Updated: 10/18/2022 by Computer Hope
F8 key

The F8 key is a function key found at the top of almost all computer keyboards. The key opens Safe Mode in Windows. As mentioned below, F8 also has other uses depending on the computer and program.

How to use the F8 key

Open the program that uses the key and press F8. If the F8 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 F8.

If when pressing the F8 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 F8, hold down fn, and press F8.


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 F8 section.


If the F8 key is not working on the keyboard, see: Some keys on my computer keyboard aren't working.

Where is the F8 key used?

The following list is all the locations where the F8 key can be used with information about its use.

Microsoft Excel

Enters Extend Mode in Microsoft Excel, which makes highlighting multiple cells easier.

Microsoft Windows

Function key used to enter the Windows startup menu, commonly used to access Windows Safe Mode. Some earlier computers may use this key at boot to access the Windows recovery system with the Windows installation CD (compact disc).

Apple macOS

Displays a thumbnail image for all workspaces in macOS.


Pressing the F8 opens the Replace window in TextPad.

Dell computer

Pressing F8 while a Dell computer boots accesses the Dell computers' DSR (Dell System Restore).

The secondary function of the F8

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 F8 key.

Apple keyboard F8 key

The default F8 function on Apple keyboards is to play and pause in media players. Pressing fn+F8 for the secondary function is F8.

Cooler Master keyboard F8 key

On Cooler Master desktop keyboards, the F8 secondary function is one of the following options depending on the model.

Dell keyboard F8 key

The F8 secondary function on Dell laptop keyboards is to mute and unmute the volume.

HP (Hewlett-Packard) keyboard F8 key

On Hewlett-Packard laptop keyboards with a screen or box symbol on the F8, the secondary F8 function turns up the audio.

Lenovo ThinkPad F8 key

On the IBM and Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards with a line through an antenna, the F8 secondary function is to turn airplane mode on and off.

Logitech keyboard F8 key

On Logitech keyboards with a "G" in a circle on the key, the F8 toggles the Game mode, which turns off the Windows key.


Advanced Game mode settings are also available in the Logitech Gaming Software.

Logitech keyboards with two arrows pointing to the right fast forward or go to the next track in supported media players.

Microsoft Surface F8 key

On the Microsoft Surface laptops, the F8 secondary function is the PrtScrn button.

Where is the F8 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 F8 key.

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

Fn, Function keys, Keyboard, Keyboard terms