Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Why disable right-click on web pages?

One of the most annoying things I encounter is the stupid popup dialog when I go to right click on a web page. I usually use the right click to copy some text, so there are numerous work-arounds.

But I'm just curious, why bother doing it at all? Are they trying to protect something?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I saw this on an ebay auction page yesterday.  Stupidest thing ever.

My impression is that they're either trying to block you from linking to their images and stealing their bandwidth for your homepage, or they're convinced that HTML matters in the world and they must protect their 'intellectual property'.

Either way, I think it's overreacting/arrogance.  But if that's all you got...

Capn' Kirk
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Some people do it to try to keep viewers from saving the images from their site. Or to keep them from viewing the page's source. It's not terribly effective for either goal, and I tend to think it's a lot more trouble and annoyance than it's worth. But obviously not everyone agrees with me (gasp!).

Sean Harding
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"Some people do it to try to keep viewers from saving the images from their site."

This is rather important.  My company runs a very popular website where we have thousands of original product photographs.  We also sell photographs.

We don't prevent people from right-clicking but we do make it difficult to save the large versions of our photographs.  Our popup window closes if you come anywhere near it.  Obviously, it's pretty easy to look at the source and cut'n'paste the URL to get the image.  The idea is just to keep the honest people honest.

I would never, however, disable the right-click on a page.  That's just way to annoying.  Like google, we have an implicit "don't be evil" policy.

Almost Anonymous
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Re: images

People just Print Screen and paste into MS paint, and voila, perfect digital copy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Or check your filesystem for where your web browser caches the images.  One site I went to took great pains to disable print screen but failed to realize that his images were conveniently cached on disk by IE anyway.

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I'm a photographer, so I know very well how important image protection is. But I also know that a lot of even relatively non-technical users know several ways around the "disabled right-click" protection. I've seen 12 year old girls "borrow" images from sites using that type of protection. It has never been effective agains people who are determined, and at this point the ways around it are known widely enough that it's not effective against casual "borrowers" either.

My point was not that protecting your images isn't important. It was that disabling right click is a horribly ineffective way to do so.

Sean Harding
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Of course, most of those images that you are trying to protect are of such low quality (low bandwidth compressed versions of the real image) that copy and pasting them, in hopes of printing, yields crap.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Although extremely irritating, it has the effect of encourages users to not copy. I have seen some sites also showing a jscript/javascript pop-up explicitly explaining why they need to prevent it--which most people understand (but find irritating ofcourse). It's a matter of fair-use I suppose.

Let say you pay for an article on a tech site, they have sites up that promises to be up for the forseeable future, but you have to keep paying subscriptions. Let's say you need that article for a really long time, and you are worried the company will go bankrupt someday.. so you try to make an offline copy of the article--hoping that since you already paid for the viewing rights of the article--you have some right to back it up on to your hard drive. Most sites I have seen so far does the right thing in this instance--they let you make a copy.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A futher question would be why does the developer feel the need to put up a message?  If you want to disable right click, go ahead and do it but don't then retaliate against the user with an annoying popup box.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

sounds like the popup is the point:
the user tries the simplest mechanism to 'borrow' a picture/whatever, and gets scolded.

people who don't think about intellectual property rights might stop & think.

of course sometimes this is irritating. kind of like unresizable popup info windows with right-click and selection disabled. and help content outside the visible area.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I think disabling javascript in firefox would also allow you to right click. Else just save the webpage on HD and open the page in notepad and checkout the links.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I'm a photographer, so I know very well how important image protection is. But I also know that a lot of even relatively non-technical users know several ways around the "disabled right-click"

I think that you should just put a little visual stamp on your pictures like: Sean Harding @ this website and make the stamp so that the picture will become really ugly when you try to remove it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I come across it on bank sites. I presume the reason there is that they want to keep control over the flow for security reasons, and also want to ensure that you don't leave the session open.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

If the right-click disabled feature thing annoys you, enter this URL in your browser:


And you will have the normal right-click contextual menu.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

or just use Firefox where it's a config option.

fool for python
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

RE: commercial photos.

Why not watermarks? 

christopher baus (
Tuesday, May 18, 2004 does something similar - they put a watermark on their preview images so if you do use it in a web site their logo will be there

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Having trouble with not being able to right click? Usually, F11 for instant address bar, copy the address into a new window and hey presto...

Jack of all
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Most site Admins are morons. This does not protect the source code…View source code.  This also does not protect intellectual property such as pictures; all you need to do is drag drop the picture you want to the active title bar in IE then you get a page with just the picture and no extra code to mess with you. Sites that do this prove to me some site admin somewhere wanted to impress a boss who is clueless as to what people actually do online but they were able to say “It make our site more secure” I refuse to buy from sites that do this, it takes too much time to surf their site w/o a right click option. Most of the time I open links in separate windows. E.G. Right click "Open in new window" so if I can't even do this I don't want to buy merchandise from the site. I also compare shop buy copying the text of what I'm shopping for and on sites with the right click disabled I have to highlight and Ctrl-C to copy and Ctrl-V to paste and it becomes to time consuming. The sites that do this are aimed at people who are computer illiterate and should just stick with AOL and IM. The rest of us will continue to seek out and shop intelligently planed sites.

Jim m
Monday, June 14, 2004

right click where you want, hold it, left click to close the popup (of hit enter), then release the right click over whatever you wanted open. 

  no idea why this works, it's the non-technical people's trick


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Ummmm that last one doesn't do anything. But the one above it got me my images. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home