Updated: 10/18/2022 by Computer Hope
F12 key

The F12 key is a function key found at the top of almost all computer keyboards. The key is often used to open Firebug, Chrome Developer Tools, or other browser debug tools. As mentioned below, F12 also has other uses depending on the computer and program.

How to use the F12 key

Open the program that uses the key and press F12. If the F12 key also has an icon on the key, it indicates the key has a secondary function. To use the secondary function, press and hold down the Fn key, and while continuing to hold the key, press F12.

If when pressing the F12 key, the secondary function is performed (e.g., mutes audio), the function keys are the secondary function. For example, on an Apple computer, to press F12, hold down fn, and press F12.


If the FnLk (function lock) is enabled, the keyboard acts as if the Fn key is being pressed until it is unlocked.

Information about the secondary function is found in the below secondary function of F12 section.


If the F12 key is not working on the keyboard, see: Some keys on my computer keyboard aren't working.

Where is the F12 key used?

The following list is all the locations where the F12 key can be used with information about its use.

Apple macOS

With an Apple running macOS 10.4 or later, F12 shows or hides the Dashboard.


Access the list of bootable devices on a computer at startup, allowing you to select a different device to boot from (e.g., hard drive, CD or DVD drive, floppy drive, USB drive, and network).

Internet browser

Open Firebug, Chrome Developer Tools, or other browser debug tools.

Microsoft Excel

Save As option in Microsoft Excel.

Microsoft Expression Web

Preview a page in Microsoft Expression Web.

Microsoft Word

  • Open the Save As window in Microsoft Word.
  • Ctrl+F12 opens a document in Word.
  • Shift+F12 saves the Microsoft Word document (like Ctrl+S).
  • Ctrl+Shift+F12 prints a document in Microsoft Word.

Windows Photo Gallery

In the Microsoft Windows Photo Gallery program you can press F12 to start a slide show.

The secondary function of F12

For laptop keyboards and desktop computer keyboards with the Fn key, each function key has two functions. Unfortunately, there's no standard to what each key uses as its secondary function, so every keyboard is different. Below is a list of different keyboards and their secondary function for the F12 key.

Apple keyboard F12 key

The default F12 key primary function on Apple keyboards is to turn down the audio. Pressing fn+F12 for the secondary function is F12.

Cooler Master keyboard F12 key

On Cooler Master desktop keyboards, the F12 secondary function disables and enables the Windows key.

Dell keyboard F12 key

The F12 key secondary function on Dell laptop keyboards is to mute and unmute the volume.

HP keyboard F12 key

On Hewlett-Packard laptop keyboards with an airplane on the F12 key, the secondary F12 function enables and disables airplane mode.

Lenovo ThinkPad F12 key

On the IBM and Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards with a star symbol, the F12 key secondary function opens a user-defined shortcut. The shortcut can be customized through the Lenovo Keyboard Manager.

Logitech keyboard F12 key

On Logitech keyboards with two right arrows pointing to a line, the secondary F12 function fast forwards or goes to the next track in supported media players. Logitech keyboards with "ns" on the key are used as an insert key.

Microsoft Surface F12 key

On the Microsoft Surface laptops, the F12 key secondary function is the PgDn key.

Where is the F12 key on my smartphone or tablet?

Smartphones and tablets don't have keyboards like you'd find on a desktop and laptop and therefore don't have an F12 key.

Below are links to related keyboard shortcuts and individual key pages.

Fn, Function keys, Keyboard, Keyboard terms