Backspace key

Updated: 10/30/2017 by Computer Hope

Computer Backspace keysThe Backspace key or Back space key is a keyboard key that deletes any character before the cursor's current position or the left.

Note: The backspace key is sometimes referred to as the rubout key, which is reference to a "rubout" key found on early terminal and computer keyboards. The rubout key performed the same function as today's backspace key.

Where is the Backspace key?

As seen in the picture to the right, the Backspace key always has an arrow that points to the left and is in the top-right portion of the keyboard. On Apple computers, the Backspace key is called 'delete' but performs the same function as the Backspace.

Note: All keyboards having a Backspace key only have one Backspace key.

Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the Backspace key highlighted in blue.

Backspace key

Note: As mentioned earlier, an Apple keyboard does not have a Backspace key. Instead, the key is called "delete" on Apple keyboards.

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

With a PC keyboard that has a Backspace, when you press the Backspace key, it removes text to the left of the cursor. If you need to delete text to the right of the cursor, press the Delete key.

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

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

The Backspace key really only has one function and that is to delete text to the left of the cursor. In some Internet browsers, you can also press the Backspace key to go back to the previous page. However, most browsers today use the shortcut key Alt+Back arrow to go back to the previous page.

Tip: Like all other keys, the Backspace key can be combined with other modifier keys to create keyboard shortcuts.

Practice using the Backspace key

For example, click the mouse button at the end of "deleted" in the text box below and press the Backspace key to practice using the key.

Tip: Press and hold down Ctrl and press Backspace to delete one full word at a time, instead of deleting one character at a time.

Tip: If you want to delete text in the middle of a sentence, click after the text you want to delete and press the Backspace key until the text is deleted. For example, in the sentence above, you could click after "example" and press the Backspace key until that word is deleted.

Back, Clear, Delete, Keyboard terms