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Updated: Apr. 18, 2024

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

    Finally! A Definitive List of What Those F1 – F12 Keys Do (21)Tatiana Ayazo/, shutterstock
    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.


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


    • 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


    • 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
    • OpensMission Control on an Apple computer running macOS X


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


    • 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


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


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


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


    • 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


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


    • 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


    • 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 these15 common computer mistakes you should have stopped making already.

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    Originally Published: December 13, 2019


    Morgan Cutolo

    Morgan has written dozens of lifestyle articles for Reader's Digest, covering quirky facts, trivia, memes and humor. She is a former editor at Reader's Digest and Trusted Media Brands. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast near her home in Maine and snuggling on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to read a good book or watch The Office.

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    Finally! A Definitive List of What Those F1 – F12 Keys Do (2024)
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