What Those F1 – F12 Keys Actually Do

Look at your computer’s keyboard and you’ll notice the cluster of function keys labeled F1 to F12. You might press them to adjust the volume on your computer, or for playback features on video applications.

Maybe you’ve never used these keys because you were unsure what they were for, so it’s time to unravel the mystery. Those keys perform multiple actions when used within operating systems and browsers, so get ready for a crash course in the function keys.

Add on to your existing knowledge of Ctrl + Alt + Del and other mouse-free advanced tricks. With this list below, you’ll be endowed with a set of shortcuts and easy fixes once you get the hang of them.


  • Activates the help menu immediately
  • On a Windows menu, when pressed with the Windows key it will bring up Microsoft’s help and support menu
  • Ctrl + F1 hides and displays ribbon menu in Microsoft Excel and Word


  • Enables you to edit a selected folder or file name in Windows Explorer
  • In Microsoft Office, pressing Alt + Ctrl + F2 opens the Documents Library


  • Allows you to search files in Window Explorer
  • Opens the Find feature in web browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome
  • Shift + F3 is used to change case in MS Word, including all caps, lowercase, or uppercase


  • Duplicates your action within a program like drawing a line
  • Alt + F4 closes active program windows quickly
  • In Windows Explorer, places the cursor in the address bar


  • Refreshes internet browser pages or the screen in Windows
  • Opens “Find and Replace” in Microsoft Office
  • Starts PowerPoint slideshow


  • Moves cursor to address bar in web browsers
  • For Microsoft Word, jumps to next pane in a split screen
  • Ctrl + F6 allows you to toggle between multiple Word documents


  • Shift + F7 prompts the Thesaurus function to open in Microsoft Word
  • Alt + F7 checks spelling and grammar in MS Word documents


  • Launches safe mode when Windows boots up
  • In MS Excel, enables Extend Mode for arrow keys


  • Updates fields in Microsoft Word
  • Ctrl + F9 inserts empty fields in Word


  • Opens the menu bar
  • Shift + F10 operates as a right click
  • Ctrl + F10 maximizes a window in MS Word


  • Enters and exits full screen mode in web browsers
  • Shift + F11 adds a new spreadsheet in MS Excel


  • Opens the “Save As” command in MS Word
  • Shift + F12 saves the document in Word
  • Ctrl + F12 opens a document in Word

Keep in mind that on many laptop PCs, pressing the “Fn” on the keyboard will enable functions to use with F-keys on your computer such as those for multimedia. If those options are already enabled on your computer, you can deactivate them by going to the control panel.

With the amount of  computers out there, many ways exist to customize your system’s programs. Therefore some of these tips may not work on your computer.  Go ahead, try them and you can cut down on keystrokes and mouse clicks by using a few of these handy functions.

Were you already using some of these shortcuts? Which of these keys would you use the most to save time? What other keyboard shortcuts do you know?