How to Use Mac Function Keys: A General Guide

When it comes to using a Mac, you may find yourself wondering how to make the most of its function keys. These special keys are located at the top of your keyboard and can be customized to perform a variety of tasks. In this article, we will go over 12 simple steps that will teach you how to use Mac function keys, as well as provide some additional explanations and tips along the way.


Step 1: Understand the Basics

Before you can start using function keys, it’s important to understand what they are and what they do. Function keys are special keys on your keyboard that are typically labeled F1, F2, etc. They can be used to perform a variety of tasks, from adjusting your screen brightness to playing and pausing media.

Step 2: Determine Your Keyboard Type

The method for using function keys may vary depending on the type of keyboard you have. If you have an older Mac keyboard or a non-Apple keyboard, you may need to press the “fn” key in order to access your function keys.

Step 3: Customize Your Function Keys

One of the great things about Mac function keys is that they can be customized to perform specific tasks. To customize your function keys, go to System Preferences > Keyboard and click on the “Shortcuts” tab. From here, you can assign specific tasks to each function key.

Step 4: Adjust Screen Brightness

One of the most common tasks performed with function keys is adjusting screen brightness. To do this, simply press the “F1” key to dim your screen, or the “F2” key to brighten it.

Step 5: Adjust Volume

Function keys can also be used to adjust your system volume. To decrease volume, press the “F3” key. To increase volume, press the “F4” key.

Step 6: Play and Pause Media

Another handy function of Mac function keys is the ability to play and pause media. To do this, simply press the “F8” key.

Step 7: Skip Backward or Forward

If you need to skip backward or forward in your media, the “F7” and “F9” keys can be used, respectively.

Step 8: Open Mission Control

Mission Control is a feature that allows you to easily view and switch between open applications. To open Mission Control, press the “F3” key.

Step 9: Launch Launchpad

Launchpad is a feature that allows you to quickly access your Mac’s applications. To launch Launchpad, press the “F4” key.

Step 10: Take a Screenshot

Mac function keys can also be used to take screenshots. To take a screenshot of your entire screen, press the “Command + Shift + 3” keys. To take a screenshot of a specific area, press the “Command + Shift + 4” keys.

Step 11: Access Siri

If you use Siri, you can access it quickly by pressing the “F12” key.

Step 12: Use the Touch Bar (If Applicable)

If you have a newer MacBook Pro, you may have a Touch Bar that replaces the function keys. To use the Touch Bar, simply swipe left or right to access different functions. You can also customize the Touch Bar to display specific functions for the applications you use most.


In addition to the 12 steps outlined above, there are some additional things you should know about using Mac function keys. For example, you can use the “Shift” key in combination with function keys to perform certain tasks. For example, pressing “Shift + F11” can be used to decrease volume.

Another handy tip to keep in mind is that you can access keyboard shortcuts for specific applications by holding down the “Command” key and looking for underlined letters in menu items. For example, to save a document in Microsoft Word, you can hold down “Command” and see that the “S” key is underlined in the “File” menu.

Tips and Tricks

Tip 1: Use Function Keys to Save Time

By customizing your function keys to perform specific tasks, you can save time and increase your productivity.

Tip 2: Experiment with Different Shortcuts

Mac function keys are incredibly versatile, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different key combinations and functions.

Tip 3: Use Touch Bar Customization

If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, take advantage of the customization options to tailor the Touch Bar to your needs.

Tip 4: Remember to Use the “fn” Key (If Necessary)

As mentioned earlier, some older or non-Apple keyboards may require you to use the “fn” key in order to access your function keys.

Tip 5: Use Shortcut Cheat Sheets

If you’re having trouble remembering specific keyboard shortcuts, consider printing out a cheat sheet or using a digital version for quick reference.

Tip 6: Know How to Control Your Media

Function keys can be incredibly useful for controlling your music and video playback, so make sure you know how to use them to their fullest potential.

Tip 7: Look Up Additional Shortcuts Online

There are countless additional keyboard shortcuts and function key uses available online, so take some time to research and find ones that work best for your needs.

Tip 8: Keep Your Keyboard Clean

A clean keyboard is key to ensuring that your function keys work properly, so be sure to regularly clean and maintain your keyboard.

Tip 9: Consider Using Third-Party Software

If you need additional customization options or functionality, consider using third-party software to enhance your Mac’s function key capabilities.

Tip 10: Practice Makes Perfect

Finally, remember that like anything else, using function keys takes practice. The more you use them, the more comfortable and efficient you’ll become.

In conclusion, knowing how to use Mac function keys can greatly enhance your productivity and improve your overall user experience. By following the 12 steps outlined in this article, as well as utilizing the additional explanations and tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Mac function key expert.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Mac Function Keys


1. Enhanced productivity – Mac function keys can help you easily switch between apps, control volume, brightness, and other features without having to use your mouse or touchpad.

2. Customizable – You can remap Mac function keys to perform actions that suit your needs and preferences, making your workflow more efficient and comfortable.

3. Accessibility – Mac function keys can be used to perform actions that are otherwise difficult to execute, such as screen recording or opening the “Force Quit Applications” window.

4. Consistent across apps – Most Mac applications support the same set of function keys, providing a consistent experience across different programs and reducing the learning curve.

5. Multitasking – With Mac function keys, you can quickly switch between open applications or windows, making it easier to multitask and work on multiple projects simultaneously.

6. Save time – Learning and using Mac function keys can save you time and eliminate unnecessary clicks or steps, allowing you to complete tasks more quickly.

7. Compatible with external keyboards – Mac function keys work seamlessly with most external keyboards, even those designed for Macs, providing a familiar and unified user experience.

8. Accessibility for people with disabilities – Mac function keys can be programmed or customized to perform tasks that are easier for people with disabilities or physical impairments.

9. Energy-saving – Mac function keys allow you to quickly adjust settings such as screen brightness, which can help prolong battery life and reduce energy consumption.

10. Aesthetically pleasing – Mac function keys have a sleek and modern design that complements the overall look and feel of Apple products, enhancing the visual appeal of your workspace.


1. Limited functions – Mac function keys offer a limited range of actions compared to other keyboard shortcuts or applications, which may not satisfy users who require more advanced features or customization options.

2. Learning curve – Learning and memorizing the various Mac function keys can take some time and practice, especially if you’re not familiar with keyboard shortcuts or using a Mac.

3. Accidental triggering – Due to their proximity to regular keyboard keys, Mac function keys may be accidentally pressed or triggered, interrupting your workflow or causing unwanted actions.

4. Conflicts with app shortcuts – Some Mac applications may have their own set of keyboard shortcuts that conflict with the default Mac function keys, causing confusion and frustration for users.

5. Limited customization – While Mac function keys are customizable, the options are still somewhat limited, especially for users who require highly specific or unique shortcut combinations.

6. Not universal – Mac function keys are designed specifically for Apple products, which means they may not be compatible with other operating systems or devices.

7. Small size – Depending on the size and layout of your keyboard, Mac function keys may be relatively small or difficult to see, which can be inconvenient for some users.

8. Reduced accessibility – For users with certain physical impairments or disabilities, using Mac function keys may be more difficult or impossible due to their location or size.

9. Limited feedback – Some Mac function keys may not provide tactile or audible feedback when pressed, which can make it difficult to know whether or not the key was registered.

10. Limited market – Because Mac function keys are specific to Apple products, their market is limited to Mac users, which may be a disadvantage for users who frequently work with other devices or operating systems.


1. What are function keys on Mac?

Function keys on Mac are the group of keys located at the top of the keyboard. They are labeled F1 through F12 and are designed to perform special actions that vary depending on the application you are using.

2. How do I access function keys on my Mac?

To access function keys on your Mac, simply press the Fn key and then press the desired function key. You can also enable the “Use F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys” function in the Keyboard preferences to use function keys without pressing the Fn key.

3. What is the purpose of the F1 key on a Mac?

The F1 key on a Mac is usually used to decrease the screen brightness. Pressing this key repeatedly will lower the brightness until it reaches its minimum level.

4. What is the purpose of the F2 key on a Mac?

The F2 key on a Mac is usually used to increase the screen brightness. Pressing this key repeatedly will increase the brightness until it reaches its maximum level.

5. What is the purpose of the F3 key on a Mac?

The F3 key on a Mac is usually used to open Mission Control, which shows you all your currently open windows and spaces on your Mac.

6. What is the purpose of the F4 key on a Mac?

The F4 key on a Mac is usually used to open Launchpad, which provides quick access to all your applications.

7. What is the purpose of the F5 key on a Mac?

The F5 key on a Mac is usually used to trigger Back/Forward navigation in web browsers or file managers.

8. What is the purpose of the F6 key on a Mac?

The F6 key on a Mac is usually used to minimize the current window.

9. What is the purpose of the F7 key on a Mac?

The F7 key on a Mac is usually used to play or pause media playback.

10. What is the purpose of the F8 key on a Mac?

The F8 key on a Mac is usually used to fast forward media playback.

11. What is the purpose of the F9 key on a Mac?

The F9 key on a Mac is usually used to display the current time in the Notification Center.

12. What is the purpose of the F10 key on a Mac?

The F10 key on a Mac is usually used to show all open windows of the currently active application.

13. What is the purpose of the F12 key on a Mac?

The F12 key on a Mac is usually used to eject a CD or DVD from your Mac.

How to Use Mac Function Keys

Mac function keys, also known as F keys, can help make your experience with your Mac more efficient and effective. While some users may not be familiar with using them, they can make a big difference in how you navigate through your computer. In this article, we’ll explore how to use Mac function keys and some of the common tasks they can help you perform.


Using Mac function keys can help you take full advantage of your computer’s capabilities and increase your productivity. Whether you’re a casual user or a power user, there’s a function key that can help you get your work done more efficiently. From adjusting your computer’s volume to quickly accessing your favorite websites, learning how to use Mac function keys is a great way to streamline your computing experience.

So next time you’re using your Mac, try using some of these function keys to see how they can enhance your workflow. With a little practice, you’ll be a Mac function key master in no time!


Thank you for reading this article on how to use Mac function keys. We hope you found it informative and helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below. And as always, happy computing!