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A lot of the time, when I want to format text within a web page's text box I'll hit the Tab key.

Unfortunately, that doesn't insert the tab character but instead moves the control to the next form element (like a button or a check box).

For browsers like Firefox/IE, is there a way to get the formatting behavior of a tab, within a text box, by typing a key combination?

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10 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Tabinta is a Firefox add-on that lets you do this.

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Any solution for Chrome? –  sorin Mar 16 '12 at 14:47
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@SorinSbarnea: See my answer –  Janus Troelsen Jan 20 at 12:13
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In Windows, you can push Alt+09. This only works with the number pad number keys. (Release Alt after pressing the last number key.)

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Be sure you are using the NumPad keys –  CatamountJack Mar 17 '10 at 0:30
3  
This is perfect. To clarify (on any version of Windows): Hold your ALT key. Press and release 0 on the numeric keypad. Press and release 9 on the numeric keypad. Release the ALT key. Then cut and paste the Tab you just made if you have to do it a bunch! –  Chris Mar 24 '10 at 0:38
    
@Chris: When I follow those exact instructions, it doesn't insert a tab character, but acts like the tab key. Did you try this in a web browser? –  Casebash Apr 9 '10 at 4:39
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Only if you have Windows and a keyboard with a numpad. –  Mechanical snail Oct 11 '11 at 4:15
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I does not work on ubuntu with chrome –  sorin Mar 16 '12 at 14:45
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Linux and other POSIX systems:

To input tabs in GTK+ applications (like Firefox or Chrome):

Control+Shift+U9

Source: Wikipedia: Unicode Input

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thanks! the best solution for a linux laptop without a numpad –  akostadinov Nov 7 '12 at 16:08
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If it's your site:

jQuery plugin: http://teddevito.com/demos/textarea.html

jQuery(document).ready(function () {

     $("textarea").tabby();

});

Load jQuery and the plugin first, then you can tab and make a tab, and shift+tab to "untab" as it were.

For browser-wide support, you will have to use an extension, userscript, plugin, etc. like: 46704 for Greasemonkey. (I would have linked, but I'm limited to 1.)

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The link is dead. What's with all this jQuery stuff. There's got to be a way to accept tabs using plain JavaScript. The jQuery plugin is always nice for an already-implemented solution, but it's not really the solution. –  Triynko 11 hours ago
    
Try this chief: stackoverflow.com/a/13130 –  Grizly 7 hours ago
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There is a Chrome plugin called Textarea Code Formatter.

It allows you insert tabs into text boxes in the Chrome browser. It also allows you to highlight multiple lines and insert tabs before each selected line.

However, an issue is that often you want standard tab insertion behaviour. If you do use tab to toggle between boxes, then you may to select "disabled" by default in the options.

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In Safari and Firefox on Mac OS X, you can press ControlOptionTab to insert a tab in the text field you're currently editing.

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The big advantage of Tabinta in Firefox is that you can map the tab character to another hotkey, since you really don't want to lose the tab key default behavior in the browser.

With Internet Explorer you have no solution in the way of browser extensions that I am aware of. Here the only way is to keep the tab character in the clipboard by having previously copied it from some other program like notepad.

javascript solutions require the name of the textbox where they will act on, so this is far from ideal or practical. While alt keycode combinations under both browsers still execute the normal tab character keypress event so they don't work either.

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Could someone make it easier? In vb.net just set an attribute of textbox object. See property named "AcceptsTab". Just set it to "true" and you will get your textbox accept your tab character...

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Here is the simple JavaScript solution: stackoverflow.com/a/6140696/88409. Ignore the jQuery event handler. Basically, you just need to capture the keydown event, detect when the key pressed is tab (keycode == 9), and manually insert the tab character at the current caret position within the text field, and update the caret position to be after the tab. –  Triynko 11 hours ago
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To type the tab key in a text box, you can use a script like this (text box which accepts tab keys is named txtLongText):

[VB.NET]

txtLongText.Attributes.Add("onkeydown", _ "if(event.which || event.keyCode){if ((event.which == 9)" & _ "|| (event.keyCode == 9)) {document.getElementById('" & _ txtLongText.ClientID + "').selection = " & _ document.selection.createRange();" & _ txtLongText.ClientID & ".selection.text = " & _ " String.fromCharCode(9);return false;}} else {return true}; ")

[C#]

txtLongText.Attributes.Add("onkeydown", "if(event.which || event.keyCode){if ((event.which == 9)" + "|| (event.keyCode == 9)) {document.getElementById('"+ txtLongText.ClientID + "').selection = document.selection.createRange();" + txtLongText.ClientID + ".selection.text = String.fromCharCode(9);return false;}} else {return true}; ");

Or better, to avoid hard coding, you can put this code in a function named EnableTabType. The function has only one parameter, which specifies what is TextBox control where you need to enable typing of Tab characters.

[VB.NET]

Public Sub EnableTabType(tb As TextBox) tb.Attributes.Add("onkeydown", _ "if(event.which || event.keyCode){if((event.which == 9)" & _ "|| (event.keyCode == 9)) {document.getElementById('" & _ tb.ClientID & "').selection=document.selection.createRange();" & _ tb.ClientID & ".selection.text = " & _ " String.fromCharCode(9);return false;}}else{return true};") End Sub

[C#]

public void EnableTabType(TextBox tb) { tb.Attributes.Add("onkeydown", "if(event.which || event.keyCode){if ((event.which == 9)" + "|| (event.keyCode == 9)) {document.getElementById('"+ tb.ClientID + "').selection = document.selection.createRange();" + tb.ClientID + ".selection.text = String.fromCharCode(9);return false;}} else {return true}; ");

Source

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I've messed wit AutoHotkey a bit to get this ability, and the only 'bulletproof' solution I found is really to paste (not send) the tab character itself.

;
; TAB character
; pasted from clipboard
; win tab
;
#tab::
old_clip:=clipboard
clipboard:=A_Tab
clipWait
sendInput,^v
clipboard:=old_clip
clipWait
return

It turns out that this AHK bind is even useful in text editors that handles the TAB keystroke extra; eg. IDE configured to use autoindent-by-spaces.

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