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Accesskey - browser implementation



12:01 pm on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Pressing an access key assigned to an element gives focus to the element. The action that occurs when an element receives focus depends on the element. For example, when a user activates a link defined by the A element, the user agent generally follows the link. -- W3C

In Safari(Mac) pressing Ctrl+Accesskey causes the browser to follow the link. In MSIE5(Win) it only gives focus to the anchor. Can anyone tell me what happens in MSIE6 or other Win browsers?

FYI - here are the results for the major Mac browsers:

Camino(Mac) - no affect
Firefox(Mac) - follows link
MSIE(Mac) - follows link
Mozilla(Mac) - follows link
Netscape(Mac) - follows link
Opera(Mac) - not sure what it's doing

TIA ;)


12:17 pm on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

IE6 just sets focus to the link. It does not traverse it.


12:51 pm on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Bugger! I'm trying to think of a work-around using onFocus() but that would probably incur penalties from search engines (not that the link goes anywhere - just to a login prompt).


1:08 pm on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is just a SWAG, but would it be possible to capture the key-stroke combo instead of using accesskey?


8:01 pm on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The accesskey is supposed to "activate" the element. For a link, I interpret that to mean follow. If it was just to highlight, you'd use tab instead.

It looks like IE-Win gets it wrong with links. However, IE-Win does activate Buttons when you press the accesskey, so it's a little inconsistent.

I believe Mozilla, Amaya, Opera, iCab, Omniweb and Konq all follow the link as expected. That's the key: user expectation. I don't have to press Enter after I click a link with my mouse, because that's not what I expect to happen.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with a Javascript hack. It assumes too much about the user. You can't go changing all your pages just in case somebody is using IE, especially if it's to the detrement of everybody else. If the user has a browser that actually ignores standards (and the customs), they'll just have to put up with the hassle.


4:25 pm on Sep 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've just noticed that the W3C use accesskeys for the radiobuttons on their HTML validator. And as expected, all browsers immediately check the box (rather than gove focus). So how come IE gets it right for this, but wrong for links?

Anyway, isn't it about time this forum started with accesskeys? We talk about them every so often, but how about actually using them as a working example? Even mass-market ones like vbulletin have accesskeys (S to submit, 1 for home, 4 for search, etc, as is now the standard)


3:29 pm on Sep 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

with accesskeys it is important to note that they can damage user expectation. Because accesskeys overide keyboard shortcuts for the browser and the screenreader they can make your website much more frustrating to the people you're trying to help.

check out dive into mark's accessibility statement for good access key assignments:
[diveintomark.org ]


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