Function Keys

Function Keys

Many of my customers ask me “what is the use of Function keys on my keyboard?” Or “what do the F1 through F12 keys do?” It’s true, these keys sit at the top your keyboard but you may have hardly used them. Yet Function Keys can help you use shortcuts and special functions and although they have default primary and secondary features, they are also capable of performing many other functions when used in combination with keys like Ctrl and Alt.

On many keyboards, each of these keys will have additional functions like multimedia, sleep/wake etc. However, in this article we will talk about how to use them across browsers and MS Office.

Almost every program comes with a help menu and pressing F1 while on the program will bring up this Help menu. Pressing F1 with the Windows key brings up Windows Help and Support.
Also: SHIFT + F1 reveals the formatting within a Word document; CTRL + ALT + F1 displays your PC’s Microsoft system information.

F2 is considered an edit key. To rename a file in File Explorer, select the file name you want to edit, press F2 and type the new name. Alt + Ctrl + F2 opens the Documents Library within the MS Office suite.
Also: SHIFT + F2 to copy text; CTRL + F2 to choose the print preview command; CTRL + ALT + F2 to choose the open command (file menu).

In File Explorer press F3 to search for specific files and folders. Pressing F3 in almost all browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox Mozilla and Microsoft Edge allows you to search by launching the Find bar. Shift + F3 toggles between lower case and upper case for selected text in Word.

F4 is known as the great escape key. Pressing Alt + F4 immediately closes the current program without saving it. Good for an emergency as it can be used to close browser windows you don’t want others to see! In Microsoft Edge, F4 takes the cursor to the address bar.

To refresh the active window in most common browsers, press F5. Use it on PowerPoint to start a slide show or to open the Find, Replace, Go to dialog on MS Office programs.

F6 can be used like the Tab key on Windows desktop to toggle from the desktop files to the taskbar and the system tray icons. It can also be used to bring the focus to the address bar on most browsers. In Microsoft Office programs, it toggles between the menu items and workspace.

The F7 key is commonly used to spell check and grammar check a document in Microsoft programs such as Word, Outlook, etc. Shift+F7 runs a Thesaurus check on the highlighted word. Within Mozilla Firefox, pressing F7 enables “Caret browsing” – this is a feature which allows you to navigate a page just like a document in MS Word or any other word processing application. You can move the cursor between lines using arrow keys and can select the text or click on any link using your keyboard.

Within Microsoft Word, press F8 to select a word within the text. Keep pressing F8 to extend the selection, also using the arrow keys. SHIFT + F8 shrinks the selection. ALT + F8 opens the Macro dialogue box.

Pressing F9 refreshes a document in Microsoft Word. You can also use it to send and receive e-mail in Microsoft Outlook.

Shows and hides the Menu bar in Mozilla Firefox browser or highlights the menu bar within an open application in Microsoft Office programs. Pressing Shift+F10 is the same as right-clicking on a highlighted icon, file, or Internet link.

Opens and closes full screen mode in File Explorer as well as in all modern internet browsers. In Microsoft Excel, Shift + F11 adds a new sheet and Ctrl + F11 adds a new macro to the workbook.

For all applications within the Microsoft Suite: F12 opens the Save As window on an open application, Ctrl + Shift + F12 is equivalent to Ctrl + P (print function), Ctrl+F12 opens a document, Shift+F12 saves the document (like Ctrl+S) and Ctrl+Shift+F12 prints the document.

Do note that some keyboards’ F1-F12 keys include additional functionality when used in combination with the Fn key. For example, if the F11 key has a blue “Stop” sign under it, pressing Fn + F11 will stop the music you’re listening too. The additional functions available with the use of the Fn key will differ depending on the brand of keyboard you are using. Do check your computer’s documentation or the manufacturer’s website for specific details on which features are available on your keyboard.

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Philip Brooks