What are the F1 through F12 keys?

Commonly known as function keys, F1 through F12 may have a variety of different uses or no use at all. Depending on the installed operating system and the software program currently open will change how each of these keys operate. A program is capable of not only using each of the function keys, but also combining the function keys with the ALT or CTRL key, for example, Microsoft Windows users can press ALT + F4 to close the program currently active.

Keyboard function keys

Below is a short-listing of some of the common functions of the functions keys. As mentioned above not all programs support function keys and may perform different tasks then those mentioned below. If you are looking for more specific shortcut keys and function key examples we suggest seeing our shortcut key page.

F1

  • Almost always used as the help key, almost every program opens a help screen when this key is pressed.
  • Enter CMOS Setup.
  • Windows Key + F1 would open the Microsoft Windows help and support center.
  • Open the Task Pane.

F2

  • In Windows renames a highlighted icon, file, or folder in all versions of Windows.
  • Alt + Ctrl + F2 opens document window in Microsoft Word.
  • Ctrl + F2 displays the print preview window in Microsoft Word.
  • Quickly rename a selected file or folder.
  • Enter CMOS Setup.

F3

  • Often opens a search feature for many programs including Microsoft Windows when at the Windows Desktop..
  • In MS-DOS or Windows command line F3 will repeat the last command.
  • Shift + F3 will change the text in Microsoft Word from upper to lower case or a capital letter at the beginning of every word.
  • Windows Key + F3 opens the Advanced find window in Microsoft Outlook.
  • Open Mission Control on an Apple computer running Mac OS X.

F4

  • Open find window in Windows 95 to XP.
  • Open the address bar in Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer.
  • Repeat the last action performed (Word 2000+)
  • Alt + F4 closes the program window currently active in Microsoft Windows.
  • Ctrl + F4 closes the open window within the current active window in Microsoft Windows.

F5

  • In all modern Internet browsers pressing F5 will refresh or reload the page or document window.
  • Open the find, replace, and go to window in Microsoft Word.
  • Starts a slideshow in PowerPoint.

F6

F7

  • Commonly used to spell check and grammar check a document in Microsoft programs such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, etc.
  • Shift + F7 runs a Thesaurus check on the word highlighted.
  • Turns on Caret browsing in Mozilla Firefox.

F8

  • Function key used to enter the Windows startup menu, commonly used to access Windows Safe Mode.

F9

  • Opens the Measurements toolbar in Quark 5.0.
  • With Mac OS 10.3 or later shows all open Windows.
  • Using the Fn key and F9 at the same time opens Mission Control on an Apple computer running Mac OS X.

F10

  • In Microsoft Windows activates the menu bar of an open application.
  • Shift + F10 is the same as right-clicking on a highlighted icon, file, or Internet link.
  • Access the hidden recovery partition on HP and Sony computers.
  • Enter CMOS Setup.
  • With Mac OS 10.3 or later shows all open Windows for active program.

F11

  • Full-screen mode in all modern Internet browsers.
  • Ctrl + F11 as computer is starting to access the hidden recovery partition on many Dell computers.
  • Access the hidden recovery partition on eMachines, Gateway, and Lenovo computers.
  • With Mac OS 10.4 or later hides all open windows and shows the Desktop.

F12

  • Open the Save as window in Microsoft Word.
  • Shift + F12 save the Microsoft Word document.
  • Ctrl + Shift + F12 prints a document in Microsoft Word.
  • Preview a page in Microsoft Expression Web
  • Open Firebug.
  • With an Apple running Mac OS 10.4 or later F12 shows or hides the Dashboard.

F13 - F24

Early IBM computers also had keyboards with F13 through F24 keys. However, because these keyboards are no longer used they are not listed on this page.

Additional information