Touch typing and the mysterious uses of the function keys (F1-F12)

Let’s face it; the world is changing and technology is only continuing to play a bigger role in our primarily digital world. Gone are the days in which computer and typing skills were only for data entry clerks.

As useless as computer class seemed in high school (MSN Games’ Family Feud anyone?), the ability to type without looking at the keys is still a skill I value and use daily. And, while our children’s first exposure to typing will most likely be on a smartphone or tablet, touch typing (typing without looking at the keyboard by placing the fingers on the home keys asdf jkl;) is an essential skill to be learned at any age. Touch typing allows us to write without thinking about how we are writing, but rather what we are writing. Please help stop the spread of the “hunt and peck” typing as so often we see in iPad users!


There are many advantages to being computer literate in the workforce that extend beyond basic typing skills and the ability to communicate effectively in today’s digital world is a skill not to be overlooked in hiring. Computer literacy allows us to get our work done in a more organized, efficient and timely manner (especially if you perform a job that requires you to use a computer on a frequent or regular basis). But, have you ever wondered about the mysterious function keys (F1-F12) at the top of your keyboard?


Let me demystify for you the best uses of the default function keys in Windows:

F1 opens the HELP screen

F2 allows you to RENAME the highlighted icon, file, or folder

F3 opens the SEARCH feature in your internet browser

F4 highlights the ADDRESS bar in Internet Explorer

F5 REFRESHES your internet browser or opens the FIND, REPLACE, GO TO in Word

F6 highlights the ADDRESS bar in most internet browsers

F7 SPELLING and grammar check

F8 enters Windows START UP mode (access Safe Mode)

F9 send and RECEIVE email in Outlook

F10 activates the MENU BAR of an open application

F11 enters and exits FULL-SCREEN mode in your internet browser

F12 opens the SAVE AS window in Word


Some keyboards’ F1-F12 keys include additional functionality when used in combination with the Fn, Ctrl, or Alt key, but give the basics a try for now!