Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ctrl-backspace still inconsistent

I know this is mostly a repost from something I wrote long ago, but it's still happening in Windows 7. Apparently no one at Microsoft noticed the Ctrl-backspace behavior in Windows is very annoying.

Under Linux, Ctrl-backspace always deletes the previous word. It always does that, no matter what application I am using. For example: I have a long passphrase (about 10-12 characters long.) When typing my passphrase under Linux, if I get 8 or 9 characters in, then mis-type a key, I just hit Ctrl-backspace and start over.

Under Windows, this doesn't work! At login (or when unlocking the screen, etc.) Ctrl-backspace inserts a Ctrl-backspace character.

Yet in other Microsoft apps, Ctrl-backspace works "properly", and deletes the previous word. It works that way in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint (but not Microsoft Excel), and Microsoft Internet Explorer. In Notepad, Ctrl-backspace inserts a Ctrl-backspace character - but Wordpad works "properly".

These are all Microsoft apps, but they don't act the same. Why the inconsistent behavior!? How confusing!


  1. Using CTRL-BACKSPACE in Gnome Terminal (terminator) deletes just the previous character here.

  2. I suspect the differing behavior is a historical artifact. "MS Office" used to be a variety of projects; it was much later that everything got whacked together and some effort put into making it look like one package that did everything. It may be something worth nagging MS about since they do have a genuine interest in consistency in the interface (despite the total overhaul from Winduhs XP to Visduh and W7 - they flushed their own User Interaction documents down the toilet to pull that one off).

  3. (this might be a dupe comment, since blogspot seemed to accept my other comment, but isn't showing it.)

    Serge, the command line (terminal window) will not use ctrl-backspace like other GUI applications. At least, in Linux and other Unix environment. That's because the terminal window you refer to just emulates a terminal, and the shell (bash, tcsh, etc.) runs in it. But the shell also has to be able to run in other, actual terminal environments. And ctrl-backspace isn't always possible for those physical terminals. Instead, you often see a Meta-backspace combo, like Esc-backspace or Gold-backspace, depending on the environment.

  4. Oh great, now blogspot is showing my other comment. Sorry for the dupe. Maybe JH can delete one of them.

  5. @some guy: I deleted your dupe post, per your request.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.