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?

13 Answers 13


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

  • 5
    Any solution for Chrome?
    – sorin
    Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 14:47
  • 2
    @SorinSbarnea: See my answer Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 12:13
  • 1
    It's not compatible with Firefox anymore.
    – rory.ap
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 15:02
  • This is a plugin that works in Firefox 64: addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/textarea-tabbing Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 22:21
  • 2
    This plugin no longer exists (at no fault of the answer, it has been nearly a decade since the question was answered and Firefox has changed a lot).
    – aoeu
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 13:23

In Windows, you can push Alt+09. This only works with the number pad number keys. (Release Alt after pressing the last number key.)

  • 6
    Be sure you are using the NumPad keys Commented Mar 17, 2010 at 0:30
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Apr 9, 2010 at 4:39
  • 2
    Only if you have Windows and a keyboard with a numpad. Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 4:15
  • 1
    ... and if you are using Chrome. FF sees it like the tab key, IE doesn't seem to do anything. Again, +1 for reminding this simple olden hack :) Commented Dec 18, 2011 at 17:48
  • 6
    This does not work for me in FF.
    – Pedro77
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 13:39

Linux and other POSIX systems (except Mac OS):

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

  1. Ctrl + Shift + U

  2. Type 9

  3. Press Space or Enter

Source: Wikipedia: Unicode Input

  • It works but not useful for indenting multiple lines at once. Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 5:17
  • This worked in Chrome! Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 17:27

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

  • 13
    Looks like this doesn't work in Chrome 50 on El Cap
    – jcollum
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 15:24
  • 2
    Nor on Firefox 53 on Sierra. Commented May 25, 2017 at 16:25
  • 2
    @JasonR.Coombs Still works in Safari, so it's safe to assume something changed in Firefox in the four years since I wrote this answer.
    – Daniel Beck
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 18:30

Open Notepad or similar text editor, and start a new blank document. Type Tab. Copy your tab character to the clipboard. (On Windows, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C will do this).

Now switch back to the textarea in your browser. Position the cursor where you want it, and paste the tab character. (Ctrl+V on Windows).

Voila, done!

  • 1
    Ciro, is it broken for regular textboxes and text input fields, or just "contenteditable" elements? Because if it's just a problem for "contenteditable", it might not affect that many people (the OP for example)...
    – Doin
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 12:46
  • 3
    This was the simplest solution, unless you need to do this frequently.
    – jcollum
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 15:33
  • No crap Sherlock. The point is to type it directly in-browser, especially in text fields, like how you would press Alt+Tab in Excel. It's a unique problem to the tab specifically in that it's a frequently used character in tabular/code formatting, but it's appropriated by browsers to jump between text fields. This so-called "solution" applies to all inaccessible characters. Commented Feb 7 at 0:12

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.


If it's your site:

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

jQuery(document).ready(function () {



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.

  • 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
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 22:17
  • Try this chief: stackoverflow.com/a/13130
    – Grizly
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 2:15

I've messed with AutoHotkey a bit to get this ability, and the only way to put tab character into form text fields that works for me is to paste the tab character from clipboard.

; Paste TAB character (U+0009) from clipboard
CapsLock & TAB::
ClipSaved := ClipboardAll
Clipboard := ""
Clipboard := A_TAB
Send ^v
Sleep 100
if (ClipSaved)
  Clipboard := ""
  Clipboard := ClipSaved
  ClipSaved = ""

This occasionally comes in handy even outside browsers.

  • This worked for me. I changed CapsLock & Tab:: to ^TAB:: so that CTRL+TAB will paste the tab character (instead of switching browser tabs). I am a big fan of AutoHotkey. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 14:19

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.


Tab Grabber is kinda like Tabinta, only for Chrome (allows TABs in textarea fields).


Use jQuerry's tabby! Supports select row and press tab odr SHIFT TAB



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):


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}; ")


"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.


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 


public void EnableTabType(TextBox tb)
    "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: http://www.beansoftware.com/ASP.NET-Tutorials/Access-Tab-Key.aspx


or using ahk to insert 4*space in editor:

tabspace:="    "

you can see code details explaintation in ahk code

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