How to Use your Keyboard!


A computer keyboard is one of the primary input devices used with a computer. Similar to an electric typewriter, a keyboard is composed of buttons that create letters, numbers, and symbols, as well as perform other functions. The following sections provide more in-depth information and answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about the keyboard.

QWERTY keyboard layout

Below is a close up image of a QWERTY computer keyboard with each of the keys selectable. You may hover your mouse cursor over any of the keys to see a description. Clicking any of the keys opens a new page with full details.

Laptop keyboards

A laptop keyboard is arranged differently than a desktop keyboard to accommodate the laptop's narrower footprint. Most laptop keyboards are made smaller by placing the keys closer and by including an Fn key. The Fn key is used in conjunction with other keys to perform special functions. For example, pressing the Fn key and the up or down arrow on the keyboard shown below, increases and decreases the screen brightness. Furthermore, many laptop keyboards omit the numeric keypad to save space.

Why is the keyboard an input device?

A computer keyboard is considered an input device because it only sends data to a computer and does not receive any information back.

What are multimedia keys?

Multimedia keys are those keys which allow the user to control music on their computer keyboard. These keys add functionality such as play, pause, stop, rewind, fast-forward, skip track, eject, shuffle, and repeat.

Alphanumeric keyboard

The alphanumeric keyboard is the primary portion of the keyboard that contains letters, numbers, punctuation, and some of the symbol keys. Today, most users use a QWERTY style keyboards, as shown in the below illustration. You can tell if you are using a QWERTY keyboard by looking at the first six letters to see if they spell "QWERTY."

Control and toggle keys

The control keys or toggle keys give the user additional control over text manipulation and cursor placement. They may also be used as shortcut keys in many programs.

Short for control, Ctrl is a modifier key found on IBM compatible computer keyboards in the bottom left and right portion of the main keyboard.

Where is the Ctrl key on the keyboard?

Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the Ctrl keys highlighted in blue.

Ctrl keyboard shortcuts

Ctrl is used in keyboard shortcut keys, such as the three finger salute or Ctrl+Alt+Del. This key combination suggests pressing and holding down the Ctrl, Alt, and Del keyboard keys to open the Task Manager or reboot the computer.

Below are the top uses for each of the keys when used in combination with the Ctrl key.

WEB_List of Shortcuts_2020

Function keys

The function keys or F1 through F12 keys are used in programs as shortcut keys to performed frequently performed tasks. For example, the F1 key is the key to open the online help for most programs.


  • Used as the help key in almost every program. Opens a help screen when this key is pressed.

  • Windows Key + F1 would open the Microsoft Windows help and support center.

  • Open the Task Pane.


  • In Microsoft Windows, renames a highlighted icon, file, or folder in all versions of Windows.

  • In Microsoft Excel, edits the active cell.

  • Alt+Ctrl+F2 opens document window in Microsoft Word.

  • Ctrl+F2 displays the print preview window in Microsoft Word.

  • Rename a selected file or folder.


  • Often opens a search feature for many programs, including Microsoft Windows when at the Windows desktop.

  • In some programs, after an initial search is performed, F3 finds the next search value.

  • In MS-DOS or Windows command line, F3 repeats the last command entered.

  • In Microsoft Word Ctrl+F3 lowercases any highlighted text.

  • Shift+F3 changes the text in Microsoft Word from upper to lowercase or a capital letter at the beginning of every word.

  • Windows Key + F3 opens the Advanced find window in Microsoft Outlook.

  • In Windows Explorer, start the search function.


  • Open find window in Windows 95 to XP.

  • Open the address bar in Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer.

  • Repeat the last action performed (Word 2000+).

  • Alt+F4 closes the program window currently active in Microsoft Windows.

  • Ctrl+F4 closes the open window or tab in the active window in Microsoft Windows.


  • In all modern Internet browsers, pressing F5 refreshes or reloads the page or document window.

  • Ctrl+F5 forces a complete refresh of the web page, clearing the cache and downloading all contents of the page again.

  • Refresh the list of contents in a folder.

  • Open the find, replace, and go to window in Microsoft Word.

  • Starts a slideshow in PowerPoint.


  • Move the cursor to the address bar in Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and most other Internet browsers.

  • Ctrl+Shift+F6 opens to another open Microsoft Word document.

  • Reduce laptop speaker volume (on some laptops).


  • Commonly used to spell check and grammar check a document in Microsoft programs such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, etc.

  • Shift+F7 runs a Thesaurus check on the word highlighted.

  • Increase laptop speaker volume (on some laptops).


  • Function key used to enter the Windows startup menu, commonly used to access Windows Safe Mode.

  • Used by some computers to access the Windows recovery system, but may require a Windows installation CD.


  • Refresh document in Microsoft Word.

  • Send and receive e-mail in Microsoft Outlook.

  • Reduce laptop screen brightness (on some laptops).


  • In Microsoft Windows, activates the menu bar of an open application.

  • Shift+F10 is the same as right-clicking on a highlighted icon, file, or Internet link.

  • Increase laptop screen brightness (on some laptops).


  • Enter and exit fullscreen mode in all modern Internet browsers.

  • Ctrl+F11 as the computer is starting to access the hidden recovery partition on many Dell computers.


  • Open the Save as window in Microsoft Word.

  • Ctrl+F12 opens a document in Word.

  • Shift+F12 saves the Microsoft Word document (like Ctrl+S).

  • Ctrl+Shift+F12 prints a document in Microsoft Word.

  • Access the list of bootable devices on a computer at startup, allowing you to select a different device to boot from (e.g., hard drive, CD or DVD drive, floppy drive, USB drive, and network).

On some keyboards, the function keys may be used to activate additional functions on a computer. Used in combination with the Fn key, the function keys can activate other functions, like changing screen brightness, accessing media controls, or turning off the computer.


  • On this page practice using your trackpad to left and right click

  • What happens when you left click?

  • What happens when you right click?

  • How do you scroll up and down on this page


Don't be a CRAZY CLICKER!​

After you click/press...WAIT! To see if the computer responds!

Do not use pens or pencils on a trackpad!​

Do NOT bang the trackpad! If you are having trouble with your mouse, ask for help! Your computer and trackpad are sensitive and can break!​

Do you know all about using your trackpad? Do you prefer using a mouse?