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I would like to use the keyboard shortcut Alt+LeftArrow to go back a page in Safari. I tried adding this shortcut in System Preferences / Keyboard Shortcuts, but it had no effect. What can I do instead?

I am able to use System Preferences to assign other keyboard shortcuts to Safari's Back command. I am also able to assign Alt+LeftArrow to other menu commands in other apps. But Safari obstinately insists on interpreting Alt+LeftArrow as "scroll left a page", and it ignores my attempts to override that behaviour.

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You realize that both Ctrl-Left and Command-Left are already assigned to "Back", making that shortcut kind of redundant, even if possible? – Daniel Beck Jan 8 '12 at 19:38
I have a Fingerworks touchpad which recognizes a left-swipe gesture and turns it into the "Alt+LeftArrow" key combination. That's why I want this keyboard shortcut. – DamonJW Jan 8 '12 at 21:15
You could try to use KeyRemap4Macbook (works for all Macs despite the name) to remap Option and Control or Option and Command in Safari only. – Daniel Beck Jan 8 '12 at 21:19
That worked great. (If you repost as an answer, I can Accept it.) – DamonJW Jan 9 '12 at 18:32
BTW, it the keyboard shortcut does work when editing the URL. I thought I was going insane until I figured out I still had the custom shortcut assigned... – Daniel Beck Jan 11 '12 at 7:55
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It doesn't appear to be possible to use Opt-Left for any menu item in Safari. While the keyboard shortcut is assigned to the menu item, pressing it doesn't trigger the menu item.

You could try to use a key remapping software like KeyRemap4Macbook (works on all Macs, despite its name) and switch Control (or Command) and Option in Safari only.

Be aware that this will probably impact other key combinations as well, e.g. Cmd-Opt-I for the Web Inspector, or Opt-(Shift-)Letter which is used for international or other characters, like e.g.:


If you don't necessarily need it to be Option, you can always press Ctrl-Left or Command-Left, which both trigger the Back action.

You can also use e.g. Butler and its Keystrokes item to only remap Opt-Left to Cmd-Left in Safari only. All other key combinations will continue to work as before. The only difference will be in text fields, where Opt-Left will behave like Cmd-Left (obviously).

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