What are those F-keys for?

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Sometimes I get asked, “What does the F1 key do? and the rest of those F keys?”

Well, it is hard to answer that question in a simple way. That’s because the F keys (actually they are called Function keys) do different things in different programs. However, there are some consistencies in their usage. Here are some of the things you can do with them.

F1 – this is generally considered the button to hit when you want to open the Help dialogue box – this is fairly consistent with most programs

F2 – In Word, if you hold Ctrl and hit F2, you will see the Print Preview window

F3 – used to open a “Search” window in most programs

F4 – In Word, F4 will repeat the last action. If you just typed a long sentence or paragraph, and for some reason you want to type it again, just hit F4. Also, Alt+F4 will close whatever window is open and at the front of the other windows (this is the safest way to close a pop-up ad)

F5 – In most web browsers, F5 will refresh the content on the page. Go ahead and try it now – you will see this web page reload

F6 – In Firefox or Internet Explorer, this moves the cursor to the address bar and highlights the current address. So if you want to go to a different website, you don’t have to move your mouse up to that line, drag to highlight the address and enter the new address. Just hit F6 and type the new address.

F7 – In Word, F7 automatically runs the Spellchecker

F8 – This key is often used at bootup, if you want to start the computer in Safe Mode

F9 – not many common uses

F10 – in most Windows programs, F10 activates the menu bar – that’s the bar at the top of the screen that says File, Edit, View, etc. Hit the F10 key, and then hit the “Down” arrow on your keyboard, then the “Right” arrow, and you will see what it does. Just a way of accessing those menus with the keyboard instead of the mouse (handy if your wireless mouse battery dies in the middle of something and you have to get to those menus)

F11 – switches back and forth from Full Screen Mode in Firefox and Internet Explorer. Try it and see what changes. Just hit F11 again to get the screen back the way it was before.

F12 – Ctrl + Shift + F12 opens the Print window in Word. Of course, you could just do Ctrl + P

You really can’t hurt anything by experimenting with the Function keys in different programs. And you might just find a keyboard shortcut that you will use forever!

This week’s video is not funny, but it delivers an important message.

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