Explanation of the Parts of a Laptop Keyboard

By Dennis Hartman

One of the most important parts of a laptop computer is its keyboard. The keyboard usually functions as the primary input device for the user and may contain other elements, such as a trackpad or power button, that conventional desktop keyboards don't have. Learning the functions of all of the parts of your laptop's keyboard will make using it easier and more comfortable.

Keys

Most of a laptop keyboard is taken up by the keys themselves. One of the biggest differences between different laptop keyboards is whether they use a full-size keyboard, or a slightly smaller keyboard to save space. Different brands also contain different keys, some of which respond to a light touch and others that require more force to type with.Neatly all laptop keyboards omit the numeric pad that is located at the right on some desktop keyboards. Laptop keyboards also typically combine the alphabet section with the pointer arrows by making the space bar smaller and adding the arrows to the bottom right corner of the keyboard.

Trackpad

The most common input device on a laptop keyboard besides the physical keys is a touch-sensitive trackpad. Most trackpads include one or more buttons to perform clicks, but some do not. Trackpads may also include a separate lane for scrolling with one finger, while others use a combination of gestures and clicks to switch from tracking to scrolling and other functions.

Pointing Stick

Some laptop keyboards, including a few that also contain trackpads, also include a pointing stick. This is a small rubber button usually places between the G, H and B keys. Users can simply apply pressure to the stick to control the mouse cursor. On laptops equipped with a keyboard that has both a pointing stick and a trackpad, there is usually an option to disable either input device based on the user's preference.

Trackball

Some older laptops have a rolling trackball in place of a pointing stick or trackpad. This device allows the user to roll the ball to control the mouse and may include buttons for clicking, or allow the user to actually depress the ball to register a click.

Hot Keys and Function Keys

Hot keys are programmable keys within the keyboard grid that users can set to perform a variety of specialized functions. Many common software applications support hot keys as shortcuts to specific commands.Function keys, like the F1 through F12 on most desktop keyboards, often share a double purpose on a laptop keyboard. Users can usually set the keys to work as function keys, or set them to perform secondary functions unless a second key is depressed at the same time. This saves space and also gives users customization options.

Other Buttons

Finally, laptop keyboards may contain additional buttons to control other aspects of the computer. In some cases the power button is integrated into the keyboard. Other laptop keyboards contain a switch for switching between multiple graphics processors, or dimming the display. These may be physical buttons or touch-sensitive buttons located within the key grid or directly adjacent to it.