Chrome 52: return old backspace behaviour

Mattias Geniar, Monday, August 1, 2016 - last modified: Friday, August 5, 2016

Remember when you could hit backspace and go back one page in your history? Those were the days!

If you're a Chrome 52 user, you might have noticed that no longer works. Instead, it'll show this screen.


This was discussed at length and the consensus was: it's mad to have such functionality, it does more harm than good, let's rethink it. And so, the backspace functionality has been removed.

But to ease our pain, Chrome 52 introduced a new material design, so all is good, right?


Well, if like me, you miss the old backspace functionality, you can get it back!

Quickest fix: a Chrome extension

You can get the back to back Chrome extension that fixes this for you.

But come on, using an extension for this feels wrong, no?

Add CLI argument to restore backspace

Add the following argument whenever you start Chrome to restore the old backspace functionality: --enable-blink-features=BackspaceDefaultHandler --test-type.

Because apparently we're the 0.04% of users that want this feature.

Hi! My name is Mattias Geniar. I'm a Support Manager at Nucleus Hosting in Belgium, a general web geek & public speaker. Currently working on DNS Spy & Oh Dear!. Follow me on Twitter as @mattiasgeniar.

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Julia Monday, August 1, 2016 at 18:22 - Reply

Hey, thanks for the hint. Unfortunately you get the following nag notification:

You are using an unsupported command-line flag: --enable-blink-features. Stability and security will suffer.

Well, at least I’m already used to such nag screen thanks to chrome complaining about developer mode extensions as well.

dvz Tuesday, August 2, 2016 at 12:27 - Reply

Try this to get rid of the warning!

--enable-blink-features=BackspaceDefaultHandler --test-type

Julia Wednesday, August 3, 2016 at 00:25 - Reply

Works like a charm, thanks.

Mattias Geniar Friday, August 5, 2016 at 17:38 - Reply

Thanks for the feedback, I updated the post with that additional flag!

Phil B Saturday, August 13, 2016 at 23:16 - Reply

Thanks for the tip. You made me happy to be using Chrome again.

Charlie Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 16:41 - Reply

The CLI solution works great. “Shift backspace” works too. Thanks

Austin Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 00:40 - Reply

Apparently Google has “fixed” this again so this solution does not work. At least it doesn’t work for me.

GJ Friday, September 23, 2016 at 03:35 - Reply

Hi, going to the 0.04% link gave me the following result:
“You do not have permission to view this issue”
After logging in with my gmail account…
Apparently Google even want this statistic hided….

But I belong to this 0.04 group:
Since I started browsing back in 1996 I’ve been using backspace (and alt-left arrow as a another option). I was just surprised to say the least that it didn’t work (I’ve just see it now, I don’t update chrome regulary, only when something crashes eg after opening 300 or more tabs…).
Offering an extension just will not do or changing cmdline params. Why doesn’t the developing community (or Google) provide an alternative like an optionflag to turn off default behaviour of backspace not working?
This is a similar issue with the bookmarks admininstration I had this year, the new admin was not workable in any way, probably the reader had this as well. So I was able to turn it off via chrome://flags/#enhanced­bookmarks­experiment , luckily.
Looking up on this,!topic/chrome/82c8-CryULc, seemingly they returned to the old admin and removed the flag….
Tried a find on the flags page on backspace string but unfortunately nothing is showing up, just checked it for the sake of it.
So still need the basic alternative of an optionflag….or try the stuff from above…argh.

Thanks for the space to blow off some steam.

Elin Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 17:14 - Reply

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work :( Apparently they have removed this option, as well.
My curse be upon them.

Martin Friday, January 13, 2017 at 23:31 - Reply

Worked for me. Thanks a lot!

Dennis Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 22:06 - Reply

It stopped working for me for some reason.
Anyone else experiencing the same problem?

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