Your typical Windows keyboard is divided into several parts such as the function keys, the main typing keyboard or typewriter keys, the directional keys, and the numeric keypad, among others.

Each of these keys has its own function. But, although the F-keys are in the front row of the keyboard, they have taken a somewhat back seat, and are rarely used because not many people know their functions.

In this article, we will walk you through the function keys, what they are, and their key functions. So, the next time you hear about function keys, it won’t sound like Greek to you.

So, what are function keys?

The function keys are the keys from F1 to F12 (or on some keyboards, F19) located at the top of your keyboard. You can use them for a variety of things, from getting help to controlling your media volume, among others.

Function keys can act alone and perform some single key actions, e.g. F5 To refresh a page. They can work in conjunction with modifier keys such as Ctrl, Shift, and Alt to perform specific commands.

Function keys are also programmable, meaning any developer can configure them to work in any way they want within the program or software.

Most keyboards also display action icons above some function keys to let you know what that key does when pressed, while others don’t. The latter may leave you in the dark, but not now.

Let’s now go over each function key and most of their individual functions.

F1 KEY

Also known as the “Get Help” key, pressing F1 in most programs will open the Help screen or redirect you to a dedicated Help section or page.

Pressing F1 in PowerPoint will help you take over the currently selected command or control the ribbon while pressing Ctrl+F1 will expand or collapse the ribbon.

To access the Microsoft Windows Help page, simply press Win key + F1 and it will open in Edge if you have it installed.

While your computer is booting up, you can also press F1 to enter BIOS Setup.

F2 key

Pressing F2 will give you the option to rename the selected icon, file, or folder in Microsoft Windows.

In PowerPoint, as well as other Microsoft Office packages, you can access the Print Preview menu by pressing Ctrl+F2.

Still in PowerPoint, pressing Alt+F2 in an open PowerPoint document will open the ‘Save As’ window.

Similar to pressing F1, you can enter BIOS setup in a similar fashion to pressing F2 when your computer boots up. You can also enter CMOS setup using F2.

F3 KEY

When you press Win + F3 in Microsoft Outlook, the “Advanced Search” window will open.

Pressing F3 opens the Find tool in Google Docs, among others.
Pressing F3 opens the search bar on the browser and Windows File Explorer.

F3 will also repeat the last command entered in the MS-DOS or Windows command line.

Pressing Shift+F3 in PowerPoint changes the highlighted text to ALL CAPS, lowercase, or initial CAPS accordingly. This also applies to Microsoft Word.

Pressing F6 highlights the address bar and tabs in the active page on Chrome and most other browsers.

F6 selects the back and close tab buttons respectively in Opera. Pressing F6 twice in Edge prompts you to switch tabs.

Pressing F6 twice activates Key Tips in PowerPoint. Pressing F6 activates the ribbon area again and pressing it afterwards helps you navigate through the main sections of the screen. It works in all Microsoft Office programs.

Pressing Ctrl + Shift + F6 will navigate to another open PowerPoint document. It also works in Microsoft Office programs.

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