What do these keys do?

A reader has questions about what some of the keys on her keyboard are for:

“What I want to know is if there is somewhere that we can find out what the keys on the keyboard actually do. Those small ones across the top of mine = esc; F1?; F2; F3; etc. And my keys have little blue icons in the right corner, what do they do. Also number keys have those little blue icons too. In fact – why are all those little blue things for on most of the keyboard keys. ( I do know that esc lets you escape from what there is no other way to get out of whatever you got into wrongly.) But not the others.”


The easiest one is the = sign. That’s to type an equal sign just like any letter or number keyboard. The keys beginning with F at the top are functions keys. The blue keys are additional function keys, usually found on laptops.  You’ll also see a Fn key on the keyboard as well.


If you press the blue Fn key and then press a key with a blue icon on it, you’ll get the action shown in blue. If the blue Fn key is not pressed, the key performs its standard function.


In the keyboard I’ve used to demonstrate below, depressing the Fn key could allow you to use some of the center keys like a number keypad.


Or to shut the WiFi off and on. I used to do that accidentally all the time.


What the blue Fn key does will depend on your laptop. Those can very from keyboard to keyboard. There should have been a key with the documentation for your laptop. If there isn’t, you may be able to look it up on the manufacturer’s website.

For example, click here to see an HP keyboard map.

Click here for Lenovo.

Click here for Sony.

By the way, they don’t HAVE to be blue. The Fn key on my Surface keyboard is not blue.

The standard F1 thru F12 keys perform different functions depending on the program you’re using them in.

Esc will usually get you out of whatever window you’re in.

F1 will pull up help for many programs.

F2 allows you to rename an object on the desktop.

F3 opens a search box in a browser

F4 will display an address bar in a browser

F5 will refresh the current window.

F6 will cycle through various elements on the screen and select them.

F7 performs various functions depending on the program.

Again, each of these keys performs a specific function depending on the program you’re using. And then we get into the keyboard combinations where you press Shift or Ctrl first. The options are almost endless and it’s probably best to learn them program by program. Microsoft’s support pages having handy guides for the Office Suite.

2 thoughts on “What do these keys do?

  1. Cyn, thanks. Like you indicated – It doesn’t have to be complicated. So why is it always so complicated? To us senior senior citizens, that is. Thank goodness we have you, thanks, Trish

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.