What is F1?


Updated: 12/31/2020 by Computer Hope

The F1 key is a function key found at the top of almost all computer keyboards. The key is most often used to open the help for the operating system or the active running program. F1 also has other uses depending on the computer and program, as mentioned below.

How to use the F1 key

Open the program that uses the key and press F1. If the F1 key also has an icon on the key, it indicates the key has a secondary function. To use the secondary function, press and hold down the Fn key, and while continuing to hold the key, press F1.

If when pressing the F1 key the secondary function is performed (e.g., mutes audio), the function keys are the secondary function. For example, on an Apple computer, to press F1, hold down the fn key, and press F1.


If the FnLk (function lock) is enabled, the keyboard acts as if the Fn key is being pressed until it is unlocked.

Information about what the secondary function may be is found on the below secondary function of F1 section.

Where is the F1 key used?

The following list is all of the locations the F1 key can be used with information about how it’s used.

Open help with all programs

With almost every program, this key functions as a help key. When F1 is pressed, a help screen window in the program is opened, or you’ll be directed to a help web page on the Internet. Some programs without a help option may open the About screen.


In the latest versions of Microsoft Windows, you can also press the Windows key+F1 would open the Microsoft Windows help and support center.

Microsoft Excel

In Excel, press Alt+Shift+F1 to create a new worksheet tab.

Enter BIOS setup

On many PCs, as the computer is booting, you’ll see an option to press the F1 key to enter setup. Pressing F1 when this message is displayed enters the BIOS or CMOS setup.

Other F1 uses

The secondary function of F1

For laptop keyboards and desktop computer keyboards with the Fn key, each function key has two functions. Unfortunately, there’s no standard to what each key uses as its secondary function, so every keyboard is different. Below is a list of different keyboards and their secondary function for the F1 key.

Apple keyboard F1 key

On Apple keyboards, the default F1 key primary function decreases the screen’s brightness. Pressing the fn+F1 for the secondary function is F1.

Cooler Master keyboard F1 key

On Cooler Master desktop keyboards, the F1 secondary function is one of the following options depending on the model.

  • With a single-color keyboard backlight keyboard, FN+F1 enables and disables the backlight.
  • With a multiple backlight colors (RGB) keyboard, FN+F1 changes the colors.

Dell keyboard F1 key

On Dell laptop keyboards, the F1 key secondary function is to mute and unmute the volume.

HP keyboard F1 key

On Hewlett-Packard laptop keyboards with a question mark on the F1 key, the secondary F1 function opens help for the laptop.

Lenovo ThinkPad F1 key

On the IBM and Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards with a line through a speaker symbol, the F1 key secondary function is to mute and unmute the volume.

Logitech keyboard F1 key

On Logitech keyboards with a home symbol on the key, the F1 key secondary function opens the default browser home page.

Microsoft Surface F1 key

On the Microsoft Surface laptops, the F1 key secondary function is to decrease the screen brightness.

Below are links to related keyboard shortcuts and individual key pages.

Fn, Function keys, Keyboard, Keyboard terms

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