The <Backspace> key (on most keyboards) generates ASCII code 8. C-h sends the same code. In Emacs by default C-h invokes help-command. This is intended to be easy to remember since the first letter of ‘help’ is ‘h’. The easiest solution to this problem is to use C-h (and <Backspace>) for help and <DEL> (the <Delete> key) for deleting the previous character.
For many people this solution may be problematic:
stty erase `^?'
normal-erase-is-backspace-mode, or by invoking M-x normal-erase-is-backspace. See the documentation of these symbols (see Emacs Lisp documentation) for more info.
(keyboard-translate ?\C-h ?\C-?)
This is the recommended method of forcing <Backspace> to act as
<DEL>, because it works even in modes which bind <DEL> to
something other than
Similarly, you could remap <DEL> to act as C-d, which by default deletes forward:
(keyboard-translate ?\C-? ?\C-d)
See Swapping keys, for further details about
(global-set-key "\C-h" 'delete-backward-char) ;; overrides mark-whole-buffer (global-set-key "\C-xh" 'help-command)
This method is not recommended, though: it only solves the problem for
those modes which bind <DEL> to
which bind <DEL> to something else, such as
not work as you expect when you press the <Backspace> key. For this
reason, we recommend the
keyboard-translate method, shown
Other popular key bindings for help are M-? and C-x ?.
Don't try to bind <DEL> to
help-command, because there are
many modes that have local bindings of <DEL> that will interfere.
When Emacs 21 or later runs on a windowed display, it binds the <Delete> key to a command which deletes the character at point, to make Emacs more consistent with keyboard operation on these systems.
For more information about troubleshooting this problem, see If <DEL> Fails to Delete.