We can install additional third-party keyboards to get a delete button. But I wonder why we don't have it out of box?

Is there any research that shows the delete key is less used compared to other keys?

I ask because I use the delete button myself a lot.

  • ohhhhh... there is one on BlackBerry. Only it sucks for browsing and apps. Great for business related stuff. It is very hard to do the things on my Android Samsung that I used to do on BB. Like an iPhone, the Android is good for playing.
    – Kevin C
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 16:13
  • Similar question at SuperUser.SE, the Galaxy Note has it, so do some others - you need to ask why a specific keyboard doesn't have extra keys rather than say "no mobile device has a delete key".
    – Rob
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 16:36
  • 2
    I would like DEL on mobile for same reason I like it on desktop or laptop. When editing on screen... Touching with fingers can easily land the cursor right before or after the letter you are attempting to touch. Would be MOST CONVENIENT to be able to go either direction from the cursor. I mean, I don't believe ANY smartphone would be dumb for having DEL key! If they are SO SMART we should not be having to ask for it on any device, 20+ years in...
    – Tina
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 18:37
  • As a touch-typer, I find it immensely frustrating and infuriating to write anything meaningful on a touchscreen device. Unless it comes with a pencil in which case the handwriting detector, if properly trained, becomes a great tool for short texts, but even then keyboards look set to outlast me. Fortunately. Commented May 19, 2021 at 8:38

8 Answers 8


If I'm understanding the question correctly, we're looking at why there is no Delete key (those above the arrow keys on a traditional physical keyboard) while there is still a Backspace key, I can provide a few reasons based on my own experience and observations:

  • Most errors made typing a message are noticed quite soon thereafter, and are corrected by using the backspace key. For instance, a user types one or two incorrect letters, and hits backspace to remove them
  • If not corrected with the backspace key, autocorrect functions are designed to pick up most of the remaining work. People tend to either allow the correction when needed or use it as a tool itself
  • In the event one does have to go back and delete a word or portion of text, they are usually selecting it by using the touch interface and modifying/deleting (using the backspace key) the section, or maybe continuing to type from that point

I can personally say that in most mobile typing use cases (email, SMS, etc.) the backspace key is sufficient for "undoing" my action. The similarity of the Delete key likely means it isn't as important, as deleting the character in front of the cursor is a more precise/specific action that won't be needed as often.

  • 2
    "they are usually selecting it by using the touch interface" - IMHO, that's precisely a problem with touch interfaces. While I can precisely position the caret using the mouse on a computer and thus rarely use the Del key in that situation, I am often off by one or two characters to either side on a mobile when tapping in the text with my thick fingers, and I regularly happen to place the caret right before the character I wish to delete (requiring a Del key) instead of after it (requiring a backspace key). Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 10:01
  • 1
    @Rob makes a good point now that I'm checking out this question again about at least one mobile keyboard having it. May also be an instance of the delete key simply not making the cut when there is limited space for UI elements on a mobile keyboard. Would appreciate if this answer were marked as accepted for now, but will understand if not given that it's mostly original observation.
    – marley
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 19:31

I sense folks are pretty numb to our desire for a delete button. I personally would use it because I often go back and forth over material before I send. I sometimes have a lot to type and trying to precisely position my cursor in the midst of a large body of text that I am about to send is not very practicable. I usually end up backspacing over the wrong characters then retyping those characters I just accidentally deleted.


Here the argument is "Delete" button is not useful in mobile. Because we already have x button. I have many use cases where you would need "Delete" button instead of x button.

1) Let us say, I have typed in few sentences in my any app. Let's say I want to delete last 2 sentences, out of total 5 sentences. Instead of going to end of the whole content, I would go to the place from which I want to delete those sentences. i.e. I would prefer to go to the end of 3rd statement and press "Delete" and delete the last 2 statements.

2) Let's say I have a big URL which I have copied and pasted in the browser's URL-bar. Now I want only that part of URL which does not need the content after say some "/", in this case I would go to that slash and press "Delete" button and remove the remaining part of the URL. I won't prefer to use 'x' icon to delete from the last content of big URL, because in that case I would need to check, whether the last "/" which I wanted to keep as is, has reached or not.

e.g. current URL is Why don't mobile keyboards have a delete button?

Now I only need the URL upto Questions. I know this is not big URL, but think of it as big url. What would you prefer, if you want URL upto https://ux.stackexchange.com/questions/

What I would prefer, is I don't want content after questions/, so I would go to questions/ and delete all stuff after that using "Delete" button.

---> These are only 2 use cases, there are many, if you think of.


Answer. Because of human fear of change.

The mobile phone keyboard would be better and more user friendly if it had the forward delete button. Can you imagine the conventional computer keyboard without a forward delete button. One example of the disadvantage of the phone keyboard not having a forward delete key is: When trying to place the cursor at the point where you want to delete a letter and you inadvertently end up first placing the cursor before that letter, it usually becomes difficult to move the cursor one letter forward, so you could back space erase. If you had a forward delete key you would not have to deal with that difficulty; which I believe is very common, especially for people with large fingers.

  • "Can you imagine the conventional computer keyboard without a forward delete button." Mac keyboards don't have a forward delete key. There is a Delete key which acts as backspace. Although you can combine it with Fn key (Fn+Delete) to get a forward delete.
    – Ángel
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 23:59
  • Yes exactly. Some idiot decided once that having a delete key would be too much of a luxury for a smarphone user, and there we are, trying to hit the exact spot between letters to be able to edit something.
    – Mauro Lacy
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 15:47
  • The whole smartphone experience has a demeaning aspect to it, in fact. It's not only typing. You must subdue yourself to the use of a smartphone. And, be grateful that you can access such a wonderful piece of technology, of course.
    – Mauro Lacy
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 15:50
  • Lest making the Shift key transform Backspace into Delete be it too much of a luxury for such a simple-minded person as the average smartphone user.
    – Mauro Lacy
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 15:53
  1. Deletion of single character can be achieved by backspace button if you move cursor ahead. As anyways, cursor will always be ahead as we generally don't move cursor within lines (on mobile) as we do on laptop with arrow keys.

  2. Not having delete button saves space

  3. If you want to delete entire word/sentence, then after selecting word/sentence you anyways get floating menu saying Cut|Copy etc.

  • 1
    "as we generally don't move cursor within lines (on mobile)" - this seems like quite a far-fetched assumption. What do users do if they discover a typo somewhere in one of the lines they have just written? Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 10:03
  • They long press that word to correct it Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 12:25
  • Also if we try placing cursor right between two characters in a word with finger tip, its difficult. Thus, long press to select complete word seems feasible. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 13:20
  • Yes, I've often stumbled over that problem. I frequently need repeated taps because I accidentally select the whole word instead of just placing the caret to correct a single character. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 13:27

Autocorrect often wrongcorrect! It leaves the writer with no originality. Often unseen texts are sent and you need to apologize for it. If you recognise an error after you typed a few words after it, good luck getting the cursor in the right spot to correct it using back space when you can immediately delete it. For those who are perfect typists you can ignore the extra button. For us mortals we can’t find it if it didn’t exist!


Why cant we have delete on mobile keyboard ?

  • what do you really want to delete, unlike with the PC keyboard isn't always open on the screen. Example: how do you delete photos when the keyboard cannot be opened while browsing photos?

The keyboard opens only when the user is in any texting/messaging app while there is a need for an input.

Delete on keyboard will not make sense because it isn't usable.

We have gestures for making deleting easy on a mobile phone anyways.

And can you please explain your case of using delete from the keyboard on mobile?

  • By your argument, why to have backspace? When your at the start of a text or at the middle and you don't want to select the entire word. Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 19:30
  • Because you use backspace to delete text already, and don't need a dedicated DEL key just to delete in the other direction. My guess as to why they didn't include both is to save space, but you have to at least have backspace available. Also, it's not just phones, my laptop doesn't have a dedicated DEL key and you have to use Shift + Backspace to have the same functionnality.
    – Drown
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 22:42
  • 1
    -1 Delete can be used to backspace text backwards. It has other functionalities on a mobile phone, as well... Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 12:41

We are used to using the delete key on a traditional keyboards. So we can debate our detailed thoughts all we what (but we could just test the idea) or just give the customer what they want.

  • 1
    I don't see how this answers the question.
    – Mayo
    Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 12:44

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.