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Are Your Function Keys Not Working? Try this…

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If you recently bought a new computer, it’s likely that your Functions keys are reversed, broken, flipped, or whatever you want to call it.

The point is, you want your keys the opposite of what they currently are, and it’s a big deal…

I almost returned a BRAND NEW computer that I loved because my function keys were not working the way I want them to work and this is the first reason why your keyboard shortcuts might not be working.

For 5 other reasons why your keyboard shortcuts might not be working, see our guide here.


Dominant function keys or media keys?

To see which of your keys are currently dominant on your computer, simply:

  1. Fire up PowerPoint, Word or Excel
  2. Hit a naked F1 key on your keyboard (only touch the F1 key)
  3. Evaluate what pops up
Does hitting F1 on your keyboard open up the Help Menu or the Volume control on your computer?

If you get the Help menu, your Function keys are dominant (my personal preference and setup).

If you mute or unmute your computer (or had some other media function happen), your media keys are dominant.


Before you switch your functions keys...

Before you switch your setup and commit, here’s the main reason why new computers start with the new media key setup.

Most people barely use any keyboard shortcuts at all. They just don’t.

As a result, the trend appears to be making the media keys dominant on new keyboards. The manufacturers probably figure that it will encourage more people to start using them.

That said, if you are a keyboard jockey, spending the majority of your time at the office crunching Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint slides, this default setup will drive you nuts.

That’s because it complicates your basic keyboard shortcuts, like these ones:

  • Save As: F12
  • PowerPoint Selection Pane: ALT + F10
  • PowerPoint Rulers: ALT + SHIFT + F9
  • PowerPoint Grid Lines: ALT + F9

Note: Switching the setup of your function keys as described below has ZERO effect on your computer’s operating system. It’s simply a personal preference based on how you work best.


How to fix your function keys

Warning: To fix your functions keys, you’ll need to restart your computer and make some changes to your System BIOS.

As such, I recommend re-opening this page on a separate computer screen, such as an iPad, so you can follow along.

In a nutshell, these steps to fix your function keys are this (all detailed below):

  1. Restart your computer
  2. Interrupt your computer's normal startup (hit Enter at the launch screen)
  3. Enter your System BIOS
  4. Navigate to the Keyboard/Mouse setup
  5. Set the F1-F12 as the primary function keys
  6. Save and Exit

Step #1: Restart your computer to get at your BIOS

To inverse your Function keys, you first need to get to your System BIOS.

The only way to get there is to Restart your computer: Windows Button,  Power Options, Restart.

To restart your computer, hit the windows key, click the power icon and select reset

Step #2: Hit enter at your computer's launch screen

As your computer restarts, when you see your computer’s logo onscreen, hit Enter (or whatever it says to hit beneath the logo). On my Lenovo, it says: “To interrupt normal startup, press Enter”

Interrupt the normal setup of your computer by hitting Enter at the start up window

After hitting Enter, just sit tight for a second while the Startup Interrupt Menu loads.

Note: It might take you a couple of times to nail the timing (it took me three times). So if you miss it, don’t freak out…just restart your computer and try it again.


Step #3: Enter the BIOS Setup Utility

Once the Startup Interrupt Menu loads, hit F1 to enter the BIOS Setup utility.

If your startup menu is different than mine, just follow whatever prompt it gives you to get at your BIOS Setup Utility.

In the Startup Interrupt Menu, hit F1 to enter the BIOS Setup Utility

Don’t dally here either. This menu is on a timer that exits back to a normal computer startup. If you miss it the first time, take a deep breath and start over again with step #1.


Step #4: Navigate to the Keyboard/Mouse setup

To get to this setup, do the following:

  1. Hit the right arrow key to navigate to the Config tab
  2. Use the down arrow key to highlight Keyboard/Mouse and hit Enter.
In the Config menu, select the Keyboard / Mouse option to get at your function keys

Step #5: Set the F1-F12 as the primary Function keys

Within the dialog box that opens, navigate to the F1-F12 keys and just reverse whatever you have.

On my Lenovo computer, it is: F1-F12 as Primary Function [Enabled].

If you want the revers, you can disable the F1-F12 keys to set your media keys as the dominant keys.

In the keyboard mouse menu, Enable the F1 through F12 as Primary Function

Step #6: Save and Exit

With your Function keys now flipped, hit F10 to Save and Exit the BIOS utility.

Click Yes to confirm your BIOS setup configuration

Step #7: Double-check that everything is now as it should be

Once your computer restarts, open an Microsoft Office program like PowerPoint, and hit F12 for the Save As Dialog Box.

Hit F12 on your keyboard to double check that your function keys are now fixed

If hitting F12 opens the Save As dialog box, you are now all set up and ready to go.

If not, you probably just missed one of the steps above or didn’t save your setup.


Keyboard Shortcuts Not Working?

Inversed functions keys are just one of the reasons why your shortcuts might not be working.

To see other reasons why your shortcuts might not be working (and how to fix them) see the short video below or click here.


Conclusion

If you use A LOT of PowerPoint, Word and/or Excel, I highly recommend flipping your functions keys. That way you can take advantage of a number of useful keyboard shortcuts in these programs, like F12.

If you want to learn more about how to speed up everything you do in PowerPoint, including tips and tricks and shortcuts, you can learn more about our training courses here.

What's next?

Updated on September 27, 2019

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