Browser Keyboard Shortcuts Not Working On Some Websites

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 19, 2010
Updated • Jun 30, 2016

If you browse the Internet a lot and use keyboard shortcuts to speed up the browsing, you may have encountered the following behavior.

If you happen to visit a site with embedded content, such as Flash or a document that is being displayed on the page, then you cannot make use of keyboard shortcuts. All the shortcuts, like CTRL-T for opening a new tab, CTRL-R or F5 for reloading, or CTRL-W for closing a tab, do not work on those pages.

The only shortcuts that work are those implemented by the script running on the page.

This is standard behavior in Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome but not Microsoft's Internet Explorer which as the only web browser of the four most popular ones that supports its standard set of keyboard shortcuts on all websites.

Maybe you want to try it out for yourself. Visit Tuneglue, a music discovery service using Flash. If you work in the interface and the focus of the cursor is on the page then keyboard shortcuts are not working.

There are lots of threads by users about this problem. It has been acknowledged by the developers of browsers, but nothing has been done about it so far.

The only option users have at this point is to use the mouse to move the focus away from the plugin content. This works best if only part of the site displays a Flash widget or other plugin content, and may not work at all if it is a fullscreen app.

Moving the focus away from the element makes keyboard shortcuts work again. This can for instance be done with a left-click on an interface element of the browser's chrome, or a blank location on the web page itself that is not being used by the embed.

There does not seem to be another option, apart from disabling all plugins in the web browser to avoid running into those issues. This on the other hand means that content that require those plugins cannot be used anymore.

Has anyone else experienced this issue and would like to share their findings?

Article Name
Browser Keyboard Shortcuts Not Working On Some Websites
The article explains why browser keyboard shortcuts such as F5 or Ctrl-T are not working on some Internet sites.
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  1. nochrome said on August 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    I cannot understand google can’t fix this old terrible problem.

  2. klos said on March 9, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Besides MS breaking most of the hot-keys in office07, the abusive behaviour of websites taking control of hot keys is the most annoying problem I run across.

  3. Neatness said on December 14, 2010 at 3:33 am

    If someone find answer for this please respond. I hate pdf and flash, ctrl+t must be new tab :)

    I think we must somehow report this to FF developers… to fix that and change that

  4. Corey said on May 26, 2010 at 10:24 am

    This has become very annoying indeed.

    Aside from this happening on some/all flash websites, I have also noticed the same effect upon opening an online PDF for viewing.

    Using firefox and chrome same effect, I have not tried IE as I cannot stand the browser and always disable it on my systems.

  5. dana said on March 30, 2010 at 2:32 am

    this drives me INSANE. if there was a fix, even one that had some significant drawbacks, I’d use it.

    fcking flash…

  6. Calc-Yolatuh said on February 26, 2010 at 2:21 am

    I think this has come to be expected behavior. If the Flash plugin is not allowed to grab keyboard input, many sites will simply fail to function. Opera’s quick preferences and site preferences allow you to control some of the invasiveness of plugins and scripts.

  7. Dotan Cohen said on February 19, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Linking to the Mozilla wiki is nice, but how about a link to the actual bug report? If there isn’t one yet, then file it!

  8. Alan said on February 19, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I use keyboard shortcuts quite a bit in Firefox and Chrome and, yes, browser keyboard shortcuts do break when looking at a flash element in a page. You can even try to Tab away from the flash element and it doesn’t do anything; it just cycles through the embedded elements in the flash element. This particularly painful using an all-flash site like Grooveshark or Pandora. I miss my keyboard shortcuts, someone please fix this lol

  9. Ronan said on February 19, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Another solutionless post just to acknowledge that I too hate these Flash sites that break my beloved Ctrl+T or Ctrl+W. It’s especially sad to see the problem is still here after all this time and some serious proposals in the Mozilla KB article you mentioned, :-/

  10. Patrick said on February 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    It has been around for a while. It happens to me only on flash sites… aside from that I don’t have too much of an issue.

  11. VivekM said on February 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Yahoo Mail ..

    Undo close tab (ctrl+shift+T) starts some yahoo chat related application in yahoo mail.

  12. Roman ShaRP said on February 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I saw recently F5 not working on some site, but I blame it on some application hotkey conflict, and didn’t explore it deeply.

  13. Tom said on February 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Firefox has trouble with the ctrl+t for a new tab to be opened on

  14. Venture said on February 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Certain websites like aol india, aol use scripts to display images rendering the keyboard shortcuts useless

  15. Lucifr said on February 19, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Shortcuts seem not working when the focus is on flash elements.

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