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Setting Tab Key Preferences in Mozilla

Setting Tab Key Preferences in Mozilla

There's a surprising number of pages on that mention the plethora of options available for keyboard navigation in the Mozilla browser. What this key does... with that accelerator key... when you're using browser tabs... on the third Sunday of the month. Oh, and why it works differently on all three platforms. Bah.

My brother, Jed, wanted to know how to tell Mozilla that the tab key should send the browser's "focus" only to the form fields. He doesn't want to tab between links.

Eventually I found what he was looking for in Testing Tabbing.

Basically, there is no user interface for this preference. You have to put it in your user.js file. The preference is named "accessibility.tabfocus", and has five possible values:

  • pref("accessibility.tabfocus", 1);
    Focus only moves between text fields.

  • pref("accessibility.tabfocus", 2);
    Focus moves between form elements other than text fields (gee, I bet that's a popular choice).

  • pref("accessibility.tabfocus", 3);
    Focus moves between form elements of all types (buttons, menus, text, etc).

  • pref("accessibility.tabfocus", 4);
    Focus only moves between links on the page.

  • pref("accessibility.tabfocus", 7);
    Focus moves between both form elements and links.

Adding the Pref to Mozilla

Not sure where to find that user.js file? Well, start with Customizing Mozilla prefs. You don't need the whole thing, just the first couple paragraphs at the section I pointed to. Unfortunately, it tells you to put the user.js file in your profile folder, but not where that folder resides.

profilefolder.jpg On MacOS X, you will find it by opening a window in the Finder, clicking on the "Home" icon at the top of the window, then opening this series of folders:

  1. Library
  2. Mozilla
  3. Profiles
  4. the folder for your profile, probably "default user"
  5. [illegible characters].slt

That last one's weird, but you will see what I mean when you get there. On mine, the name of that last folder is "pbv16bjj.slt". It will be different for you.

There in that last folder you will find "prefs.js". Don't do anything to it, it's managed by Mozilla. Open a new file in your favorite text editor. Copy and paste one of the five example lines (above) into that text file, and save it as a text file into this folder. (Make sure you name the file exactly 'user.js'.

Restart Mozilla, and you're done. Couldn't be simpler! (Er, no, that's not right. Forget that last bit.)

Page last updated: 9/21/2003

is Seth Dillingham's
personal web site.
From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. - WC