If you’re a Linux user who has chosen Google Chrome (or Chromium), as your web browser, one of the more annoying bugs is the Spacebar issue when using a Flash application or game. Many Flash apps/games use the Spacebar as a trigger. For instance, in Wide Out, a Flash game found in the ESPN Arcade, you control a wide receiver who is trying to get open to catch a pass. When the ball nears the receiver, the player hits the Spacebar to complete the catch.
In Linux, while using Google Chrome, what happens instead is that hitting the Spacebar triggers the page down, so you miss the catch, and likely can’t see the game anymore. This is a longtime bug, now specific to the Linux version, and from all the bug report logs, there doesn’t seem to be any fix coming anytime soon. However, there is a temporary (although not entirely satisfactory) fix available; it requires a simple extension called Shortcut Manager, that is available from the Chrome Web Store. Let’s go there now.
Once on the page, simply click the blue ADD TO CHROME button to begin the installation process.
You’ll then need to confirm the installation.
Once done, you’ll receive a pop-up confirming that the installation went as planned.
You can now begin using Shortcut Manager to place our “fix” on the Scrollbar problem. To do so, click the new blue icon in the toolbar. This shows us any shortcuts already in place. Since we’re using Shortcut Manager for the first time, click the link at the bottom to create a new shortcut.
A new tab should open, showing the Shortcut Manager interface.
The shortcut we will now create will change the default “page down” behavior to basically do nothing.
The first thing we’ll do is add the Spacebar as our shortcut. So, click your mouse into the Shortcut box and hit the Spacebar.
As you can see, “Space” now appears as our Shortcut key, and below that you can see that the standard behavior in Google Chrome in Linux when that key is hit is “Scroll Down,” but we’ll change that shortly.
Next, we’re going to skip down to the Action section, so we can change what happens when the Spacebar is hit.
Click the pop-up menu, then scroll down until you see Scroll Down as an option. Go ahead and choose that, but in the pixels box below, type 0 (zero). This will force Google Chrome to scroll down zero pixels whenever the Spacebar is hit. This is perfect for games, but not always the desired behavior (especially as hitting the Spacebar to page down is a nice feature when reading articles online). To make sure this behavior only works when we want it to, we’ll need to change the URL patterns, so scroll back up until you reach that section,
You can see from the screenshot above that we’ve already set up two patterns to watch for. First is the ESPN Arcade, second is Teagames.com, a Flash games website also affected by the Spacebar behavior. We’ve set the URL pattern so that only URLs beginning “http://espn.go.com/free-online-games/*” are affected for ESPN.com, so reading standard sports stories (which don’t use the “free-online-games” portion of the URL) will not be affected.
Once we have everything set the way we want, scroll all the way to the top of the page and click the Save button, to ensure our new shortcut is saved.
Now we simply need to return to a page that has been giving us Spacebar problems, and refresh it. We should now be able to use websites the way they intend, and not how Google Chrome wants them to behave. Is this a perfect fix? No, it isn’t.
Until Google makes the change, this will always be a hack, and nothing more. What’s annoying (besides the bug itself), is that it’s been present for so long, and only in the Linux version, and that Firefox – in Linux – doesn’t also show the same behavior. It’s time for a real fix, but until then, this will have to do.