forward and back do distract

I have always loved ThinkPads. They’re certainly not as sexy as some of the other laptops out there, but they’re generally well thought out and hard to kill. I recently got a loaded T42 to use for work, and have spent the last couple weeks moving over from my Vaio S260 and aging Ti. *sniff* It isn’t brand-spanking new, but it certainly meets all my needs.

There is, however, one new “feature” that drives me mental. IBM/Lenovo have added “Forward” and “Back” keys. These keys are used as substitutes/shortcuts for clicking on the “forward” or “back” with whatever browser you happen to be using. Decent idea, but the execution has gone horribly awry.

If you do any alphanumeric entry in a web browser (say an app, or a blog tool, or any web-based form), you will hate these keys. Because of the limited space available, and the probable thinking of “hey, these are nav keys”, some idiot engineer/designer put these keys right by the cursor keys. In order to make all these keys fit, they’re half-size, which leads to more frequent miss-keying.

So, say you’re editing something like a post, and you want to use the cursor keys to move back to an arbitrary spot to edit. You reach for the key, but stab the “back” key instead. At best you curse and hit forward to get back to where you were, at worst you lose everything you’ve typed. Do this a few times in one day and start to hate your keyboard.

Thankfully, there is a way to disable this less-than-useful addition to the keyboard. Here’s how you do it, because it’s less-than-intuitive:

  • Start the “Keyboard Customizer” application, located within the “Access IBM” group.
  • Select the “Key Sensitivity” tab (of course! disabling them is the same as making them less sensitive… or something.)
  • Uncheck the “Enable Broswer Keys” checkbox in the lower left-hand corner of the dialog tab.
  • Click on “Apply” and then close the dialog.

Evilness banished. Alternatively, you can leave them enabled, and just adjust the sliders so you have to hold the keys down for a little longer than a normal keypress to function (this is where the sensitivity part comes in). That’d probably solve the miss-keying problem equally well, but I just disabled them, as I have no intention of using them. My mouse has fwd and back buttons, which are more intuitive (to me, anyways).

Your mileage may vary, so do whatever the heck you want.

6 thoughts on “forward and back do distract


    I just lost another page of typing into a browser due to these infernal back/forward keys. But no more! Thank you so much.


  2. Heh, my pleasure. I can’t count the number of pages I had to re-type because of those gd keys.

  3. What Dave said:


    I just lost another page of typing into a browser due to these infernal back/forward keys. But no more! Thank you so much.”

    I repeat x1000!


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