Surf Webpages Like A Text File Or Document In Firefox and IE 8

Surfing webpages always requires you to use the mouse to select text or click on links etc, now compare this with a text file or document where u can easily move around in the page using your arrow keys. The idea behind allowing users to browse webpages using keyboards is also known as Caret Navigation. According to wikipedia:

In computing, caret navigation is a kind of keyboard navigation where a caret (also known as "text cursor", "text insertion cursor", or "text selection cursor") is used to navigate within a text document. It is a fundamental feature for applications that deal with text, for example text editors, word processors and desktop publishing programs

If you would like to surf webpages the same way, you can easily accomplish it easily in Firefox and Internet Explorer.


Caret browsing is definitely useful for mouse-less browsing of webpages, along with a easy way to select text and click on links on a webpage. If you are looking to move to caret browsing, here is a simple way in which you can turn on caret browsing in Firefox and IE 8.

Turning on Caret Browsing in Firefox

Firefox provides users with a hotkey to toggle between caret and regular browsing, pressing the F7 hotkey will display a dialog which will alert you about entering caret browsing mode, to disable this dialog from appearing everytime, select the option to not display the dialog box again.


You can return back to regular mode browsing by pressing the F7 hotkey once again. If you want to turn on Caret browsing by default, you can do it by opening Tools > Options and navigating to the Advanced tab. In the options available check the box next to Always use the cursor keys to navigate within pagesand click on the Ok button.


To disable Caret Browsing by default, uncheck the option and click on Ok.

Turning On Caret Browsing in Internet Explorer 8

The Caret browsing feature has only been introduced in IE8, so if you want to start using it you will first have to download the IE8 Beta 2 version. Once you have downloaded and installed IE8, you can use the F7 hotkey to surf in caret and regular browsing mode.

To turn on caret browsing by default, go to Tools > Internet Options and clicking on the advanced tab.


In the options under Accessibility select the checkbox next to Enable Caret Browsing for new windows and tabsand click on Ok. Uncheck the box if you want to disable the feature.

Have you tried using the Caret browsing? What are your opinions about it? Do let us know.

Published by

Keith Dsouza

I am the editor-in-chief and owner of Techie Buzz. I love coding and have contributed to several open source projects in the past. You can know more about me and my projects by visiting my Personal Website.I am also a social networking enthusiast and can be found active on twitter, you can follow Keith on twitter @keithdsouza. You can click on my name to visit my Google+ profile.

  • I am in caret browsing mode :D Great post!

  • I am surprised to know about this. Thanks for this tip.

    I will sometime in future do caret browsing when my mouse goes crazy and doesn’t work

  • Pingback: Friday Night Links Party - 03 October 2008 | Nihar's World()

  • Anonymous

    I guess “caret browsing” is nice if you are disabled or have “mouse-issues”. What I would like, is some way of turning off the “feature” (“mis-feature” IMHO) that you can at all use the tab-key to “navigate” (ie. links) in the page. I would LOVE to be able to use the tab-key in a “sensible” manner (again, IMHO) – Which is to say for switching between text-fields, most notably to get the cursor back in the address-bar and/or the search-box (I guess it would also be ok if you could tab-key to text-fields in input-form pages) – However, since the tab-key not only wants to tab through ALL links on a page, but somehow doesn’t even behave “predictably” after you have pressed [ENTER] in the address-bar (one should think that either a single [TAB] or [ALT-TAB] would bring the cursor back to the address-bar (or where ever it was before you pressed [ENTER]), but alas, it doesn’t (or at least I never seem to get this result).

    Wouldn’t it be quite reasonable to relegate the [TAB]-based link-browsing to the list of optional accesibility-features, and have the normal (or optional) behaviour of the [TAB] key restricted to the most commonly used “locations” (ie. the aforementioned address- and search-bars and/or whatever other input-bars/boxes/fields in the interface, possibly with an option to include form-fields).

    Am I completely wrong in assuming that 99% of (non-disabled) users are rarely, if ever, using the [TAB] key to go through the (typically lots of) links in a page, in order to get to the right one? It’s not like it will make browsing faster than using the mouse (quite the opposite I should think), which is the usual argument for having any kind of “keyboard-shortcut”?!?

    Well, just my 2 cents anyway.

    P.S. If anyone knows of a way to do this, or something to the same effect (preventing the [TAB] key from moving the caret inside a page), such as some obscure about:config setting, an extension or..? Then please post the solution here!

  • great tips and information.. thanks for posting this one!

  • Very interesting. I had never heard of this. I wonder what types/groups of people commonly use this feature. For those who want to skim websites by sliding the page with a mouse, it probably isn’t very useful.

  • Thank you, for this very useful article, it’s very interesting. As for me, FireFox – the best browser…

  • wikifan

    Wow. Rare stuff. I didn’t know about this. Thanks a bunch for sharing it.

  • This mode works well if you want to copy text, else it is really annoying,
    any idea of how to turn this on for firefox on mac?

  • I’ve never actually tried caret browsing, though I keep meaning to try it.

  • It’s the first time for me to hear about it because it’s listed under ‘Accessibility’ in Firefox. This is nice and I wonder if this option is availabe in Opera Browser?

  • I had never heard of this – will try right now.

  • wow this is cool! thanks for sharing!

  • surprised! I never know about this…

    Thanks for sharing .. i must try this!

  • will this same feature be available for the google chrome browser?

  • Wow. This is unheard of stuff. Never knew it was possible. Useful.

  • Great tips and information! Thanks for this!

  • This Caret Browsing suck..
    When I click in free space in web page to make window of IE active. It always move me somewhere to the end of the page..