Changes to ‘Esc’ key behavior

Starting with Firefox 20, the ‘Esc’ key will no longer stop a page from loading or stop animated GIFs from animating. This change goes back to November of 2010 with Bug 614304 (ESC key aborts XMLHttpRequest and WebSocket). Without getting into too much technical details, pressing the Esc key can cause major problems for sites that use Web Apps that are coded in Ajax or use jQuerry. With the growing popularity and number of web apps came a great number of users accidentally hitting the escape key. So effective with Firefox 20 the Esc key will no longer stop anything, it simply won’t do anything.

There was a proposal (bug 824248) to remap the old Esc key behavior to SHIFT+Esc. However, it seems that Mozilla does not want to make this change as a result the bug has been marked as RESOVLED WONTFIX. There is an add-on that will allow users to press SHIFT+Esc to stop animated gifs (and anything else on the page). The add-on is SuperStop and only works with Firefox 20 (moving into the Aurora branch next week) or newer.

7 Comments on Changes to ‘Esc’ key behavior

  1. This is very disappointing. I just discovered this behavior and was trying to figure out what was wrong. I use all the time in Firefox, especially with Finds and page navigation via keyboard. Not having makes my browsing experience extremely awkward now.

  2. Thank you for posting the fix. Animated gifs drive me crazy and I was searching for another browser until I found your post.

  3. Michael Dulli | April 3, 2013 at 7:30 PM |

    Ugh, Firefox releases are getting to be annoyances because of the things they break. I’m downgrading back to 19 until there’s a plugin that brings back the escape behavior without the shift modifier.

  4. In Internet Explorer the escape key stops animated gifs so any application developer trying to use the escape key is going to fail with a huge percentage of users anyway so why make Firefox different?

    • My guess is because with by design Gecko (Firefox’s rendering engine) the Escape key stops EVERYTHING (not just animated gifs) where as Trident (Internet Explorer) just stops animations. Not sure about webkit (Chrome and Safari), I almost thinking the Escape key does nothing there.

  5. So what if the escape key causes some obscure Ajax and JQuerry crap that shouldn’t be monitoring the escape key in the first place! Escape is a standard defacto key for stopping animated GIFs ever since web browsers began in the 1990s! Screw newer add-on crap that isn’t coded right in the first place! Stupid Mozilla is screwing up Firefox so bad with its inept version numbering, design choices like disabling escape and removing most :visited link CSS customization! I’d be off to another web browser if there was one as good and as customizable as Firefox is. Firefox is only surviving THIS long because extension developers are bothering to put up with it–but for how long?? Mozilla better be careful…

  6. I agree with Eep. The fact that cancelling requests breaks some web apps is the fault of the developers of those web apps, and no one else. Most AJAX and jQuery is rubbish anyway. It’s usually only used because it’s a trend (and not because it makes sense for the task at hand), violates numerous conventions of the web, breaks FAR more browser functionality than just those related to requests, and is more often than not abysmally badly implemented. By removing browser functionality just to hide some of these problems, Mozilla is returning to the old ways: instead of promoting and enforcing clean standards, just build in hacks to accomodate the lazyness and stupidity of a majority of web developers.

    By disabling the Escape key entirely, important functionality is lost on any page that *isn’t* crappily coded. Such as spending half an hour filling out a form, catching a lengthy stream, or – yes indeed – working on something in one of those new-fangled web apps, before accidentally activating some link that leads away from the page. The reflex is to wildly hit the Escape button to cancel the request and stay on the page. Now, that’s no longer possible and the work done on the previous page is almost always completely lost, making extensions such as Lazarus ever more important (but even they don’t and can’t work in every situation). You *could* go find the cancel button in the toolbar and click it. But while the request latency was usually enough to be able to hit the Escape key in time, moving the cursor to that button and clicking it usually takes way too long. Especially as, conveniently, Firefox has in a previous update opted to miniaturise and hide the cancel button in the most inconvenient spot they could think of. So trying to prevent losing work is now a pixel hunt under impossible time pressure. That’s not what I call user-friendly.

    There’s a Firefox extension called “Key config” which allows you to remap the Escape key to the “Stop loading page” function. I don’t know if it works for animated GIFs. Unfortunately I also found that the extension has about a 50% chance of failing to do what it’s supposed to (on Firefox 34). By now I have about a dozen Firefox extensions installed with the sole purpose of restoring functionality that has been removed at some point since Firefox 3, and it’s getting somewhat ridiculous. I can only hope that a good new browser alternative will come along someday soon. With the old Opera gone, I’m kind of lost.

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