Backspace key

Updated: 11/18/2022 by Computer Hope
Computer Backspace keys

The Backspace key or Back space key is a keyboard key that deletes any character, including letters and numbers, before the cursor's current position.


The Backspace key is sometimes called the rubout key. The rubout key was on early terminal and computer keyboards; it performed the same function as today's backspace key.

Where is the Backspace key?

As seen below, the Backspace key is located in the top-right portion of the keyboard's character keys section. On Apple computers, there's a "delete" key instead of Backspace, but it performs the same function.


All keyboards that utilize the Backspace key only have one.

Backspace key on a Windows-based keyboard

Backspace key

Delete (Backspace) key on an Apple keyboard

Delete key on an Apple keyboard.

Where is the backspace on a smartphone and tablet?

Backspace icon used on the backspace keyboard key.

On an Android and Apple iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet, there are no keys labeled as "backspace," but there's a key that functions the same way. Look for a key resembling an arrow pointing to the left or an arrow with an "X," as shown in the picture.

Does Backspace remove text to the left or right of the cursor?

When you press the Backspace (Windows) or delete key (macOS), it removes text to the left of the cursor. If you need to remove text to the right of the cursor, press the Delete key.


The arrow pointing to the left helps you remember the direction of the Backspace key.

Apple delete key.

Apple keyboards have two delete keys. The one that functions the same as its Windows counterpart is in the navigation keys section next to the main character keys section (shown right).

How is the Backspace key used, and what is its function?

The Backspace key has one function: delete text to the left of the cursor. In some Internet browsers, you can press the Backspace key to go back to the previous page. However, most browsers today use the shortcut combination Alt+ instead.

Practice using the Backspace key

The following text box lets you practice using the Backspace key. Click the mouse button at the end of "deleted" and press the Backspace key to erase the characters to the left of the cursor.


Like all other keys, Backspace can be combined with other modifier keys to create keyboard shortcuts. For example, you can press and hold Ctrl, and then press Backspace to delete one word, instead of one character.


To delete text in the middle of a sentence, click to place your text cursor immediately after the text you want to delete. Then, press Backspace until the text is erased. For example, in the sentence above, you could click after the word "example" and press the Backspace key until it is deleted.

What happens if you hold down the backspace key?

Holding down the backspace key deletes text until there's no more text to the left or above the cursor, or you let go of the key.


People often hold down the backspace key to delete a lot of text. However, it's faster to select text and then press the delete key once. For further information about selecting text, see: How to highlight or select text.

How many backspace keys are there?

On PC keyboards and Chromebooks, there's one backspace key. On an Apple keyboard, there are no backspace keys.

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