Function Keys (F1 – F12): What are F Keys and How to Use them

If you have noticed the strange keyboard keys labeled “F1” or “F11”, you might be confused at first as to what their purpose is. Upon understanding their purpose, it becomes crucial to the computer experience. 

This guide will explain why the F keys exist and how they can be used for both Macs and Windows computers.

What are Function keys?

A function key is a key located at the top of the keyboard that is labeled F1, F2, F3, and so on. Its main purpose is to allow users to quickly open up some menus or adjust key settings such as screen brightness, volume, and more when using the keys by themselves or in conjunction with the Fn key. 

There are different effects based on the Fn key used and the specific device you are using. To make the list concise and clear, we will concentrate on functions seen more commonly on Windows and Mac. 

How to use the Function keys on Windows?

Function keys on Windows

Typical Windows keyboards have 12 function keys, such as F1 through F12. These keys provide quick access to a variety of functions. For instance, pressing F2 will open a window that allows you to rename files.

It may be possible for a laptop to have unique functions such as brightness adjustment or touchpad lock with just pressing the Fn key with the Function keys. The table below shows you all the basic functions of the function keys on a Windows computer in a quick and easy way. 

Windows Function keys 

Function Key Assigned Function
F1 Opens the help menu
F2 Rename file
F3 Opens the search menu
F4 Expands the search bar in the Edge browser
F5 Refreshes webpage
F6 Toggle through elements on screen
F7 Opens spell check on documents
F8 Used to safely boot during the time of start-up
F9 Refresh Outlook fields 
F10 Opens the menu bar in some programs
F11 Browser fullscreen mode toggle
F12 Opens “save as” menu in some programs

How to use the Function keys on Mac?

Function keys on Mac

On a Mac, the function keys are mostly designed to control media on the fly. They can be used either by themselves or in conjunction with the Function key to perform different tasks. 

All Mac computers have the same functions thanks to the standardised operating system. Let’s look at what each function key does on a Mac. 

Mac Function keys

Function Key Assigned Function 
F1 Decrease screen brightness
F2 Increase screen brightness
F3 Opens mission control 
F4 Opens launchpad 
F5 Decrease keyboard backlight brightness 
F6 Increase keyboard backlight brightness
F7 Play last track 
F8 Play/Pause media
F9 Play next track
F10 Mute audio
F11 Decrease volume
F12 Increase volume


1) What is F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 F6 F7 F8 F9 F10 F11 F12?

Generally found near the top of a keyboard, the F keys from 1-12 provide control over certain aspects of the computer. These changes depend on the operating system and device that you are using.

2) How do I lock and unlock the Fn key?

A standard keyboard allows you to unlock the Fn key by holding down the Fn key and the Ctrl key at the same time. If you need to lock it again, repeat the procedure.

3) What is the F12 function key?

The F12 function key is usually the last function key on most keyboards. It opens up developer tools in web browsers. You can open the “save as” menu for the program you’re using by pressing the F12 key on a Windows computer. Meanwhile, pressing the F12 key on a Mac will increase your speakers’ volume. 

4) What is the function of F5?

In Windows, the F5 key is usually used to refresh the page. On a Mac, the F5 key decreases the intensity of the keyboard backlight. On some laptops, the F5 key can be used with the Fn key for other effects. 


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