While some websites like Google Search set the focus on text fields automatically, it is not used on other websites either because the webmaster does not know that such a feature exists, or maybe to avoid user confusion when they start to type on the site.
Search engines should auto-focus on the main text field, period. While not all users agree that this is the best course of action, it definitely speeds up operations on the Internet especially if you know that the text field is focused automatically so that you can start typing right away without having to select the field first manually.
There is another way to jump to the text field automatically and that is by tapping on the Tab-key on your keyboard. It is not ideal though as it cycles through all page elements and not only the field.
This means that you may need to press the Tab-key multiple times before the text field is selected. You can obviously also use the mouse to select the field right away if you prefer to do so.
Firefox comes with an option to change the Tab-key behavior of the web browser so that only text fields are focused when you hit the key in the browser.
The setting can be altered on the about:config page the browser makes available. To open these settings type about:config in the Firefox address bar and hit enter. If this is the first time that you access the options you need to press the I'll be careful button before you continue.
Search for the parameter accessibility.tabfocus.
Double-click the entry to change the parameter to one of the following values:
Changing the setting from 7 to 1 will have the desired effect. Pressing tab on any website will now focus the first text field on the website.
Update: There is a Greasemonkey script that can enable the behavior on specific websites automatically.
Update 2: The functionality seems to have been changed. Setting the value to 1 has the same effect as setting it to 3 which means that Firefox will always jump between all form fields by default regardless of the value you have set for the parameter.
If you use the Tab-key in Firefox to jump to form fields but never to link elements, you may want to change the preference on about:config to configure Firefox to ignore page elements other than text fields or form fields.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.