Updated: 10/18/2022 by Computer Hope
F3 key

The F3 key is a function key found at the top of almost all computer keyboards. The key opens the find or search feature of a program or operating system. As mentioned below, F3 also has other uses depending on the computer and program.

How to use the F3 key

Open the program that uses the key and press F3. If the F3 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 F3.

If when pressing the F3 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 F3, hold down fn, and press F3.


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 the F3 section.


If the F3 key is not working on the keyboard, see: Some keys on my computer keyboard aren't working.

Where is the F3 key used?

The following list is all the locations where the F3 key can be used with information about its use.

Apple macOS X

The F3 on an Apple keyboard opens Mission Control on an Apple computer running the macOS X operating system.

Microsoft Excel

After a name is created, F3 pastes names.

Windows Explorer

In Windows Explorer, starts the search function.

Microsoft Outlook

Windows key+F3 opens the Advanced find window in Microsoft Outlook.

Microsoft Word

In Microsoft Word, Ctrl+F3 lowercases any highlighted text.

Shift+F3 changes the text in Microsoft Word from upper to lowercase or a capital letter at the beginning of every word.

Microsoft Windows

With Microsoft Windows 7 and earlier, pressing F3 on the Windows desktop opens a window to find files.


The F3 button no longer does anything in Windows 10 on the desktop.

Windows command line

In MS-DOS or Windows command line, F3 repeats the last command entered.

Other F3 uses

  • In programs not mentioned above, F3 opens a search or find and sometimes finds the next search value.

The secondary function of the F3

Each function key has two functions for a laptop and desktop computer keyboard with the Fn key. Unfortunately, there's no standard to what each key uses as its secondary function, so every keyboard is different. Below are keyboards and their secondary function for the F3 key.

Apple keyboard F3 key

The default fn key primary function on Apple keyboards opens Mission Control on an Apple computer running the macOS X operating system. Pressing fn+F3 for the secondary function is F3.

Cooler Master keyboard F3 key

On Cooler Master desktop keyboards, the F3 secondary function is one of the following options depending on the model.

  • With single-color keyboard backlight keyboards, FN+F3 increases the backlight brightness.
  • With multiple backlight colors (RGB) keyboard, FN+F3 adjusts the green color levels.

Dell keyboard F3 key

The F3 key secondary function on Dell laptop keyboards is to mute and unmute the volume.

HP (Hewlett-Packard) keyboard F3 key

On Hewlett-Packard laptop keyboards with a brightness or sun icon on the F3 key, the secondary F3 function is to increase the screen brightness.

Lenovo ThinkPad F3 key

On the IBM and Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards with a speaker icon next to a plus, the F3 key secondary function is to turn up the volume.

Logitech keyboard F3 key

On Logitech keyboards with an arrow pointing to the left on the key, the F3 key secondary function goes back into an Internet browser.

Microsoft Surface F3 key

On the Microsoft Surface laptops, the F3 key secondary function plays and pauses audio in supported programs (e.g., Windows Media Player).

Where is the F3 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 F3 key.

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

Fn, Function keys, Keyboard, Keyboard terms