Keyboard Shortcuts broken in Firefox 2

In Firefox2 my shortcut keys stopped working. This fact is very frustrating because I make and use keyboard shortcuts for navigating and jumping quickly with “double key-press” such as “alt+m” = messages “alt+h” = “home” “alt+s” = sales “alt+r” = refresh etc.

alt+shortcut-key

It is easy very easy and simple to make these shortcuts when developing web pages because HTML supports shortcuts through the “accesskey=” directive for links and other interface elements.

The way “accesskey=” is done for links is to create the link using the standard opening and then add the

accesskey="x"

within the element’s definition. So the definition of a link becomes <a~accesskey=”o” href=”linkname”>

In searching for a solution to my suddenly broken keyboard shortcuts mystery, my no longer functioning accesskeys. I noticed there were new features in Firefox2 (FF2) and Internet Explorer7 (IE7) for accessing the respective browser’s menu items. Suddenly the realization hit me, Oh duh – that’s it!, the accesskeys in these version of these browsers are now accessing the browser menus. What should be parsed to access page features is now parsed by the browser for internal browser use, rather than being passed to the webpage for website user access.

I understand the browser developers wanting to make life good for the browser feature access but what about us website developers and users? We do not want Firefox nor Internet Explorer to get in our way when we are browsing.
I want my browser to be as invisible as possible and I wish to have my browsing keyboard take me to my shortcuts immediately without a fight. In fact I typically make my browser”hidden” by going full screen and I do not want to see menus or anything when browsing.
The way accesskeys works is explained by w3.org

<a accesskey="x" accesskey = character [CN]

Which states ‘Pressing an accesskey 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. When a user activates a radio button, the user agent changes the value of the radio button. When the user activates a text field, it allows input, etc.’

The accesskey attribute works with: A, AREA, BUTTON, INPUT, LABEL, LEDGEND and TEXTAREA elements.

So what is the solution, the work around? I could not find a solution or fix documented anywhere. I tried some alternatives keypress keyboard sequences to access my accesskeys. In trying different things I learned that Firefox2 “accesskeys” can be accessed by pressing a “modifier” such as

 ctl

or

 alt

or

 option

on an Apple Mac.

With the modifier key press I found that my individual accesskey= can be accessed by pressing the ctrl+alt+m ctrl+alt+h atrl+alt+s etc/ So the “accesskey + modifier + letter” or alt+control+[CH]. So that

accesskey="m"

is accessed by

ctrl+alt+m

when previously

alt+M

did the job.

While this is not big deal it is frustrating and starts to break some of my windows modifiers such as ctl+alt+p for “print” and ctl+alt+m for “outlook email” etc.

It amazed me that I did not find this suggestion on any website anywhere.

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