Have you ever looked at that top row of keys on your keyboard and wondered what they're for?
Many programs in Windows extend the possibilities of shortcuts among the function keys by adding other keys in combination.Now, you will probably hardly ever use them, if you ever even do. However, these function keys allow users to perform some useful shortcuts for computer programs. The most commonly seen combinations are Shift plus any of the function keys, ALT and a function key, and CTRL and a function key. Familiarizing yourself with these combinations can come in very handy among Windows Applications.
The following is a brief description of what all these function keys can do:
F1 KeyThe F1 function key often will work as a shortcut to bringing up the help menu in many of the common programs you will probably use. If you press the F1 key while working with the Windows Explorer open, you'll notice that a Windows help screen will pop up. If you are working in any program and would need to see or use the Windows help screen, all you have to do is press the Windows key, which is the key in the bottom left row of keys on your keyboard with the Windows logo on it), press F1 simultaneously.
F2 KeyIf you ever need to rename a file or folder while working in Windows, you can use the F2 key to do so. Simply highlight the file or folder you wish to change the name of, press the F2 key, and the dialog box will pop-up, allowing you to change the name. After you change the name, simply click outside the box or press enter, and the name will change. This function is identical to what you do by right-clicking a file or folder you wish to change and selecting Rename.
F3 KeyIn any Windows program, pressing the F3 function key will open the Find Files window option.
F4 KeyOne very useful function key is the F4 key. When in Windows Explorer, pressing the F4 key will open the Address bar, allowing you type in the address of any website giving you much quicker access. In relation, if you press the ALT key simultaneously with the F4 key, that will close the current window you are working in.
F5 KeyThe F5 function key serves as the refresh key. By pressing the F5 key when browsing websites, it will re-upload that current page to make sure you are viewing the most recent version of that particular page. The F5 key also works in windows programs to refresh your screen. For many people, this can come in quite handy. For example, if you are viewing the contents of a disk, and you need to insert a new disk, instead of closing the screen out, you can simply press the F5 key and the screen will refresh, showing you the contents of the most recently inserted disk.
F6 KeyOften times in many Windows programs, pressing the F6 function key will move the cursor from place to place within the program, enabling you to do so without the use of a mouse.
F7 KeyIn Windows programs, the F7 function key does not have any predefined functions. Some individual programs may use the key, otherwise, you can set your own function to the F7 key.
F8 KeyDuring your computers booting process, pressing the F8 function key will allow access to Safe Mode start-up. Safe Mode is the trouble-shooting mode, which starts the computer using minimal drivers.
F9 KeyLike the F7 function key, the F9 key does also does not have any predefined function in Windows. However, some individual programs may use the F7 function key; otherwise you may assign it to your own functions, as described in one of our previous articles.
F10 KeyIn order to activate the menu bar in most Windows programs, pressing the F10 function key will do so. Pressing the F10 key within the menu bar will highlight the first choice in the menu, allowing you to then use the arrow keys to move up and down the menu.
F11 KeyTo view the full screen mode when in
Internet Explorer, pressing the F11 function key is a shortcut to doing so. Pressing the F11 key will make all visible toolbars disappear and is usually used when you need to view more information on the screen at one time. Pressing the F11 key a second time will restore you back to the normal view.
F12 KeyThe F12 function is just like F7 and F9; it doesn't have any predefined functions in Windows. Individual programs may use it, or you may assign your own function to these keys.
Many programs in Windows extend the possibilities of shortcuts among the function keys by adding other keys in combination. The most commonly seen combinations are Shift plus any of the function keys, ALT and a function key, and CTRL and a function key. Familiarizing yourself with these combinations can come in very handy among Windows Applications. For example, in Microsoft Word, highlighting any text then pressing the Shift key simultaneously with the F3 key will change the highlighted text from all caps, initial caps, to all lowercase. Shift and the F7 function key will open the Thesaurus command.
Since the functions of the function key can differ between programs, it often comes in handy to look at the help menu to browse the list of function keys and what they are used for.