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Website Removes Browser Functionality

Here's an interesting point concerning user interface:

The very popular (even linked from disables "ALT-F", which I commonly use to enter the address bar in I.E. to visit another website, or (even worse for the promotion of to copy and paste their URL to someone else.

It's bad enough when expected functionality is missing... it's even worse (in the case of websites like this) when it is there already and removed.

I emailed a bug report.  Do you think they consider this a bug?

Matthew Doucette
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

What browser are you using?  In IE or Firebird alt-F doesn't do anything useful.

Almost Anonymous
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Matthew means ALT + D, which they've set up as the keyboard shortcut for selecting the Dictionary radio button using the HTML "accesskey" attribute.

John Topley (
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

I think you mean ALT-D.

If you look at the header on that web page you will see under their search box

_Dictionary _Thesaurus _Web

So they remapped the ALT-D, ALT-T and ALT-W shortcuts to those choices.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Actually, it's ALT-D that doesn't work as expected on the website, not ALT-F. The reason is that the page has access keys defined for some of the controls on the page. Note that the "D" in "Dictionary" is underlined, for example, and if you view the source you will see that there is an 'accesskey="D"' attribute defined for the radio button for "Dictionary". Pressing ALT-D selects the radio button for "Dictionary". Other access keys (ALT-T, ALT-W, and ALT-S) are also defined for controls on the page (the other 2 radio buttons plus the "Search" button).

This is a useful way to add keyboard navigation to the controls on a web page, but website authors should be careful not to override any of the existing ALT-key sequences used by the browser - which means essentially limiting the site's access keys to ALT-0, ALT-1, ..., ALT-9.

Philip Dickerson
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

They probably should have set it to ALT + I, which isn't used by IE.

John Topley (
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Use the F6 key to get to the address bar instead ;-)

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

I've always used CTRL-L, which works in both IE and Mozilla as well.

Of course sort of like single pixel popups that appear outside of the screen and spam you with ads, the real blame goes with the client that is letting someone other than the owner control its behaviour in negative ways.

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 uses javascript to keep you from selecting text with the mouse. Quite stupid, since you can get the same text from the html source or simply disable javascript.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Yet another javascript to add to my favorites

showCookies=javascript:alert( document.cookie )

Anybody have any other goodies...

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

CTRL + L in Internet Explorer brings up the Open dialogue, which isn't quite the same thing (as does CTRL + O, so why have two shortcuts for the same thing?!)

However, what's more interesting to me is that there are a whole group of shortcuts in IE that aren't documented on the menus themselves!

CTRL + B - Organise Favourites
CTRL + D - Add to Favourites

John Topley (
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

One I use all the time:

Resize to 800x600:

(-20 pixels to simulate the bottom taskbar)

Brad Wilson (
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

You can still hit the "masked" menu shortcuts if you release the ALT key before pressing the shortcut key. But of course that will never ever feel "right"...

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

It feels fine to me. I always release the ALT before continuing with the accelerator key sequence. I'm not sure whether it's because it was once necessary or just they way I was taught to do things (perhaps based on the old F10 menu access--which still works, by the way). I also recall, perhaps incorrectly, that these sequences were documented with comma separators rather than plus signs to indicate a series of separate key strokes (a sequence) rather than a key combination.

Ron Porter
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

alt followed by d != alt at the same time as d. try it on this page (which doesn't use d as an accesskey). one is a menu accelerator thing, the other is a true accelerator key. the joy of windows using control and alt confusingly. i think osx has it even worse now, as the old 'command for shortcuts' thing now mixes with control and alt.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

This is slightly different:

I was using Outlook's Web Access to read mail.  I wanted to bookmark the page, so I hit control-d.  Guess what happened?  I deleted an email.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Joel wrote an article on UI design a while back that discussed how the program model should match the user's mental model of how they think the program should work just by looking at it.

This includes situations where users expect things to work a certain way from previous experience they've had with other programs.  In this case, it's from site to site within the browser instead of app to app, but these are all obvious violations of the Match-the-User-Model rule.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

True, "alt followed by d != alt at the same time as d", but ALT when released sets the focus to the menu line, and then any of the menu shortcuts will work.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Sorry for the typo, I meant ALT-D.

Matthew Doucette
Friday, June 11, 2004

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