Browse Back via the Keyboard in Safari – Mac Kung Fu, 2nd Edition

Tip 51Browse Back via the Keyboard in Safari

Here’s a simple hidden tweak that allows you to hit the Delete key (top right of the keyboard above the Return key; sometimes called Backspace on PC keyboards) to go back to the previous page in Safari—the equivalent of hitting the back button on the main toolbar. Once the tweak is activated, you can also hit Shift+Delete to go forward in your browser history (that is, the equivalent of clicking the forward toolbar button).

For those who like to keep their hands on the keyboard rather than the mouse, this is a very useful tweak and was a default choice in releases of OS X up until Mountain Lion, where it was deactivated because of the risk of accidentally hitting it while filling in web forms.

To activate the feature, simply quit Safari, open Terminal, and type the following line, noting that it’s a single command line:

 
defaults write com.apple.Safari
 
com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2BackspaceKeyNavigation
 
Enabled -bool TRUE

Restart Safari, and you will now find that hitting Delete will do exactly the same thing as hitting the back button on the Safari toolbar (although be aware that pressing and holding Delete will very rapidly move back through your browsing history).

To deactivate this function, again quit Safari, open a Terminal window, and type the following:

 
defaults delete com.apple.Safari
 
com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2BackspaceKeyNavigation
 
Enabled

Restart Safari, and Delete will return to its default function of doing nothing within Safari.