Computer Keyboard Functions for F1, F2, F3 and F4

By Jane Williams

Most of the top row of every computer keyboard offers a line of keys labeled from "F1" to "F12" and often arranged in groups of four. Known as "function keys," these little buttons offer a quick, one-touch operation for various actions within programs. The task associated with these keys vary from program to program, and some keys may not do anything at all in certain contexts. Note that these keys should not be confused with the actual "function" key near the bottom of some keyboards, especially laptops without number pads, that sports the abbreviation "Fn" and works in tandem with other keys to produce different results.

F1

The "F1" key works almost universally as the help menu key. Pressing this in most programs will open the software's help screen for easy assistance. This key also sometimes accesses the CMOS setup screen while the computer boots (different manufacturers might use different keys) and opens the help center for Windows when pressed with the Windows key at the bottom of the keyboard.

F2

The "F2" key allows you to rename a file or icon that has been highlighted with a single left mouse click, much like right-clicking the mouse would allow. It can also open CMOS setup, depending upon how your computer system is configured. While in Microsoft Word, using the "Ctrl" and "F2" keys will open the print preview window while pairing it with the "Alt" and "Ctrl" keys will summon the "Open" dialog.

F3

"F3" opens the search feature not only in Windows itself, but also in many other programs as well. While in command-line mode, "F3" will repeat the last command line. In Microsoft Word, holding the "Shift" key while pressing "F3" will change the highlighted text's case from upper to lower or change the first letter of every word to a capital; keep pressing the key to cycle through the various capitalization types.

F4

Pressing "F4" opens the "Find" window to allow easy searching of your current page. Versions of Microsoft Word 2000 and later use this key to repeat the last command performed in the document. Combining "Alt" with "F4" closes the current active program while "Ctrl" and "F4" closes the current active window.