Helpful Hints – Tabbing to form fields in Firefox
Ever wish you could press in Firefox and get focus on the first form field of the page, ignoring all the links? Or maybe you want to tab between all form elements with the exception of text fields? Or perhaps you want tabbing behaviour that is some combination of the above?
The developers behind Firefox realized that people would want tab behaviour conforming to their personal keyboard accessibility requirements, and to this end they’ve included a very handy means of getting the behaviour you want.
Enter the accessibility.tabfocus configuration. This property allows you to specify an integer corresponding to a particular tab focusing behaviour.
1 – Give focus to text fields only. (The default in OS X.)
2 – Give focus to all form elements except text fields.
4 – Give focus to links (and linked images) only.
The value for accessibility.tabfocus can also be an integer like 7 (which is the default value). 7 (1+2+4) implies that Firefox will focus all field elements and links as well; its effect is the behaviour of 1, 2, and 4, combined.
You can read up a bit more to understand the different values.
For those who have forgotten how to manipulate the advanced configuration preferences in Firefox, you can do so as follows:
Open a new tab and enter “about:config” into the address bar:
Accept the disclaimer that you may break Firefox if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’d advise the reader to be careful about what they do beyond this point!
Enter “tabfocus” into the Filter field to find the accessibility.tabfocus property:
Now just double click the property to be prompted for a new value.
Personally, I would like to tab through all form fields while ignoring links on the page. To achieve this outcome, I used a value of 3 (1 + 2), a combination of tabbing through text fields and tabbing through other form fields.
I hope this Helpful Hint is of use to those of you who are big on keyboard accessibility.