What the F-Keys?

Function Keys

Across the top of your keyboard, you may have noticed a row of keys that go unused. Labelled “F1” to “F12”, they are known as the “Function Keys”, often shortened to “F-Keys”.

As you may suspect from the name, they do actually have a function!

So without further ado, I give you “The Functions of Function Keys”:

  • F1 – Help. Pressing this key will open the Help system for the program you are using.
  • F2 – Rename. In File Explorer, this allows you to Rename the highlighted File or Folder.
  • F3 – Search. In File Explorer, this activates the Search function
  • F4 – Address bar. In Windows Explorer, this will move Focus to the Address bar (or navigation bar).
  • ALT-F4 – Close. Holding the ALT key and tapping F4 will close the current program (or window).
  • F5 – Refresh. In File Explorer or an Internet Browser, this will Refresh the view, making sure that you can see any changes that have occurred. Also useful if a web page has not loaded properly, forcing the browser to attempt to load it again.
  • F6 – Address Bar. Similar to F4, this opens the Address Bar in Web Browsers.
  • F7 – Spell Check. Some programs (Microsoft Word, use this key to run a Spelling Check.
  • F8<No Longer Supported> Safe Mode. This key was used on Booting  to enter the Start-Up menu. Primarily to enter the diagnostic Safe Mode. Modern computers no longer support this.
  • F9<Outlook Only> Send/Receive. If you use the Microsoft Office Suite/Outlook for your email, this key will send any waiting emails, and check for new incoming mail.
  • F10 – Keyboard Mode. In File Explorer, and some other programs, allows you to activate The Ribbon and Menus using the keyboard rather than mouse. Activation Keys are displayed by the Menus. “Esc” (“Escape”) will leave this Mode.
  • F11 – Full Screen. Most Web Browsers, and some other programs, use this to hide “extraneous” parts of the program (such as toolbars and tabs) and display the the web page (or other data) on the whole screen. Pressing again restores the program.
  • F12 – Debug. Some Web Browsers use this to view parts of the Code of web pages, so that developers can hunt down bugs and errors.

The Ones to Look Out For

At the beginning “F1” is always useful for calling up help systems. Hopefully you will need this less as you learn more about your computer.

“F2” (Rename) is useful if you do a lot of Data Manipulation. Digital Photos from your camera will usually be named “DSC0004652.jpg” or similar. Renaming to “FamilyGathering2018.jpg” is a lot more useful.

PRO-TIP: NEVER change the File Extension (.jpg, .doc, .pdf, etc).

“ALT-F4” – Close. Rather than reaching fro your mouse, and pushing it all the way to the top right to hit the “Red X”, you can hold ALT with your left thumb, and tap F4 with your left middle-finger. It may sound tricky, but practice will make it almost second-nature. Particularly helpful if you type a lot.

“F5” – Errors on web pages can often be fixed by refreshing the page.

“F10”  – Keyboard Mode. Some people do not get on with Mice. If you want to reduce mouse-usage, this is a useful key to know (along with the CTRL keys).

Do you play any games that use F-Keys as quick-slots? The “Neverwinter Nights” adventure game uses them to swap your equipment, or cast spells without a complicated set of mouse movements!

Do you have any favourite F-Keys? Do you remember the days when Programs would come with their own strip of card to put by them, to show the program-specific functions?

Have you found any other uses for the F-Keys?

Let us know!