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Function keys, what are they really for?

Why do we have function keys and how should we be using them? 

Function keys were introduced back in 1965 on a ‘Flexowriter keyboard’. These keys were created as shortcut keys which could be programmed to suit the user. The idea was to help reduce the need to remove your fingers from the keyboard, making you more efficient. 

All keyboards come with function keys, predominantly located as the top row of keys on your keyboard. 


The Function keys on your device have already been pre-programmed with default actions. Most of us don’t really use them as we don’t know what they really do. On a Windows device the function keys are generally: 

F1 Opens up the Help Menu 

F2 Enables you to rename selected file or folder 

F3 Opens up search within web browser 

F4 Puts cursor in address bar of file explorer or Internet Explorer windows 

F5 Refreshes your web browser page 

F6 Toggles your cursor around your browser page 

F7 Will bring up ‘Grammar Check’ when in Microsoft Word 

F8 Will extend your text selection in Microsoft Office 

F9 Updates fields in Microsoft Office 

F10 Activates menu bar options 

F11 Toggles your screen from normal to full size 

F12 Opens ‘Save As’ within Microsoft Office 

Your systems also have the ability to extend further from these functions by using the Shift/Ctrl/Alt keys with the F1-F12 keys. 

Now depending on the age of your system and programs your use some of these tips may not work. But hey why not give them a try, you never know what you stumble across that you can pass on to your family and friends.


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