While I was reading today’s Nielsen Norman Group’s article on back-to-top links design guidelines, it confirmed something I noticed when I recently conducted usability testing.
When usability testing participants were asked to return to the top of the page, the majority weren’t aware of the browser and operating system built-in options to get back to the top of the page.
While some websites have added links or images at the bottom of long pages to make it easier to people to go back to the top, it’s not something you see on all websites.
Options Participants Used to Go Back to Top
When participants followed the instructions to return to the top of the web page, they either:
- Selected the vertical scrollbar on the side of the browser with their mouse and dragged it upwards
- Positioned the cursor on the vertical scrollbar on the touchpad to drag it towards the top
- Swiped upwards multiple times on their mobile devices to navigate to the top
I noticed signs of frustration on their faces for long pages, especially for participants using a touchpad or mobile device.
How to Get Back to the Top of a Web Page
Depending on your operating system, browser, or device, you’ll find different keys and shortcuts to take you back to the top of the page.
When I bought my new Chromebook a few years ago, it took me a while to figure out how to navigate a page with the various shortcuts, but I eventually learned how to go back to the webpage top.
Here’s a guide for several operating systems, browsers, apps, and devices to get you back to the top of a webpage quickly.
If your keyboard has a designated Home key, you’re in luck!
Select the Home key and you’ll return to the top of the page (unless you’re on a Mac or screen reader, read on).
On the Mac, use the Command (CMD) + Up arrow to jump to the top.
In older versions of Mac operating systems (pre-Mac OS X Lion), you could swipe up on the trackpad with three fingers to get back to the top of the page.
Unfortunately, I don’t know options you can use with the trackpad on more current version of the Mac operating system. If you do, please share your suggestion in the comments.
Chromebooks don’t have a Home key; that was one of the hardest things for me to get used to when I had my first Chromebook (I’m on my second).
The combination of the Search key + the left arrow key will return you to the top of the page.
Safari on iOS
Tap the clock at the top center of the iPhone or iPod touch screen twice to go back to the top.
JAWS and NVDA Screen Readers
Both screen readers follow similar methods as word processors. Use the combination of CTRL + Home keys to return to the top of the page. (Hat tip to my friend Al Puzzuoli for confirmation)
Select the News Feed button to go back to the top of your feed.
Depending on what you’re reading, select the Home, Mention, or Direct Message icons to return to the top of that Twitter feed.
Despite reading dozens of articles, I couldn’t find an option in Android (without rooting the device) to go back to the top of the page.
You’ll find some apps, like Facebook and Twitter, who have built-in the functionality to return to top.
It’s possible I missed some option and I would love to be proven wrong.
If you know how to go back to the top of a page on an Android device, let me know in the comments.
Instead of the hassle of dragging the cursor up the screen with your mouse or touchpad multiple time, try one of the other options I shared to quickly return to the top of your page.
And if you know of other apps, operating systems, or browsers with built-in back-to-top functionality, share your tips in the comments.