What is the difference between the del and Backspace keys?

Updated: 03/01/2018 by Computer Hope

Both the Del or Delete key and Backspace key are used to delete text. However, when dealing with text, pressing the Del key deletes text to the right of the cursor and pressing the Backspace key deletes text to the left (backwards) of the cursor. For example, if you were to click and make the cursor at the end of the example text below and press delete, nothing will happen because there is no text to the right. However, if you press the Backspace key, the end of the text would begin to be deleted.


On Apple Macintosh computers using an Apple keyboard, the delete key is in the same location as the Backspace key on PC keyboards. Although the key is labeled as the "delete" key, it still functions the same as the "Backspace" key. In other words, with Apple keyboards, there is no Backspace key, only a delete key that deletes text to the left of the cursor. If you wanted to delete text to the right like a delete key on a PC, press the Fn+Delete keys to delete text to the right.

Practice area

The del and Backspace keys also have other differences. For example, only the del or delete key is capable of deleting icons, files, and folders. Pressing Backspace when a file or other object is highlighted does nothing.

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