Function keys on a laptop: what are the F1-F12 keys for?

24 November 2023

In today’s post, we invite you on a journey through the world of function keys – small yet highly functional buttons found on every laptop keyboard. Although our fingers pass over the F1-F12 keys daily, not everyone is aware of their full potential. In this article, we will discuss why understanding the functions of these keys is not just a matter of making life easier, but also of using the computer more efficiently.

The History of Function Keys

The origins of function keys date back to when computers were the size of entire rooms and required special technical knowledge to operate. It is worth noting that the first computer keyboards were equipped with function keys as early as the 1960s and 1970s. Their primary task was to execute specific programming and operational commands, which was a real convenience in the era of complex user interfaces.

Today, function keys are not just relics of the past, but primarily tools that can significantly speed up and simplify daily work with the computer.

From simple shortcuts for managing the operating system, through control of the laptop’s hardware settings, to quick access to various functions in popular programs – the modern uses of function keys are as diverse as their users.

Overview of Each Function Key (F1-F12)

Let’s start by looking at what each of the function keys, from F1 to F12, offers. See for yourself how many functions can be performed with a single button.

F1: Help and Support

We begin with F1, which is commonly known as the help key. In most programs, pressing F1 will open a help or support window, providing quick access to useful information. It’s like a pocket help manual, always at your fingertips!

F2: Editing and Renaming

Next, we have F2, an invaluable key for editing and renaming files and folders. With it, instead of right-clicking and selecting “Rename,” you can do it quickly and efficiently with F2, which is especially useful for organizing files.

F3: Search

The F3 key is our personal search engine. We use it for quickly finding files on the computer or phrases on web pages. It’s an excellent tool for quickly locating the information you need.

F4: Address Options and Closing

F4 can be used to expand the address bar in web browsers or file managers. More commonly known is the Alt+F4 combination, which closes the active window – a function many of us know and appreciate.

F5: Refresh

F5 is the refresh key. In web browsers, it allows you to quickly refresh the page’s content. It’s like a breath of fresh air for your screen.

F6: Navigation in Web Browsers

F6 is the key to efficient web navigation. It allows quick access to the address bar in most browsers, significantly speeding up browsing.

F7: Spell Check

The F7 key in some programs is used to run the spell-check tool. In web browsers, the F7 key activates caret browsing.

F8: Access to the Boot Menu

F8 is often used during the operating system boot process. It provides access to advanced boot options, including safe mode – a crucial tool for troubleshooting computer issues.

F9: Quick Launch and Loading

In the programming world, the F9 key is often used as a shortcut to run or compile a project. The F9 key also has its place in the gaming world, where it is often assigned to quick load functions.

F10: Activating the Menu Bar

F10 activates the menu bar in the active program window. This can be particularly useful in programs where the menu is not always visible.

F11: Full Screen

F11 is the key for toggling full-screen mode in many applications, including web browsers.

F12: Saving Documents

Finally, we have F12, which in many editing programs like Microsoft Word, provides quick access to the save document options. It’s a simple way to ensure your work is not lost.

Each of these keys has its unique application that can significantly improve your computer work. Using function keys is not just about increasing efficiency but also saving time and convenience. Every function key holds potential waiting to be discovered.

In the following parts of our guide, we will look at the Fn key and its combinations with function keys.

Klawisz Fn
The position of the Fn key on a laptop keyboard

The Fn Key and Its Combinations with Function Keys

Now we move on to one of the most interesting aspects of laptop keyboards – the Fn key. This small button, often located in the lower-left part of the keyboard, is a kind of key to a range of additional functions that can be invoked in combination with function keys. Let us reveal its secrets to you.

Introduction to the Fn Key Functions

The Fn key, short for “Function,” acts somewhat like a switch that transforms standard function keys into tools for performing special commands. Depending on the brand and model of the laptop, additional functions may include volume control, screen brightness adjustment, network connection management, and many other functions.

Examples of Fn Key Combinations with Function Keys

  • Fn + F1/F2/F3…: This combination can be used to adjust various system settings. For example, Fn + F2/F3 can be used to adjust the volume on the laptop, while Fn + F1 can mute the speakers entirely.
  • Screen Brightness Adjustment (Fn + F5/F6): Some laptops use the combination Fn + F5/F6 to increase and decrease screen brightness. It’s an intuitive way to quickly control screen brightness without entering system settings.
  • Keyboard Backlight Management (Fn + F10/F11/F12): On laptops with backlit keyboards, these combinations can be used to adjust the backlight level, which is particularly useful in different lighting conditions.
  • Sleep Mode or Lock (Fn + F4): This combination can be used to quickly put the laptop into sleep mode or lock it, which is useful during short breaks in work. On some laptops, it can also be used to mute the microphone.

How to Use Fn Key Combinations?

The key to effectively using Fn key combinations is understanding what additional functions are available on your laptop under selected F1/F2/F3 keys, etc. It’s worth checking the user manual or the symbols on the keys, which often indicate their additional functions. Information about your laptop model and the additional functions hidden under these keys can also be found in the help section on the device manufacturer’s website.


The journey through the world of function keys is coming to an end, but this is just the beginning of your adventure in discovering the full potential of these powerful buttons. We have presented many possibilities offered by function keys – from basic actions like help and editing to more advanced functions such as system settings control and browser navigation.

Key Points to Remember:

  1. Understanding the functions of the keys: Each function key, from F1 to F12, has its unique function that can streamline daily work and navigation.
  2. Fn Key: This small key switch allows access to a whole range of additional functions, including volume control, screen brightness, and many more.

I encourage you to experiment with function keys. Not only will they enhance work comfort, but they will also allow you to utilize the full potential of your laptop.

Remember, technology is here for us to make our lives simpler and more productive. Function keys are a perfect example of how even the smallest things can make a big difference.