Updated: 08/02/2020 by Computer Hope
Some keyboard types: 101-key with Nepali, RGB, Apple Magic, Left-handed one-hand, Kinesis Freestyle Ergonomic, on-screen.

A computer keyboard is one of the primary input devices used with a computer. Similar to an electric typewriter, a keyboard is composed of buttons that create letters, numbers, and symbols, as well as other functions. The following sections provide more in-depth information and answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about the keyboard.

Keyboard overview

The following image shows a 104-key Saitek keyboard with arrows pointing to each section, including the control keys, function keys, LED indicators, wrist pad, arrow keys, and keypad.

Computer keyboard overview

QWERTY keyboard layout

Below is a close up image of a QWERTY computer keyboard with each of the keys selectable. You may hover your mouse cursor over any of the keys to see a description. Clicking any of the keys opens a new page with full details.

Keyboard keys Escape (Esc) Key Function Keys Print Screen (Prt Scrn) Key Scroll Lock Key Pause and Break Key Tilde and Back Quote Key 1 and Exclamation Key 2 and At Key 3 and Hash Key 4 and Dollar Sign Key 5 and Percent Key 6 and Caret Key 7 and Ampersand Key 8 and Asterisk Key 9 and Open Parenthesis Key 0 and Close Parenthesis Key Dash and Underscore Key Equals and Plus Key Backspace Key Insert (Ins) Key Home Key Page Up (Pg Up) Key Num Lock Key Divide Key Times Key Subtract Key Tab Key Top Row Keys Open Bracket and Open Brace Close Bracket and Close Brace Enter or Return Key Delete (Del) Key End Key Page Down (Pg Dn) Key Numeric Keypad Plus Key Caps Lock Keys Home Row Keys Semicolon Key and Colon Key Single Quote Key and Quote Key Backslash Key and Pipe Key Left Shift Key Bottom Row Keys Comma Key and Less Than Key Period Key and Greater Than Key Forward Slash Key and Question Mark Key Right Shift Key Arrow Keys Enter Key Left Ctrl Key Left Windows Key Left Alt Key Spacebar Right Alt Key Right Windows Key Menu Key Right Ctrl Key Period key Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, and Num Lock LED lights

Keyboard ports and interfaces

USB cable and port

Today, most desktop computer keyboards connect to the computer using either USB or Bluetooth for wireless communication. Before USB, a computer may have used PS/2, serial port, or AT (Din5) as a keyboard interface.

Types of keyboards

Today, most keyboards are similar to each other, but may be missing one or more of the sections mentioned earlier (e.g., the keypad). Where keyboards begin to differ the most is with their constructions. Some keyboards are mechanical, while others use membrane keys. Some keyboards are split down the middle and others even fold in half or roll up. While most keyboards use the QWERTY layout, there are still people who use the DVORAK layout.

Laptop keyboards

A laptop keyboard is arranged differently than a desktop keyboard to accommodate the laptop's narrower footprint. Most laptop keyboards are made smaller by placing the keys closer and by including an Fn key. The Fn key is used in conjunction with other keys to perform special functions. For example, pressing the Fn key and the up or down arrow on the keyboard shown below, increases and decreases the screen brightness. Furthermore, many laptop keyboards omit the numeric keypad to save space.

Laptop Fn function keyboard key

Smartphone and tablet keyboards

Apple iPhone keyboard

Today's smartphones and tablets do not come with a physical keyboard, although it may be purchased as an optional peripheral add-on. These devices utilize a thumb keyboard or on-screen keyboard to type messages and enter text into various fields. The image is an example of the Apple iPhone on-screen keyboard, used on all Apple touch-based devices.

Why is the keyboard an input device?

A computer keyboard is considered an input device because it only sends data to a computer and does not receive any information back.

What are multimedia keys?

Multimedia keys are those keys which allow the user to control music on their computer keyboard. These keys add functionality such as play, pause, stop, rewind, fast forward, skip track, eject, shuffle, and repeat.

AFK, Alt, Ctrl, Delete, Enter, Hardware terms, Home row keys, Keyboard terms, Natural keyboard, Numeric keypad, OSK, Shift, Spacebar, Tab, Typewriter, Virtual keyboard, Windows key