One of the best ways of getting started developing open source software is to “scratch your own itch”: when you have a problem, get coding and solve it. So it is with this little bit of code.

Scroll Back is a very simple Chrome extension that replicates a little-known feature of Firefox: if you hold down the Shift key and use the mouse wheel, you can go forward and backward in your browser history. The idea came from issue 927 on the Chromium bug tracker, which is a request for this very feature.

You can install the extension from the Chrome Web Store if you use Chrome (or Chromium).

The code is so simple I can reproduce it here in full:

document.addEventListener("wheel", function(e) {
  if (e.shiftKey && e.deltaX != 0) {
    return e.preventDefault();
  • Line 1 adds an event listener which is executed every time the user uses the scroll wheel.
  • If the Shift key is held down and the user has scrolled (line 2), line 3 goes backward or forward in the history according to whether the user scrolled down or up respectively (e.deltaX is positive for down, negative for up)
  • Line 4 prevents any unwanted side-effects of scrolling.

The code is automatically executed every time a page is loaded, so has the effect of enabling this behaviour in all pages.

It’s open source (licensed under the MIT License), so you can check out the full source code on github.