Finally! A Definitive List of What Those F1 – F12 Keys Do

You can stop wondering about those function keys. We have the answer.

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Haven’t you always wondered what those little function keys at the top of your keyboard do? You’ve probably only used them to adjust your volume or screen brightness, but they actually do a lot more. Keep in mind that some of these function key shortcuts are different depending on the type of computer you have. You are also able to change these features, and some computers come with pre-set functions for these keys that you have to change manually.

So before slamming the keyboard in frustration trying to get them to work, go into your settings and see how your computer has been set up. Pressing the fn button with the F keys will typically enable them to work. These 11 other keyboard shortcuts will make your life easier, too.

Here’s the answer to the mystery of those function keys. You’ll be surprised by how much they can do.

F1

  • Opens help menu when pressed with Windows button
  • Hides/displays ribbon menu in Excel and Word when hit with Control button

F2

  • Alt + Ctrl + F2 opens Document Library in Microsoft Office
  • Allows you to edit the selected folder or file name in Windows Explorer
  • Edits the active cell in Microsoft Excel
  • Ctrl + F2 displays a print preview in Microsoft Word

F3

  • Opens search feature in Windows Explorer
  • Shift + F3 lets you change from lowercase to uppercase to all caps in Word
  • Opens find feature in Firefox and Chrome
  • Opens Mission Control on an Apple computer running macOS X

F4

  • Alt + F4 closes window
  • Places the cursor in the address bar in Explorer

F5

  • Starts slideshow in PowerPoint
  • Refreshes Internet browser pages
  • Ctrl + F5 will completely refresh a web page, clearing the cache and downloads all content again
  • Opens Find and Replace in Microsoft Office

F6

  • Goes to the next page in a split screen in Microsoft Word
  • Ctrl + Shift + F6 lets you easily switch between Word documents

F7

  • Alt + F7 does a spelling and grammar check in Microsoft Word
  • Shift + F7 open Thesaurus in Microsoft Word

F8

  • In Excel, enables extend mode for arrow keys
  • Enables safe mode in Windows
  • Displays a thumbnail image for all workspaces in macOS

F9

  • Refreshes document in Microsoft Word
  • Sends and receives emails in Outlook
  • Ctrl + F9 inserts empty fields into Word
  • Displays a thumbnail for each window in a single workspace in macOS 10.3 or later

F10

  • Opens menu bar
  • Ctrl + F10 maximizes window in Word
  • Shift + F10 does the same thing as a right-click

F11

  • Exits and enter full-screen mode in browsers
  • Shift + F11 adds a new spreadsheet in Excel
  • Hides all open windows and shows the desktop in macOS 10.4 or later

F12

  • Opens Save As in Word
  • Shift + F12 saves Word document
  • Ctrl + F12 opens Word document
  • Ctrl + Shift + F12 prints Word document
  • In macOS 10.4 or later, F12 shows and hides the dashboard

Now that you know what all those function keys do, make sure you know these 15 common computer mistakes you should have stopped making already.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.