I cannot make CTRL+H do anything else than "Open history" under Google Chrome. I tried the Chrome plugin allowing to redefine keyboard shortcuts but I can only add "actions" or whatever that means to a keyboard shortcut and apparently it's done using some gigantic JavaScript hack.

Here's the plugin:


In any case I cannot make CTRL+H work as the backspace key under Chrome (i.e. delete the key at the left of the cursor). I'd particularly like that to work in the address bar / search bar (which is the same "bar" under Chrome) and in text edit form as well.

So how can I make CTRL+H work as the backspace key under Google Chrome? (Debian GNU/Linux Wheezy here).

Note that if the answer is to use the plugin for Chrome allowing to change shortcuts, then I'd need the exact method, step-by-step, as to how to do it because I already tried it and couldn't make it work

  • 1
    I take it using Backspace is not an option? :)
    – terdon
    Aug 18, 2012 at 17:44
  • @terdon: I use "CTRL+H" to delete the char to the left of the cursor since decades at the shell prompt, in my text editors, in my IDEs, etc. The actual "backspace" key is quite far and hard to reach compared to CTRL+H (left pinky on ctrl which is where 'caps lock' is on most keyboards) and 'h' is home row for the right hand. That actual backspace key is quite far to reach for me and I never ever use anything else but CTRL+H to 'backspace' anyway. My keyboard is a happy hacking pro 2 keyboard btw (a $300 keyboard using Topre switches). Aug 18, 2012 at 19:27
  • Hmm, have you tried mapping it for all X apps? maybe using xbindkeys?
    – terdon
    Aug 18, 2012 at 21:23
  • @terdon: I could try something like that but the problem is that I'm not sure it's that easy to bind two keys so that they act as if it was just one key :-/ I hoped changing a shortcut under Chrome wouldn't be that hard :-/ Aug 18, 2012 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


I know this is an old question, but I came across this while trying to do the same thing as you so I'm gonna post this anyways.

I'm using Chromium and I used Ubuntu 12.04 (now I'm using Gentoo), but it shouldn't matter.


$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-key-theme "Emacs"

will change the key bindings to the Emacs binding. If you're fine with that, then this is all. However, if you want to use Ctrl-a as "select all", there's a bit more work to do.

Take a look at /usr/share/themes/Default/gtk-2.0-key/gtkrc and /usr/share/themes/Emacs/gtk-2.0-key/gtkrc. The syntax should not be too difficult to understand. Copy all the key bindings you want to use to the /usr/share/themes/Default/gtk-2.0-key/gtkrc. Don't forget to add the

class "GtkEntry" binding "foo"
class "GtkTextView" binding "foo"
class "GtkTextView" binding "bar"

part, which can be found at the very end of the file.


The settings should be reflected by switching to the Emacs theme and switching back to the Default theme.

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-key-theme "Emacs"
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-key-theme "Default"


Create and add the following to ~/.gtkrc-2.0

gtk-key-theme-name = "Default"

Restart Chromium and the settings should be reflected.

The best thing about this is that even if you set Ctrl-w to delete one word, you're still able to close tab when you're not inputting.

P.S. I also use the happy hacking keyboard and I'm happy to find someone who uses it too :)

Ubuntu 18.04 (GTK3)

Edit: 11/01/2018

After nearly 5 years, I'm updating this post for Ubuntu 18.04. I'm currently using Firefox, but the following should be independent of what browser you use.

On GTK3, the ~/.gtkrc-2.0 method no longer works. Instead, edit the ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini and add the following line to the end:


If you want to modify the bindings, the Emacs binding can be found in /usr/share/themes/Emacs/gtk-3.0/gtk-keys.css, which can be copied over to ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css and modified.

Some references:

  • thanks a lot for that answer, even if the question was/is old : ) I'll try that. +1 and welcome : ) Jan 3, 2014 at 3:14
  • This is an excellent submission for your very first post here. Kudos! Jan 3, 2014 at 3:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .