Tabbing Through Elements in Firefox on Mac


This weekend my laptop decided to die after the latest batch of Apple system updates. Not sure why, but on the first startup after the update, it wanted to randomly shut off (hard power-down) and could not get out of that cycle. Thanks, Apple.

So I did my first successful restore from a Time Machine backup. However, while I was waiting, I used a vanilla install of Firefox. I noticed that I couldn’t tab through form elements and it would jump straight from the page to the address bar. WTF?

Here is how you enable this tab behavior that you’re used to on Windows:

  1. Go to System Preferences… in the apple menu
  2. Open Keyboard & Mouse
  3. Go to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab
  4. Check All controls

This will let you tab through individual web elements normally. Screenshot below, in case it helps.

screenshot of keyboard pref pane in mac os x

Update: Alex Faaborg noted that you can track Bug 437296 if you’d like to follow overriding OS keyboard settings to maintain a consistent user experience in the browser across platforms.

Update: Chris Ilias pointed out so kindly that this is already in the Mozilla Knoledge base.

9 thoughts on “Tabbing Through Elements in Firefox on Mac

  1. This was one of the things that baffled me ever since I switched to Mac OS X and I personally think this ought to be on by default after installation. Ever since, every time I (re)install Mac OS X, it’s the first thing I enable.

  2. I’ve actually grown used to the two different modes and I tend to leave it in the short mode (text boxes and lists) by default.
    Hopefully you noticed the ^fn7 shortcut mentioned at the bottom of that dialog where you can quickly toggle to the all controls mode if it ends up being easier to use the keyboard than the touchpad for a certain page.

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