and enter the following lengthy defaults command onto a single line:
  • 1
    
    defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2BackspaceKeyNavigationEnabled -bool YES
  • Relaunch Safari for changes to take effect

Open any web page, click forward a page, then hit the Delete key to confirm the change worked. If for some reason it didn’t, it’s probably a result of the unusually long defaults write command being entered improperly.

If you want to revert to the default Safari 6 behavior and remove the Backspace key navigation support, change the -bool switch from YES to NO, and then relaunch Safari:

defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2BackspaceKeyNavigationEnabled -bool NO

The latest version of Safari introduced some other controversial changes too, including the removal of the RSS feed button (you can add it back with an extension) and removal of RSS support in general, requiring the use of a third party reading app instead.

This great tip comes to us from MacRumors forums

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

12 Comments

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  1. Tim says:

    Thank all those who found this solution, and let me ask rhetorically, why in the &^$^% would someone decide to remove a functionality so built into user’s psyches that it’s almost genetic? It’s certainly reflex behavior on my part to reach for delete.

  2. Vandad NP says:

    Apple changes these things for a reason. People change them back just so they won’t have to develop a new habit and move on. I find this really dumb. The world evolves, stop trying to go back in time :-)

    • Martin says:

      So what is Apple’s reason?

      Apple should not make unilateral changes to software without the user being informed in advance. Also, Apple should make changes optional rather than compulsory.

      For a company who supposedly cater for the user experience, Apple get it completely wrong. I don’t like Apple dictating what functionality I can and cannot have when they release updates/upgrades.

    • David says:

      Sometimes I think the only reason they make a change like this is to remind us that they can. If it were truly necessary to be removed, they surely would have removed the way to put it back as well.

  3. ChipH says:

    Why would they go from a single, double-width key, that was not only easy to hit, but had also been in place as a de-facto standard for years and years, to a double-key combination that no one knows is beyond me.

    Thanks for publishing the fix.

  4. Haruhiko says:

    The reason why Apple does this is to promote the use of two finger swipe back on the trackpad. For instance, they also disabled three finger swipe to go to the previous/next page starting fom Lion (although we can enable it in System Preferences.

  5. Nevin says:

    On a similar note, having just gotten used to the new UI in Lion’s QT Player, I was dismayed to discover the full-screen/windowed button in the control bar has been removed in Mtn Lion.

    While I understand that changes happen, and for the most part, begrudgingly come to adapt, me and a much underrepresented group of OS X converts came from the ultra-conservative world of Unix professionals, many who I know get annoyed that installing Mtn Lion requires a reboot (and I suspect, some enough to hack a workaround so as not to spoil their year+ uptimes). The folks who’ve to Mac via that route do not suffer frivolity well, often nor long.

  6. Bliss says:

    Thanks. I don’t know who’s bright idea that was but it was definitely worth someone filling out a new ID.10-T form.
    The backspace/delete button has been a default for years on both PC and MAC, whoever decided to change it did it for the sack of change and change only… and wasn’t a needed update.

  7. Lisa says:

    This fix isn’t working for me. Any suggestions? I copied and pasted the whole line into terminal and no changes to my safari’s escape button behaviour. Thoughts??

  8. Colt45 says:

    whoever you are….thank you. Sheer genius you are
    This linked worked great. I did it twice but works great

    defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2BackspaceKeyNavigationEnabled -bool YES

  9. Michal says:

    That’s not the only annoyance in the new Safari. The one that really baffles me is taking away the ability to not have to type .com at the end. Ever since the beginning of Safari we never had to type www or .com but now all of a sudden Apple decides that Google search takes precedence. I don’t get it and hope someone can come up with a hack for this or a way to reverse it. Please!

  10. Andrew says:

    Thank goodness this fix exists. Though, if it didn’t I would simply just stop using safari.

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