What Is the Function of the F-Keys?

Have you ever wondered what the f-keys, or function keys, on your computer keyboard are?

Have you ever asked yourself: “what is the meaning of the f1 to f12 keys?”

Whatever your questions about the f-keys, I’m here to answer them.


The f-keys—f1, f2, f3, f4, f5, f6, f7, f8, f9, f10, f11 and f12, are also known as the function keys and can be used to perform some special functions. They can be used alone on their own and also can be combined with other keys like Shift, alt, the windows key and ctrl to perform some other functions.

Also other than their primary functions, the f-keys also can be used to get a function or action depending on softwares, such as Word, Excel and so on.

The function of the f-keys when used alone are represented on each of the keys with some signs and demarcations, such as the f9 being used to reduce the screen brightness and f10 used to increase the brightness, both represented with something that looks like sunlight. These functions may defer depending on each laptop model and/or maker, to get other functions of the function keys, please check the signs made on your keyboard.

Below are the functions of the f keys:


F1 can be used to:

  • Get help about Microsoft Windows
  • Get help on any software you’re currently using
  • Windows Key + f1 will open the Microsoft Windows help and support center


F2 can be used to:

  • Rename a selected file or folder
  • Pressing Alt+Ctrl+F2 opens document window in Microsoft Word
  • Pressing Ctrl+F2 displays the print preview window in Microsoft Word
  • Edit the active cell in Microsoft Excel


F3 can be used to:

  • In Microsoft Word, Ctrl+F3 will delete any highlighted text
  • Pressing Shift+F3 changes an highlighted word in Microsoft Word from upper to lowercase or a capital letter at the beginning of the highlighted word
  • Windows Key + F3 opens the Advanced find window in Microsoft Outlook
  • Start the “Find on page” function in Windows Explorer

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F4 can be used to:

  • Repeat the last action performed in Microsoft Word
  • Pressing Alt+F4 closes the program window currently active in Microsoft Windows
  • Pressing Ctrl+F4 closes the open window or tab in the active window in Microsoft Windows


F5 can be used to:

  • Open the Find, Replace, and Go to window in Microsoft Word
  • Reload or refresh the current page in a browser
  • Pressing Ctrl+F5 forces a complete refresh of the web page, clear the cache and download all contents of the page again
  • Refresh the list of contents in a folder
  • Starts a slideshow in PowerPoint


F6 can be used to:

  • Pressing Ctrl+Shift+F6 opens to another open Microsoft Word document (i.e. switches between open documents)
  • Move the cursor to the address bar in a browser


F7 can be used to:

  • Check spelling and grammar in Microsoft Word and Outlook
  • Pressing Shift+F7 runs a Thesaurus check (i.e. synonym and antonym) on an highlighted word

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F8 can be used to:

  • Used to enter the Windows startup menu, commonly used to access Windows Safe Mode
  • Used by some computers to access the Windows recovery system, but may require a Windows installation CD
  • Note: be careful when using this function, don’t use if you’re not tech savvy.


F9 can be used to:

  • Refresh document in Microsoft Word
  • Send and receive e-mail in Microsoft Outlook


F10 can be used to:

  • Activates the menu bar of an open application
  • Pressing Shift+F10 is like “right click” or options on an highlighted word, icon, file, or web link


F11 can be used to:

  • Enter and exit full screen mode in browsers
  • Access the hidden partition(s) on some computers


F12 can be used to:

  • Open the “Save as” window in Microsoft Word
  • Pressing Ctrl+F12 opens an already existing Word document in the last folder
  • Pressing Shift+F12 does the same thing as Ctrl+S – saving a document
  • Pressing Ctrl+Shift+F12 displays print preview in Microsoft Word, same as pressing Ctrl+f2
  • Open a browser console, especially Mozilla Firefox

These are the functions of the f-key and I sincerely hope that you’ve learnt a new thing here today.

As obvious, this is so much information to master at once or master at all except for the ones that we get to use mostly such as for Microsoft Word, which even is a lot to memorize, too. It is advisable that you bookmark this page so that you can easily access them at any point in time.

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