What Are Function Keys - F1, F2, ....., F12 On Keyboard

Umair Shaikh | Thursday, May 30, 2013 |

Recently I accidently spilled some water on my Desktop Keyboard and while cleaning I realized, there are so many keys on Keyboard which not many people are aware of and that's why simply ignore their presence. That's how I came up with an idea to explain the features of those keys which not many people are aware of and are not using it.

(Pic Ref : Wikipedia)
To start with, in this article I will explain the functionality of the Function Keys (F1, F2, ...., F12) which you may find in all the Desktop and Laptop Keyboards. These keys are present in the top row of your Keyboard and provide some basic but very useful features (they are like Keyboard Shortcuts). On new or advance keyboards, you will find additional functionalities which are added by the manufacturers on these function keys for e.g. Volume Up/Down/Mute etc.

Moreover, each Function Key has a standard function which it performs when you press it, but you can also perform some additional tasks if you use these keys along with CTRL / ALT / SHIFT key. In Laptops, you may perform more additional tasks using these Function keys, if you use it along with Fn key.

Anyhow, in this article I will explain what will happen when you press each of these Function keys in Windows and what other functions it can perform if you use it along with CTRL / ALT / SHIFT keys.

F1 Key

* If you press F1 key in Windows (on Desktop or anywhere in Windows Explorer), it will open a Help and Support Center window, which you can use to learn more about Windows.

* If you press F1 key while using any software, it will open a help window for that particular software.

F2 Key

* This is a very useful key, which you can use to Rename any file / folder / icon in Windows. Just select any File / Folder and then press F2 key.

F3 Key

* Using the F3 key in Windows, you can quickly open a Search Window. Using this search, you can make a search for files / folders in your PC.
In Win XP
In Win 7

* If you press F3 in a browser, then it will open a Search / Find box, using which you can search for a word on that particular page only.
Internet Explorer


F4 Key

* Pressing F4 key in Windows Explorer will open the Address Bar, from where you can quickly navigate to other Folders / Drives in Windows.

* Pressing F4 in Internet Explorer will open the Address Bar, from where you can re-visit your previously / recently opened pages. (This key doesn't work in any other browser)

* If you hold down ALT Key and then press F4 key (ALT+F4), then it will close the active window or the complete software. Means, whatever you are working on, you can close that window immediately by pressing the ALT+F4 key. For e.g. if you have opened 3 word documents, by pressing the ALT+F4 key in Word will close the Microsoft Word program completely, including all of the three documents.

* But If you have opened 3 word documents, by pressing the CTRL+F4 key will only close that particular document which is currently active, it will not close the complete software.

* In any Web Browser, you can press CTRL+F4 key to close the currently active Tab. The same thing can be achieved by pressing the CTRL+W.

* If none of the window / software is open or you are at the Desktop, then pressing the ALT+F4 key will pop-up the Shutdown / Log Off / Restart message.

F5 Key

* Pressing the F5 key will refresh your screen. Doesn't matter wherever you are in Windows, pressing this key will quickly refresh it.

* The best use of F5 key is when you are browsing on the Internet. Pressing the F5 key in any browser, will Reload the page. This key is especially helpful when you visit any Sports website to see the live score or to read a live commentary of a match. These websites are set to refresh automatically after every 30 seconds or 1 minute, so that you will get a new score / commentary each time it refreshes. But when thousands of people visit the same websites at a same time, then you will feel some kind of lag on those pages. F5 key helps you to refresh those pages quickly whenever you want.

* But in some cases, F5 key also doesn't work properly and you still see old updates on those websites. In such situation, you can hold down CTRL key and then press F5 key (CTRL+F5) to forcefully refresh the page without loading the contents from the browser's Cache, and it works most of the time.

F6 Key

* If you are at Desktop, pressing F6 key will toggle between the Desktop Icons, Taskbar Items, Status Tray Icons and Show Desktop button. Means, without using the mouse, you can open or select any of the item using F6 key.

* If you are in Windows Explorer, pressing F6 key will toggle between the Drives, Menu bar, Address bar and Side bar items. Means, without using the mouse, you can open or select any of the item using F6 key.

* If you press F6 key in any browser, it will highlight the Address bar of it. It means, you can quickly type any website address without using the mouse.

F7 Key

Pressing F7 key in Internet Explorer will enable the Caret Browsing Feature. This feature puts a movable cursor on the webpage and allows you to select the text using the Keyboard. (Quite a useless option).

F8 Key

* When you turn on PC, immediately press this key to bring these options (as shown below)

Note: You press F8 key when you want to boot Windows in Safe mode.

F9 Key

No Feature (at least not in my knowledge)

F10 Key

* Pressing F10 key in Windows Explorer and Browsers will Show / Highlight the Menu bar. The same thing can be achieve if you simply press the ALT key on Keyboard. (The F10 or ALT key works in most of the softwares).

* Select any file / folder, then hold down SHIFT key and Press F10 key (SHIFT+F10), it will open the Right Click Context Menu. It works in the same way if you click Right Click a folder with a Mouse.

Note: New keyboards even have a Right Click button on them, which you can use to perform similar function.

F11 Key

As already explained in my previous article, with the help of F11 key you can hide your browser's Address Bar, Toolbars, Tabs and Windows Taskbar, which will give you a Full Screen view mode. (for details read : Browse Websites In Full Screen View Mode)

F12 Key

No Feature (at least not in my knowledge)

Last Words

As you can see, some of the Function Keys are quite useful (e.g. F2, F3, F5, F8 & F11), while some Function Keys offer interesting feature only when you use them along with ALT / CTRL / SHIFT key (e.g. F4, F5 and F10) and some of them do nothing or are almost useless (F6, F7, F9, F10 & F12). I tried my best to explain the functionality of these keys in Windows, if you know some other feature of these keys in Windows or in any other software, then do share with us at below page commenting section.

Try these Function Keys on your PC and then share your Comments / Feedback below.


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  1. Useful article indeed. Thanks to share.

  2. All Function theoy or explanation are right I agree with you

  3. Thanks for so useful and productive information

  4. F9: - CTRL + F9 brings inserts braces or curly brackets (e.g in Microsoft Word)
    - ALT + F9 removes ALL of the braces or curly brackets in the entire text

    F12: - Opens “save as” options (not applicable to internet)
    - CTRL + F12 in a document (e.g: Microsoft Words) gives the options to open another file
    - CTRL + SHIFT + F12 : Gives the option to PRINT. Just like CTRL + P.
    - "Windows Sign" +SHIFT + F12 While on Internet Explorer brings other functions...that looks like those used in programming.

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