Why aren't Function keys used anymore?


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 1, 2004
Los Angeles.
I know Expose and Dashboard have recently come to use the final function keys, but it seems to me ever since computers began to get GUI's, function keys have taken a back seat, and become completely unused.

You would think Apple could integrate those into OS X to do certain things, or MS could do that with Windows, but nobody really puts anything up there.

Alt+F4 is the only shortcut I know that involves them, but it seems useless to have a row of 13 keys taking up that much space serving very little use.

I'm thinking of mapping screenshot, black on white, grayscale, various other things to the keys... does anybody have better ideas?

What do you do with your Function keys?


macrumors member
Mar 20, 2006
Hattiesburg, MS
Well, I'm writing this at work right now, so I'm using Windows. Let's see . . . function keys . . .

F1 = help (in many applications)

F3 = save as in wordperfect (I'm a lawyer, so I have to use WP).

F7 = spell check in MS Word; Center one line of text in WP (modifier keys and F7 also affect line alignment)

. . . and there's a lot of othe function key shortcuts for WP.

Function keys also are good for setting up your own customized shortcuts in either Word or WP.

Now on a Mac, I don't know what function keys do except for Expose and Dashboard.


macrumors 65816
Feb 1, 2004
celebrian23 said:
I find the F13 key to be elusive...why in the crap is it there?

What about F14 F15 and F16. Besides being cool fighter jets and controlling my powerbook's screen brightness they're somewhat useless. Especially considering on the Pro keyboards have them. So Apple couldn't really assign anything in the OS to them as macbook (pro) users don't normally have access to them!


macrumors 68030
Mar 24, 2005
A religiously oppressed state
F13 is set to hide and show my dock, F14 + F15 control the brightness on ALL Mac computers (try it), F7 (I think) toggles mirror and extended desktop mode on desktop macs, Control + F2 lets you select things in the menu bar via the keyboard, control + F3 lets you select items in the dock via the keyboard and the rest are there for you to map via the Keyboard & Mouse preferences.

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
F5-F7 with various Alt/Command options are some of my most used keyboard shortcuts in Quark. Usually map F1-3 to style-sheets. F12 to revert files in Adobe apps... and of course, there's Exposé so all in all, they have their uses for me. Except for F15.

On the other hand, I never use the numeric keypad.


macrumors regular
May 25, 2006
Dearborn, MI
When at work, I occasionally have to use an AS400 terminal which has F1 - F24. Most of the time every 'F' has it's own function, which can get annoying at times.