Almost universally through all of the different web browsers, the backspace key on your keyboard can serve as the Back button to navigate to the previous page. It has been this way for a long time and perhaps it made more sense in the prior days with less content creation in the browser. Now, I am sure almost every person has experienced it at least once, the painful moment when you type something up for a long time like a blog post, homework, email, or forum submission when the textbox loses focus and you unwittingly hit the Backspace key. Your browser humbly obeys and takes you to the previous page. You frantically click the Forward button and find all of your hard work has been lost.
Creating content on the web is a lot more prevalent these days and most apps tend to auto-save occasionally but there are still plenty of pain points with this keyboard shortcut. These experiences have led to a colorful history for the keyboard shortcut. Just over four years ago, a Chromium bug was filed explaining the Backspace/back button issue and the frustration of data loss. Issue #144832 receives the usual response: “Is there an option in settings?” “Use an extension!”
The issue snowballs over time gathering supporters and people that disagree. Meanwhile, people learn to copy+paste their content frequently or type it in a text editor before they can trust the browser with it.
Earlier this year, Chromium was updated to remove Backspace as a shortcut to navigate to the previous page. Instead, you might see a little suggestion to use a new keyboard shortcut: Alt + left arrow key. This will take you back while backspace does nothing but edit text. Shift+Backspace to move forward has also been replaced with Alt + right arrow key.
Unfortunately, removing the setting has detracted a large number of complaints and kudos. The answer seems to be adding a flag that allows the user to configure the behavior of the backspace key but Google appears to prefer avoiding that option. Now, a new extension is suggested to restore the feature while others complain about a two-key shortcut being too many. You can also restore Backspace by adding the parameter to your Chrome shortcut:
Complaints have continued with the other side now coming out to voice their perspective. Most recognize the divisive nature and instead ask for a flag that can be set under chrome://flags to set the desired behavior. Perhaps in another four years, they will get their way.