Know Your Keyboard Function Keys: From F1 to F12

function keys on keyboard

If you’re a regular keyboard user, chances are you’ve seen the F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F7, F8, F9, F10, F11, and the ever-elusive (but not always present) F12 keys. They are called function keys, an essential part of any computer keyboard. Yet they remain underutilized by many users. But these keys hold the power to streamline your work, save time, and even increase productivity. From F1 to F12, each key has a unique function and purpose that can make your computing experience smoother and more efficient. Do you know what they are and what they do? Let’s take a look.

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What are the Function Keys on the Keyboard?

Function keys or “F-keys,” are special keys found on a computer keyboard that are used to perform specific tasks. They are labeled as F1 through F12, with some specialized keyboards having up to 24 function keys, labeled F1 through F24. The functionality of these keys differs from program to program, but they usually perform tasks such as opening a new window, saving a document, or refreshing a page.

Function Keys on the Keyboard

These function keys can be used in combination with other keys such as the Shift key or the Control key for additional functions. For example, pressing Shift + F12 will save a Word document and Ctrl + F12 will open the Open dialog box in Word.

Using your keyboard’s function keys can help you work more efficiently and quickly complete tasks. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the different functions of each key so you can make the most of them.

F1:

  • It’s typically used as a “Help” key, so pressing it will often open up a help window or bring you to a support page.
  • Pressing Shift + F1 will open the Microsoft Office Assistant
  • Ctrl + F1 will open the Word Options dialog box in Microsoft Word.
  • In PowerPoint, pressing F1 will provide you with help on the command or control currently selected in the ribbon while pressing Ctrl + F1 will expand/collapse the ribbon.
  • To access Microsoft Windows help pages just press Win Key + F1 and it will open in Edge if installed.
  • You can also enter BIOS settings by pressing F1 during the computer bootup.

F2:

  • F2 is commonly used to rename a selected icon, file, or folder in Microsoft Windows.
  • This key can also be used in some programs to open an advanced search window or to refresh the page.
  • Pressing Shift + F2 in Microsoft Word will allow you to copy text without formatting, while Ctrl + F2 will bring up the print preview dialog box.
  • In PowerPoint and other Microsoft Office packages, you can access the Print Preview menu by pressing Ctrl +F2.
  • Still, in PowerPoint, Alt +F2will open the ‘Save As’ window in an open PowerPoint document.
  • Enter BIOS settings by pressing F2 during computer bootup. You can also access CMOS settings with F2 as well.

F3:

  • The F3 key is commonly used to search for a particular word or phrase in an application. It can also be used to search the Internet and open documents quickly.
  • Pressing Ctrl + F3 in Microsoft Word will allow you to find and replace text within a document.
  • When pressed Win +F3 in Microsoft Outlook it will open the ‘Advanced Search window.
  • Pressing F3 will also open a search bar on browsers and Windows File Explorer.
  • It will repeat the last command entered in MS-DOS or Windows Command Line prompt when pressed F3.
  • In Powerpoint and Word, press Shift +F3 to change the highlighted text accordingly to all caps, lowercase, or sentence case.

F4:

  • The F4 key is commonly used to repeat an action or open a program’s options menu.
  • In Microsoft Windows, pressing the Fn key in combination with F4 may activate special features such as adjusting laptop brightness, volume control, or showing hidden files.
  • Alt + F4 can be used to close the active window.
  • Pressing F4 will open the address bar in the open window.
  • Pressing F4 will close the current page or program.
  • F4 will also repeat the last action in most programs.
  • Alt + F4 opens shut down menu in the desktop environment.
  • Ctrl + F4 closes the currently opened program.

F5:

  • Pressing F5 will refresh the page, desktop, folder contents, or window.
  • Pressing Ctrl +F5 will force a refresh of the open webpage, clearing of cache, and re-download of page content.
  • Shift +F5 starts the slideshow from the currently active page in PowerPoint while pressing F5 starts the slideshow from the first page in PowerPoint.
  • You can also enter default settings when your computer first loads MS-DOS by pressing F5.

F6:

  • The F6 key is often used to move the text cursor to the address bar or other areas of the screen
  • Pressing F6 will highlight the address bar and tabs on the active page of Chrome and most other browsers.
  • F6 respectively selects the Back and Close Tab buttons in Opera. In Edge, pressing F6 twice will prompt you to switch tabs.
  • Pressing F6 twice activates Key Tips in PowerPoint. Pressing it again reactivates the ribbon area and then it helps you navigate key parts of the screen. This applies to all Microsoft Office programs.
  • Pressing Ctrl + Shift + F6 will take you to another open PowerPoint document. This also applies to Microsoft Office programs.

F7:

  • F7 mutes Windows Media Player.
  • Pressing F7 opens the Spell Check tool in PowerPoint and the Editor in other Microsoft Office programs.
  • Alt + Shift + F7 opens a Translator tool in Microsoft Office programs.
  • Shift + F7 opens the Thesaurus Tool in Microsoft Word.
  • F7 toggles the Symbol Browser on and off in Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.
  • Pressing F7 activates the Spell Check and Grammar tools in Google Docs.
  • When you press F7 in the Windows command line, you can view a history of all commands entered in a particular window.

F8:

  • F8 lowers the volume of Windows Media Player.
  • In a macOS workspace, pressing F8 will display thumbnails.
  • Pressing F8 at startup will launch Windows into Safe Mode.
  • Alt+ F8 opens a Macro dialog box in Microsoft Office applications.
  • In addition to the Windows installation CD, some computers use F8 to access the Windows Recovery System.

F9:

  • F9 increases the volume of Windows Media Player.
  • Shift + F9 will toggle the gridlines on and off in PowerPoint.
  • Pressing Alt + F9 will toggle the ‘Rulers’ row on and off in PowerPoint.
  • Alt + Shift + F9 will toggle the ruler on and off in PowerPoint.
  • Ctrl + F9 will input curly brackets into Microsoft Word.
  • HP computers can quickly press F9 during booting up to enter Bios.

F10:

  • Pressing F10 will open/close the ‘Quick Tips’ in Microsoft Office applications (such as Word and PowerPoint).
  • Shift + F10 performs a right-click function in Microsoft Office programs and browsers.
  • Alt + F10 toggles the Selection Tool on and off in Microsoft Office applications (such as PowerPoint and Word).
  • Ctrl + Shift + F10 will side by side launch two open PowerPoint documents in Split view.
  • HP computers can quickly press F10 during booting up to enter the Quick Boot Menu.

F11:

  • Pressing F11 in Chrome and other browsers will enter/exit the fullscreen view.
  • Alt + F11 can launch Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications in Word and PowerPoint, among other Microsoft Office applications.
  • Programmers use Ctrl + F11 or Alt + F11 to compile and execute code.

F12:

  • Pressing the F12 key will open the ‘Save As’ dialog box in Word, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Ctrl + F12 opens the ‘Open’ dialog box in Microsoft Office programs.
  • Ctrl + Shift + F12 launches Print Preview in Microsoft Office programs (such as Word and PowerPoint).
  • F12 opens Chrome Developer Tools, Firebug, and other browser debuggers.
  • Pressing F12 during bootup will display all bootable devices on the computer for you to choose from.

Familiarizing yourself with the function of each F-key can help you work more efficiently and quickly complete tasks.

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