Tech Tip 16 - Function Keys

Published: 9/26/2012 8:06 AM

​The function keys on a keyboard are often overlooked by most users, including some of the most technical savvy users.


The function keys are the top row of keys that begins with the key F1. These keys are programmed to execute specific functions in the Windows operating system and when working in specific applications.  They are also often used with ALT, CTRL and the SHIFT key to perform more than one function. If you are using a program and wonder if the function keys are programmed to execute a specific action, you can usually reference the program's help page under function keys.  While you can easily operate a computer without using the function keys, they can save you time when working in applications.  Here’s a quick list of what each key does. 
F1 – This is the help key. If you press this when you are on the windows desk top, in a windows application, or in most any other application, the associated help menu will appear.
F2 – You can use F2 to rename a folder or file. Whether you’re navigating through files and folders or you’d just like to rename a file on your desktop, highlight the folder or file you wish to rename and press F2.
F3 – This is the find files button. You can use this anytime when working in Windows. You can also use the F3 key in Microsoft Word to change the case form of letters you are using from all capital to lowercase. To do this, first highlight the letters you want to change and then press F3 and the Shift key.
F4 – F4 will open the address bar in Internet Explorer. You can also use F4 and the ALT key to close any web page.
F5 – This key will refresh the page for you in the Internet Explorer.  In Microsoft Word, this key will open the Find and Replace window. 
F6 – You can use this key to cycle through screen elements in a window or on a desktop.
F7 – This key does not have any function in Internet Explorer. However, it does in some other programs. For example, you can use the F7 key to launch spell checker when using Microsoft Office applications.
F8 – You can enter your computer's safe mode by pressing F8 during the booting process. 
F9 – This key is like F7 in that it does not have any function in the Windows operating system. Again, like F7, it may have a function in other programs.
F10 – This key will bring up the menu in most programs. If you press the SHIFT key at the same time as F10 you can usually bring up a short cut menu.
F11 – When you are working in Internet Explorer, you can press the F11 key and view any page at full view causing all toolbars to disappear. This is useful for pages that contain a lot of information. When you press F11 again, the toolbars will reappear.
F12 – Like F7 and F9, F12 does not have any real function in the Windows XP operating system.  However, F12 does open the Save As menu in Microsoft Office Suite applications.  
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Published 3/10/2010