Function keys

F1 F2 F3

The function keys are found at the top of the keyboard. They usually have two purposes:

  • a software function (F1, F2, etc.) that depends on the current application
  • a “hard-wired” effect such as controlling volume or brightness

The software function is like sending a control signal to the current application with a single keypress (that is, without needing a modifier key).

Some keyboards have a function lock (fn lock) that toggles the function keys’ behaviour between software or hard-wired.

You may also be able to use the function key fn as a modifier key to choose the other behaviour.

Function keys can be used together with a modifier key.

Common Windows functions

Microsoft Windows has specific uses for the function keys. The actual action — if any — will depend on which application is running (has the focus) when you press the function key. These are some of the more useful conventions.

key action
F1 get help information on the current application
F3 search
altF4 close the current window
F5 refresh or reload
F7 spelling or grammar check