How to Use F1 on a Mac

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On a Mac keyboard, some of the function keys have hard-coded actions. For example, the F4 key opens the Dashboard, and the F1 key dims the display. Users can't alter these functions. If you need to bypass those hard-coded functions, whether you're using Mac OS or running Windows on a virtual machine or Boot Camp partition, you can easily force the Function keys to work as such, by holding down the keyboard's "Fn" key each time you want to use a Function key -- or by changing the system options.

Mac OS

  • In Mac OS X, click the Apple icon menu and open System Preferences.

  • Choose "Keyboard."

  • Place a check mark in the box labeled "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys."

  • Access the hard-coded functions, such as F1 for dimming the display, by holding down the "Fn" key while pressing the F1 or any other F-number key.

Windows

  • Hold down the "Fn" key while pressing the F1 key or any other F-number key. This works whether you're running Windows on a virtual machine such as Parallels or using Boot Camp.

  • Open the Boot Camp Control Panel, if you're running Windows in Boot Camp, to access Function key options and change the function keys to their Windows equivalents without having to press the "Fn" key each time.

  • Click the "Keyboard" tab.

  • Place a check mark in the box labeled "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys."

Tips & Warnings

  • After you enable standard functions for the F-number keys, use the "Fn" key to enable their hard-coded functions.
  • Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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