Do Function Keys Function?

Maribeth WardTech Tips0 Comments

On most computer keyboards there is a row of keys that most people ignore.  They are called Function Keys or “shortcut” keys.  I admit I only use a few of these like F1 which is the help key or F7 which is spell check in Microsoft Windows. I don’t usually even think much about the other keys and their functions.

Some of these keys really are great shortcuts and everyone should make themselves familiar with all functions of their keyboard.  Easier said than done, right?  Hopefully, the information below will help you understand your keyboard a little bit better.

PC’s have Function keys that are usually pretty standard on all keyboards.  This is an outcome of the old IBM days when function keys were first used.  Some keys have uses assigned by an operating system, with the most common one being Windows.

A function key may be assigned a second use when it is pressed in combination with the shift key, ALT key or Control Key. Function keys are also sometimes referred to as hot keys.

Below is a description of the most common Function Keys for Windows users:

F1 –  Opens the help screen for most programs

F2 –  Allows you to rename a selected file or folder

F3 – Opens a search feature for an application that is active at the moment

F4 – Alt + F4 closes the active window

F5 – Allows you to refresh or reload the page or document window

F6 – Moves the cursor to the address bar in most internet browsers

F7 – Used to spell check and grammar check a document in Microsoft applications such as Microsoft Word

F8 – Used to access the boot menu in Windows when turning on the computer

F9 – Refreshes a document in Microsoft Word and sends and receives emails in Microsoft Outlook

F10 – Activates the menu bar of an application.  Shift +F10 is the same as right clicking

F11 – Enters and exits fullscreen mode in internet browsers

F12 – Opens the Save As dialog box in Microsoft Word

If you are an Apple user you may have these keys but they mean something very different from the PC functions.  In fact, in Apple’s latest round of removal of traditional features on computers, they eradicated conventional Function Keys and replaced them with a Retina, multi-touch Bar. This bar is developer customizable and displays menus and other features which can include a Function Key lineup but usually don’t.

Below is list of what the Function Keys are on a Mac (without a Retina bar):

F1 – decreases brightness

F2- increases brightness

F3 – shows all windows

F4 – shows the dashboard

F5 – decreases brightness of backlit keyboard

F6 – increases brightness of backlit keyboard

F7 – rewinds or goes to a previous track in music

F8 – plays or pauses music

F9 – fast forwards or plays next track in music

F10 – mutes speakers

F11- decreases volume

F12 – increases volume

Holding down the “fn” button with one of the Function Keys can cause the key to act like the keys on a PC. This usually varies from Apple to Apple.

If you prefer to have your Function Keys to always behave as standard function keys without holding the fn key you can do the following:

Choose System Preferences on the Apple menu

Click keyboard

Click the keyboard tab if it’s not already highlighted

Select “Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys”

It’s always smart to become familiar with all the functions of your keyboard.  Knowing what buttons to push and why can save you a lot of headaches.  If you need help figuring out your keyboard functions call WynWay, we can help.

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