Using Function Keys on a Toshiba Laptop Keyboard

By Josh Fredman

Function keys comprise the top row of keys on all but the most compact keyboards. Numbered F1 to F12, these keys offer user shortcuts to common operations as a way to save time and trouble. In addition to the primary functions of these keys, Toshiba laptops use a standardized system of secondary "Toshiba Functions," accessible by pressing any of these keys while also holding the blue Toshiba Function or "FN" key. Toshiba extends this secondary function system beyond just the function keys, allowing other keys to serve a dual purpose as well.


In most operating systems and programs, including Windows and all major Web browsers, pressing F1 launches the help window for that program or for Windows. On Toshiba keyboards, if you hold down the FN key and press F1 you can lock your computer. It can only be unlocked again with your user password, so this is a good way to protect sensitive information when you need to step away from your computer momentarily.


In Windows Explorer you can rename files by pressing F2. If you hold the FN key and then press F2, you can switch between your customized Toshiba power usage schemes. Simply continue to press F2 while you hold the FN key to toggle through your options. When you're on the battery, this is a fast way to conserve power, while still maintaining the capabilities you need.

F3 and F4

In Windows as well as most programs, including Microsoft Office and all major Web browsers, pressing F3 launches the search utility. If you hold FN and then press F3, this activates a low-power mode that Toshiba calls "Instant Standby." The computer itself stays on and your session remains booted, allowing you to instantly resume full power operations, but most components turn off. This typically slows battery depletion by 80 to 90 percent.F4 has a variety of uses. In most Web browsers, and Windows Explorer, it instantly takes your keyboard cursor to the address bar and launches the address bar drop-down menu, allowing you to type a URL or file pathway or to navigate your recent browsing history. In Microsoft Office, it repeats your most recent action. If you hold FN and then press F4, this puts the laptop into "Hibernation" mode, which copies the session RAM to the hard drive and shuts down your computer. Hibernation allows you to resume working faster than booting the computer from scratch, and can conserve battery power for weeks, but it's not as fast as using Instant Standby.Be careful with the FN plus F4 key combo. FN sits close to the Ctrl and Alt keys. If you press Ctrl and F4, or Alt and F4, you will often close the tab, window or program that you're currently working in.


F5 refreshes your current browser tab in Web browsers, launches "find and replace" in Microsoft Office and has a variety of other functions in other applications. Ctrl and F5 refreshes your tab and clears your browser's cache for that Web page as well, forcing the browser to completely re-download the page -- a useful trick if you're having problems displaying the page. If you hold the FN key and press F5, Toshiba presents your display options. Continue holding FN and keep pressing F5 to cycle through the options. This is useful for presentations and certain home entertainment setups, but serves no purpose if your laptop isn't connected to any other display besides its own screen.

F6 and F7

In Web browsers, F6 takes your keyboard cursor to the address bar without opening the address bar drop-down menu. On Toshiba laptops, press FN and then press F6 as many times as you want to incrementally lower the screen's brightness. Bright screens consume a great deal of power, so dimming your screen is a great way to prolong your battery's charge.In Microsoft Office, F7 opens Spell Check. In most Web browsers, it enables you to toggle into an unusual mode called "Caret Browsing," which allows you to select text with the keyboard instead of the mouse. When you hold FN, F7 serves as the counterpart to F6, raising the screen's brightness one level at a time.

F8 and F9

F8 has no general purpose by itself in many common computer applications. On Toshibas, holding FN and then pressing F8 as many times as you like allows you to cycle through your wireless options. This is useful for switching into Bluetooth mode if you have it, or for saving power by shutting down the wireless antennas when you don't need a wireless connection.F9 also has no general purpose in many applications. FN plus F9 toggles the mouse touch pad on and off -- although many Toshibas also have a button for this directly above the touch pad. If you use a separate mouse, this can keep the touch pad from getting in your way.

F10, F11 and F12

F10 is the keyboard shortcut to access the main menu of whatever application you're in, allowing you to navigate menus with the arrow keys. On larger Toshibas, there isn't a dedicated FN function for F10, but on smaller Toshiba notebooks, where the keyboard is packed tightly together, pressing FN and F10 toggles the arrow pad on and off. This can help keep the arrow keys from getting in your way if you do a lot of typing.F11 toggles between full screen mode and normal mode in most applications, including Web browsers and the Windows desktop environment. On larger Toshibas there isn't a dedicated FN secondary function for F11, but on Toshiba notebooks F11 will toggle the number pad on and off. In Web browsers, F12 toggles the developer tools on and off. This lets you look into the guts of the website you're on. In Microsoft Office, F12 brings up the Save prompt. On larger Toshibas, there is no FN function for F12, but on smaller Toshibas pressing FN and F12 launches zoom control.

Other Useful FN Functions and Obscure FN Functions

Pressing FN and the Space Bar on your Toshiba toggles between the available screen resolutions. Pressing FN and the Escape key toggles the mute on the speakers. Pressing FN and the End key executes the "print screen" function, which is how you take a screenshot. Pressing FN and Page Down activates the "pause" function, which is commonly used to pause video games.On larger Toshibas, pressing FN and the 1 key toggles the zoom out control, while FN and 2 will toggle the zoom in control. This is separate from browser zoom. Pressing FN and the 3 key lowers your system sound volume, while FN and 4 raises it.Pressing FN and the Insert key toggles the scroll lock. Pressing FN and the Home key launches the "system request function," which has no standard purpose in modern computing. Pressing FN and the Page Up key launches the "break" function. Some applications use this to switch between login sessions or terminate the application.