What is the FN Key on the Computer Keyboard used for?

Have you noticed that there is an “Fn” key on your computer keyboard? If so, you’ve probably wondered what it was for. It is true that generally it is not used much. And yet, if you knew all the services it can render you.

By combining it with other keys, it allows you to activate lots of super useful secret options! Whether you are on Windows or MAC, these shortcuts will change your life.  Find out what the Fn key on the computer keyboard is for.

Where is “Fn” on the keyboard?

Where is Fn on the keyboard

First of all, you should know that the Fn key is mainly present on laptops. Because due to their small size, laptop keyboards are smaller. It was therefore necessary to find a solution so that these keyboards did not lose any functionality. Hence the presence of the Fn key.

On Apple laptops and PCs, the Fn key is usually located in the lower left corner. Specifically, next to Ctrl and Alt. Usually, the Fn key is blue and allows you to activate the other blue pictograms of the other keys on the keyboard.

The color scheme allows you to know at a glance what are the possible combinations with the other keys. It can also happen that the Fn key is white with a white box. In this case it is the same logic.

It is used to activate the secondary options of the other white pictograms. Be careful, do not confuse “Fn” with the F1 to F12 keys at the top of the keyboard. Because that is another story.

How to use the Fn key?


How to use Fn key

To use the Fn function, it is necessary to do it in the following way. First press and hold this key. Then simultaneously press the function key you want to use. On some keyboards, the Fn key lights up when pressed.

If you have a keyboard like this, check if the light is on and then press the other key. Now that you know how to use the Fn function… …let’s take a concrete look at all the hidden features it offers. All PC brands (Asus, Lenovo, Nvidia, Microsoft, Elitebook, Pavilion, Gigabyte…) are concerned.

How to unlock secondary functions with “Fn”?

How to unlock secondary functions with Fn

“Fn” is the abbreviation of “function”. The main use of the Fn key is that it unlocks the secondary functions of the other keys on the keyboard. To give you a concrete example, I’m going to ask you to look at your computer keyboard.

Look in particular at the F1 to F12 keys. Have you noticed that on some of these keys there are icons next to the number? These icons are often blue, or otherwise a color different from the main function. These icons tell us what happens when we press “Fn” with the key in question.

For example, on my computer, the F9 key comes with a magnifying glass. Well when I press Fn and F9 simultaneously, I activate the secondary function of that key. For example, it opens a search bar for me (that’s why there was a magnifying glass icon). Does that seem clearer to you? Wait, that’s not all.

The Fn key also activates the numbers on the keyboard


The Fn key activates the numbers on the keyboard

You may have noticed that there are no numeric keypads on laptop keyboards? Since these keyboards are too small, the numbers are present on the keys at the top of the keyboard.

Well know that you can activate the numbers other than with the top line. When you simultaneously press “Fn” and certain letters, you get numbers! Here, try pressing “Fn” and one of the letters J, K, L, U, I, O? of the keyboard. You get to get numbers from 0 to 6.

Attention: the action of the Fn function key varies between models, keyboards and operating systems. It’s never the same from one brand to another (Dell, Laptop, Pavilion, Toshiba…). So, to simplify things, I’ll show you what the Fn key does on Windows and Mac. Let’s start with Windows first.

How to use the Fn key in Windows?

How to use the Fn key in Windows

On Windows, using the Fn key + any function key… …mainly allows you to control the “user parameters” functions. What are called user parameter functions, for example, increase or decrease the sound. Or the brightness of the screen.

With the Fn key, there’s no need to dig through long and complicated Windows menus. You press Fn and another function key and you go directly to the command.

So, as I told you, the associated functions are different depending on the computer model. However, here are the most common functions when associated with the icons below: But here’s what you can do by holding down the Fn key and the following key:

  • Turn up the volume, Decrease the volume, Mute.
  • Enable Wi-Fi, Disable WIFI.
  • Activate Bluetooth, Disable Bluetooth.
  • Activate airplane mode, Disable airplane mode.
  • Switch to standby mode.
  • Brighter screen, Less bright screen.
  • Play music, Next track or fast forward playback.
  • Previous track or fast backward playback, Stop the music.
  • Record sound, Mute the microphone, Activate the microphone.
  • Share your screen, Stop screen sharing.
  • Open the search menu, Open a webpage.
  • Lock Fn key, Lock computer screen.
  • Activate or deactivate the camera.

If your computer does not have one of these icons, unfortunately the function in question is not available. Or the icon can also be different in terms of shape. The best is then to test to find out what the key does.

How to use the Fn key on Mac?


How to use Fn key on Mac

So, on Mac, the logic of the Fn key is completely reversed compared to Windows. With Apple, the secondary functions of the F1 to F9 keys are enabled by default. Let me explain by giving you a specific example. Take for example the F1 key on my MacBook.

It basically shows the increase in brightness function and in very small F1. And it’s the same for the other keys F2, F3, Ect… You see, it’s the reverse of Windows. So, activate a function under MAC, no need to press the Fn key and the F key simultaneously.

You press the key in question directly and it triggers the command. You will tell me, but what is the Fn key on Apple for in this case? Well under MAC, you can customize or add secondary functions to the F1 to F9 keys.

It can be for example associated with the F1 key to directly open SAFARI. The F2 key to open the FINDER, etc. Apple therefore offers a way to modify the default behavior of the function keys.

To achieve this, you must: – Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Keyboard. – Click Shortcuts at the top of the window, then select Function Keys from the list on the left. – Click the Add (+) button, select an app and click Add.

Lock the Fn key to use secondary functions easily

Lock the Fn key to use secondary functions easily

There are times when you need to leave a secondary function key active all the time. For example, if you need to work on Excel, it is better to have an active numeric keypad.

Otherwise, we are forced to leave the finger pressed on the Fn key and the secondary key of a number. Not very practical… Fortunately, there is a solution. You just need to use the Fn + Fn Lock keys to lock the Fn key.

As a result, by doing so, the letter keys always become a numeric keypad. When you’re done, press the Fn + Fn Lock keys again. You then unlock the Fn key and return to normal key input.

Lock keyboard arrows

Some keyboards do not have arrow keys. The arrows are therefore secondary functions on other keys. Press the Fn + Fn Lock keys to lock Fn. Result: Arrows can now be used as a mouse to navigate.

Finally, be aware that some keyboards do not have the Fn lock key. Depending on the keyboard and device brand, Fn Lock can be enabled in different ways. It can be Fn + Esc, Fn + Caps Lock, Fn + Ctrl or even Fn + Insert.


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