Function keys

Updated: 10/18/2022 by Computer Hope
F1 function key being pressed by a finger

The function keys or F keys are lined across the top of the keyboard and labeled F1 through F12. These keys act as shortcuts, performing certain functions, like saving files, printing data, or refreshing a page.

For example, the F1 key is used as the default help key in many programs. The F5 key is used in an Internet browser to refresh or reload a web page. The function of these keys can differ with each operating system and program.


For information about what each function key does, see: What are the F1 through F12 keys?

Where are the function keys on the keyboard?

Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the function keys (F1 through F12) highlighted in blue.

Keyboard function keys

In the past, Apple Macintosh computers did not have function keys. However, their new keyboards include F1 through F12 or F1 through F19 keys at the top. Some MacBook models have a Touch Bar, which displays digital function keys when holding the Fn key.


Some early IBM computer keyboards had two rows of function keys, with the second row containing F13 - F24. For additional information on function keys, see: What are the F1 through F12 keys?


The function keys should not be confused with the Fn key found on laptops, Apple keyboards, and other keyboards with special functions.

What row are the function keys on?

The function keys are on the function key row, above the number key row, and are the highest row on a keyboard.

How many function keys are on a keyboard?

Today's traditional PC keyboards have 12 function keys, F1 through F12. Some specialized PC keyboards have 24 function keys, F1 through F24.

Many Apple desktop computer keyboards with a number pad have 19 function keys, F1 through F19.

Where are the function keys on a laptop?

Many laptops have a function key row as the top row of keys on the keyboard. However, some smaller laptops have a condensed keyboard due to space restrictions and don't have a function key row. The function keys are usually a secondary function on keys in another row on these smaller laptops.

If your laptop doesn't have a function key row, look for keys with F1 through F12 printed on them as a secondary function. Utilizing the F1-F12 secondary function on those keys requires pressing the Fn key + the key with the corresponding F1-F12 secondary function.

Where are the function keys on a compact keyboard?

Compact keyboards with no function key row use a Mod key to have the number row that also functions as the function keys. For example, a keyboard with this key would press Mod+2 to press F2.

What if my keyboard doesn't have function keys?

If your keyboard does not have the F1-F12 function keys, alternate options may be available for function key related actions or keyboard shortcuts. Sometimes, other keys can produce the same result as function keys. Check program menus or perform an Internet search to see if there are alternate options.


If you have a compact keyboard with a Mod keyboard key, see the above compact keyboard section.

On a Windows computer, the OSK (on-screen keyboard) has function keys that work the same as a physical keyboard. After opening the OSK, using your mouse, click Fn on the OSK to display and use the F1-F12 function keys.

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