Q: What do all of those "F" buttons at the top of my keyboard do? Will learning their function make using my computer easier?
A: Not all keyboards are created equally, nor do they work the same with all operating systems. But, regardless of whether you're a Mac or a PC user, certain "F" buttons -- otherwise known as function keys -- can provide a few useful keyboarding shortcuts.
On both Macs and PCs, the function keys have different uses in different programs. However, some basic functions are standardized. Here's a cheat sheet of some useful ones that we've compiled for you.
- F1: For almost all applications this function opens a help screen. If no application is open, it will direct you to Windows Help.
- F2: This key will rename a selected item.
- F3: Pressing this key opens the search option.
- F4: Holding down Alt+F4 closes the current active window. If there is no active window it opens the Shut Down box.
- F5: If you're using most Internet browsers, F5 refreshes the page.
- F6: This key is useful when using Word. Holding Ctrl+Shift+F6 opens a new document and Ctrl+F6 brings a different document forward, if you're working with multiple documents.
- F7: Also handy in Word, this key runs spellcheck.
- F8: Using this function triggers "Safe Mode."
- F10: This activates Menu Bar options such as "File," Edit," etc.
- F11: When using an Internet browser, this shifts to full-screen mode.
- F12: In Word, this opens a new document.