Numeric access keys now work in Firefox, which is available through auto-update.

Author: Gez Lemon

When Firefox 2.0 was first released, they introduced the shift key as a second modifier key to avoid clashing with the browser's own shortcut keys. For example, activating an access key with an accesskey attribute value of F would be Shift+Alt+F, which meant that the combination no longer clashed with the browser's shortcut key — pressing Alt+F activates the File menu item, even if there's an accesskey attribute value of F present on the page.

Although this fixed the issue of conflicting keystrokes, it meant numeric accesskey values no longer worked. This was a huge problem for UK public sector websites following e-Government Interoperability Framework recommendations that recommended a set of numeric values to avoid browser shortcut key clashes, and also provided some consistency.

Numeric access keys are now fixed with Firefox, which is available through auto-update (you can check through Help, Check for Updates). There were various solutions to the access key conflict, including a recommendation to set ui.key.contentAccess to 4 to revert back to the old system of using just the alt key. If you followed this advice, it will be retained, and you will need to update the value to 5.

Category: Accessibility.


  1. [numeric-accesskeys-fixed-firefox.php#comment1]

    Nice to see that is fixed. I have been working on using accessibility keys with various sites and I had to stay with FF 1.5 for various reasons such as that until now.

    Now, I will be able to use FF2 and still be able to work on accessibility for the current website I am working on and others.

    Posted by erica on

  2. [numeric-accesskeys-fixed-firefox.php#comment2]

    I am using FF for Linux by Finnish keyboard and if I press Alt+Shift+F I get the File menu, if I press Alt+Shift+2, but not on the numeric keyboard, I get tab number 2; If there is access key 2 in the current tab, it is evaluated as well.

    Posted by Jarno Suni on

  3. [numeric-accesskeys-fixed-firefox.php#comment3]

    I'm using Firefox for Windows XP (US English), and get similar results. I don't switch tabs like Jarno reported, but I do find that using the numeric keypad doesn't work for numeric accesskeys.

    Posted by Adam Messinger on

Comments are closed for this entry.