I often cycle through my Firefox tabs using Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab. But whenever it reaches a tab that is running a Flash (or similar) plugin, Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab won't work anymore, because Flash has the focus and overwrites the general keybindings. I have to stop and click outside of the Flash app to continue the cycling.

Basically, I hate that Flash hijacks the keyboard focus. I never use it anyway, i.e. I never use the keyboard to control certain elements within the Flash app. Can I turn it off, meaning, can I tell Flash not to overwrite Firefox' keyboard bindings?

  • 13
    I also find this very annoying and would love to see a solution!
    – Palmin
    Nov 3, 2010 at 22:20
  • Mine didn't do this in the past, strangely. It seems to have started when I upgraded Flash in about June 2012? The worst is that it hijacks my multimedia volume keys, so I can't adjust my system volume while watching YouTube. Insane.
    – endolith
    Aug 22, 2012 at 1:27
  • I have the same problem with Chrome.
    – Metafaniel
    May 29, 2018 at 14:43

9 Answers 9


Folks, be aware that this is a Flash bug!!! The Flash developers (I mean the developers who build flash) ought to be lined up and shot. This is a programming mistake typical of somebody first-day-in-the-real-world that I can't believe has existed for years now (no mass outrage also shows how few use the keyboard, aka those people who do everything at a snail's pace with the mouse, but don't get me started on that).

When developing a plug-in/etc. you can subscribe to a OS event that gives you EVERY key a user hits. The plug-in/etc can examine the key, and then tell the OS, 1-I don't need that key so process it normally, or 2-I'm doing something with that key so I'll handle it and you ignore it. Most components don't even subscribe to this event, but Flash is super arrogant, and telling the OS "I WANT EVERY KEY". For Windows developers, this is ProcessDialogKey() or something of the like. Again they all ought to be shot, because they're basically saying "hey the browser shortcut keys, I'll eat those and do nothing with them!" Total idiots. Please note that this isn't a FOCUS issue. Most components run just fine with the focus and let the OS process the keys the plug-in/etc doesn't need (which is almost every key, I mean c'mon what keys does Flash need).

The other thing that is sooooo stupid about this, is anybody with any programming experience could walk into Adobe, pull up the code and fix this in 2 minutes.

This is not the only problem like this -- if you have Windows 7 64bit, opening a new window in FireFox that has a flash on the page will set focus back to the first FireFox window. This shows a complete lack of understanding of Windows programming and super-stupid use of Windows API functions like "BringWindowToTop()" etc. Here's a link: Windows 7 FireFox Window Switching with Flash


  • 2
    Awesome writeup, but a lot of rage ;) Jun 13, 2014 at 6:49
  • 1
    this is actually a pretty useful rant. Jun 25, 2014 at 20:39

You can use this add on: Focus Regainer, it solves your issue.

  • Sadly it does not give back the focus to Firefox automatically, you still have to hit a shortcut.
    – Otiel
    Jul 26, 2013 at 9:19
  • 1
    Does not work with Ctrl-Tab though, which was part of the question. Aug 7, 2014 at 7:14
  • Also see: Focus Regainer Lite (from the same author).
    – Bohr
    Apr 11, 2015 at 11:02

The whole point of including keyboard shortcuts in Flash (and those ugly yellow borders that appear whenever you hit Tab and Flash has the focus) is accessibility. Everything should be somehow accessible with the keyboard. Letting Flash randomly and unexpectedly steal focus, with no way to go back, completely misses this goal, especially since most Flash apps are mouse-driven anyway.

It doesn't have to be a single-key shortcut to get out--it can be Ctrl+Right Alt+Shift+Super+Left Alt+Up+Down+Up+Down+Asterisk, but it just has to be there somehow.

Apparently, this has been Bug 78414 in Firefox for ten years now.


It's a known issue and according to this, the fix is accepted and ready to be implemented. No idea what's keeping them from doing so though.


  • The reason for this is most likely that it would be confusing to the user. The user's intent is not clear: perhaps pressing F5 has some function within the Flash player, and therefore should not refresh the page. A better example is the scroll wheel: should Firefox scroll the page up and down, while an embedded YouTube player wants to change the volume? I think that in the interest of maintaining the user experience, this hasn't been implemented (just as it hasn't been implemented on other browsers, such as Chrome). Nov 10, 2010 at 14:51
  • 5
    why not implement it as an option but disable it by default, only to make interested users able to enable it explicitly in about:config ?
    – n611x007
    Nov 4, 2012 at 22:01

You have this problem with chrome and ie, too. I do not think its an pc/mac/somegear problem either: That tiny little missbehavior anoys me for years. Finally i just decided to do something. The recently read google hits refered to an osx enviroment. Those guys thought it would be a mac problem.

To those who might read this and have any technical background: my guess is, that this problem with a browser plugin (flash player) is identical to that problem a regular applications (or '') havappse. Best example would be antivir, catching focus to show up the own comercial window after updating. As i use antivar exclusive for private concerns, that keeps minimizing my fullscreen game-'window', which causes game crashes in some case.

In the case of antivir it is not necessarry to catch focus at all. For setting up the plugin within th browser 'sandbox' and keep playing the vid it might be essential. However - i can speak only for regular windows apps - when it were my app stealing the focus, i have no system build in chance to give the focus back to that application the user expect to process his input. Even giving it back to those apps my app stole from is not an easy option.

Even all those browse extensions are called 'add-in', most likly the word in has nothing to do with it. Anyone building an add-in would keep the process-logic capseld outside of the brwoser to work with i.e. the jre and providing only a minimal interface in the code of the add-in for displaying issues. Otherwise you could build seperate versions of process logic for each browser on top to the system issues - just compare watching youtube video on iphone and on android.


For Mac users, I can suggest a non-ideal but simple method that works for me at least. In System Preferences, I set up a keyboard shortcut to "Move focus to the menu bar". If I'm watching a youtube video and the focus is captured, I can use the keyboard to move focus to the menu, and then I can open a new tab with CMD-t.


In Windows, you can Alt+Tab to the next window (task), then Alt+Shift+Tab back.

When you come back to the browser window, the keyboard access is regained by the browser (as a whole), so you can use Alt+D to move to the address bar (or similar) to move on with life.

  • 3
    Thanks for your insight, but the question here is tagged "Firefox".
    – Otiel
    Jul 26, 2013 at 9:16

After no success searching for solution to this with the web, official website, firefox add-ons system, google search, etc. i created my own fix for this, DLL file that enables keyboard focus reverting by pressing F8 key (can be customized). Link and can read more about it here: http://ikk.byethost9.com/index.php?MainMenu=ff_ctrlt_fix Its for 32bit Firefox on Windows.


Actually, the comment by forrestoff about Chrome applies to all browsers, Firefox included. Thank you for pointing this out (I've been wishing for a solution to this problem for ages)!

Alt-tab is a combination in Windows to toggle the focus through all the programs that are running. If you press it enough times to cycle away from your browser window and then back again to the browser your focus will then be on the browser part (and not the flash part) and all your old shortcut keys will work again.

I haven't tried this but I believe you could accomplish the same in Windows 7 with the Windows-tab combination.

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