Functions of Keyboard Keys & Its Shortcuts

It is important for every frequent user of a computer that they know about the functions of the keys of a computer keyboard along with the shortcut keys.

The keyboard shortcuts are typically a combination of two or more keys that invokes a command in an operating system or software. With the use of a few keystrokes you can increase your productivity.

Since the keyboard is the most common input device of a computer, knowing about all the keys is essential. The keys of the keyboard and its shortcuts will save you from the hassle of using the mouse or accessing the menu frequently.


  • A standard computer keyboard comes with different types of keys such as alphabet keys, number keys, numeric and logical keys, functional keys, multimedia keys, internet keys, and aero keys.
  • There are also special keys on a computer motherboard for performing specific functions such as caps lock, number lock, scroll lock, enter key, shift key, control key, alt key, space bar, backspace, tab, pause, print screen, insert, delete, escape, home, page up, page down, Windows and end key.
  • Most of the alphabet keys are used in combination with one or two other keys to perform shortcut functions.

The Functions of Keyboard Keys and Its Shortcuts

Functions of Keyboard Keys

You can communicate with your computer with every keystroke made on the keyboard.

However, these keys do not only represent characters but also give specific commands to the software program when specific keys are pressed, either solo or in combination.

In order to know about all the functions of the keys of your keyboard, you will need to know about the layout first.

Considering that you are using a standard, full size, QWERTY keyboard, you will find that there are more than a hundred keys on it.

Some of these have single impressions while a few others have two impressions, and each of these have different functions to perform.

Typically, the keys of a standard computer keyboard can be classified into eight different heads such as:

  • The alphabet keys
  • The functional keys
  • The number keys
  • The numeric and logical keys
  • The aero keys
  • The multimedia keys
  • The internet keys and
  • The special keys.

Though the basic keys, such as the alphabets and a few others, are located in the space in all keyboards, the other keys may not have the same location. It all depends on the design of the keyboard.

However, here is the list of all the keys of a computer keyboard along with their functions and shortcut keys compiled just for you.

Functions of Keyboard Key

Alphabet Keys:

The alphabetic keys on the keyboard match the layout of a standard typewriter and include all 26 English alphabets from A to Z.

Number Keys:

The number keys are positioned on the top of the alphabetic keys, usually in the second row of the keyboard.

These keys include numbers 0 to 9. However, these keys also have punctuations and special characters marked on top that can be printed by pressing a key and the SHIFT key simultaneously.

There are different special characters marked and all may not be on top of the number keys.

However, the list of special characters marked on different keys of a keyboard includes:

  • |- vertical bar
  • / – forward slash
  • \ – Backslash
  • ? – question mark
  • . – period/dot
  • , – comma
  • ’ – single quote/apostrophe
  • ” = double-quote

Ø – greater than

  • < – less than
  • ; – semi-colon
  • : – colon
  • [ – open/left bracket
  • ] – close/right bracket
  • { – open/left brace and
  • } – close/right bracket.

Aero Keys:

You will find these keys placed at the right side of the alphabetic keys. This is a group of 4 keys such as:

  • The left arrow key
  • The right arrow key
  • The top arrow key and
  • The down arrow key.

Numeric and Logical Keys:

These keys are located at the extreme right side of the keyboard chassis on normal keyboards.

There are ten number keys from 0 to 9 positioned just like a calculator or a telephone dial pad but it is upside down.

There are also 4 arithmetic functions or logical keys for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

This is called the numeric keypad which can also be used to control the cursor. All you have to do is toggle the NUM LOCK key to use it as a cursor control pad.

Function Keys:

The function or functional keys are usually located at the top of the keyboard chassis.

Just as the name signifies, the function keys serve different functions both alone as well as in combination with some other keys of the keyboard.

As of now, there are 12 such keys available that are marked from F1 to F12 and each has different functions to perform such as:


This key with Windows key opens the Help menu.


In MS-Excel, this key edits the active cell.

In MS-Word, pressing Ctrl + F2 together displays a print preview.

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In MS-DOS, this function key repeats the last command.

In Windows Explorer, the key opens a search feature.

In MS Word, Ctrl+F3 lowercases the highlighted text and Shift+F3 changes the highlighted text from upper case to lowercase or changes the beginning letter of every word of the highlighted text to a capital letter.


Pressing the Alt+F4 keys together closes a currently active program in Microsoft Windows. Ctrl+F4 acts as a shortcut key usually to close a window or tab within a program.


This key refreshes or reloads a page or a document window.

And, pressing Ctrl+F5 keys together refresh a web page and clear the cache.

In MS-PowerPoint it starts a slideshow.


Pressing Ctrl+Shift+F6 is used to switch between word documents.


The F7 key is used to check spell and grammar in MS Word and Outlook and also to view the history of all of the commands entered in a window.


This key enters Windows startup menu that is usually used to access Windows Safe Mode.

In macOS, it displays a thumbnail image of the workspaces.


It refreshes a document in MS-Word.

It is also used to send and receive emails in MS Outlook.


It is used to enter BIOS setup when the computer is booting.

Ctrl + F10 maximize the window in MS-Word.


Ctrl+F11 helps in accessing the hidden recovery partition on several computers.


In MS-Word, Ctrl+F12 opens a document, Shift+F12 saves the document, and Ctrl+Shift+F12 prints the document.

On many computers this key is used to Get to Boot Menu.

Special Keys and Their Functions:

  • Scroll Lock – It locks scrolling through a page of text on single tap and double tapping on it unlocks it.
  • Caps Lock – A single tap locks the alphabetic keys to uppercase characters and double tap unlocks it.
  • Num Lock – It activates the numbers on the number pad in a single tap and locks them on the second. When the key is not pressed only the arrow keys and the special keys on the number keypad are active.
  • Shift key – It is used to toggle between uppercase and lowercase characters. On international keyboards, the Shift key is used to access special characters of the keys that have two characters marked on them.
  • Enter key – This key is widely used on the keyboard. It performs different functions such as going to the next line when a line ends, opening an application software, or as a trigger to shoot an object in a game. In word processors, it also imitates the function of the carriage return button found in an electric typewriter.
  • Space bar – This is the longest key on a keyboard which is also used frequently to produce a single character of white space. It is therefore also known as the white space key.
  • Backspace key – This key erases the previous character by replacing it with the following character or a white space.
  • Ctrl key – This key is usually used for different shortcut operations.
  • Alt key – This key is also used for different shortcut operations.
  • Tab key – This key is used to move between items or move forward by 5 characters. By default, this key produces a white space of half an inch.
  • Print Screen SysRq key – It captures the image of the content on the computer screen. It is typically used to take screenshots.
  • Pause Break key – In its default mode, this key pauses the display or the action of an application program. When it is used with CTRL key, the alternate mode halts or interrupts a few software programs such as MS-DOS commands and a few applications.
  • Esc key – This is called the Escape key which is used to exit in most software applications. When it is used in combination with other keys it creates special key values or to specify other actions.
  • Insert key – This key enables switching between two typing modes. One mode is where the typed subject appears in front of the cursor and pushes the rest of it that follows. The other mode is when the typed subject replaces the text that is to the right side of the cursor.
  • Delete key – It is used to delete a text, file, media, or any content.
  • Home key – It returns the text cursor to the opening of a line on which you are typing currently. It can also move the cursor start of a document or cell.
  • Page Up – This key is used to scroll or move up one page if your document contains more than one page.
  • Page Down – It does just the opposite of above, moving a page down when pressed.
  • End key – It moves the cursor to the end of the line it is in.
  • Windows key – These keys are on either side of the space bar and serve as shortcuts to Windows menu.

Multimedia Key:

These keys perform a few specific entertainment functions. However, these keys may not be included in a standard 104-key keyboard.

These keys include Play/Pause, Mute, Music Media Player, and Volume+ or Volume-.

Internet Key:

This key is very special and allows accessing Internet Explorer easily.

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Common Control Key Shortcuts:

  • Ctrl+A – Select all text or objects
  • Ctrl+B – Bold highlighted text
  • Ctrl+C – Copy selected text or object
  • Ctrl+D – Bookmark an open font window or a web page
  • Ctrl+E – Center text
  • Ctrl+F – Open Find window
  • Ctrl+G – Open Find in a word processors and browser
  • Ctrl+H – Open Find and Replace in Microsoft Word, Notepad, and WordPad
  • Ctrl+I – Italicize text
  • Ctrl+J – Justify alignment in Ms-Word and view downloads in browsers
  • Ctrl+K – Create hyperlink for highlighted text in Microsoft Word and several HTML editors
  • Ctrl+L – Select address bar in a browser or left align text in Word
  • Ctrl+M – Indent selected text and other programs in Word processor
  • Ctrl+N – Create new document or page
  • Ctrl+O – Open a file
  • Ctrl+P – Open Print window to print the current page
  • Ctrl+R – Reload page in browser or right align text in Word
  • Ctrl+S – Save a file or a document
  • Ctrl+T – Create a new tab in internet browser or adjust tabs in Word
  • Ctrl+U – Underline selected text
  • Ctrl+V – Paste copied text or object
  • Ctrl+W – Close open tab in a browser or a document in MS-Word
  • Ctrl+X – Cut selected text or object
  • Ctrl+Y – For redo or repeat clear action
  • Ctrl+End – To move cursor to the end of a document and not the line
  • Ctrl+Z – To undo typing
  • Ctrl+Esc – To open Windows Start menu
  • Ctrl+Tab – Switch between tabs that are open in browser or other programs
  • Ctrl+Shift+Tab – Go backwards
  • Ctrl+Shift+Z – Redo
  • Ctrl+[ – Reduce font size
  • Ctrl+] – Increase font size
  • Ctrl+= Toggle font subscript
  • Ctrl+Shift+= Toggle font superscript
  • Ctrl+End – Go to bottom or end of document or window
  • Ctrl+Home – Go to top of document or window
  • Ctrl+Insert – Copy
  • Ctrl+PgDn – Next tab
  • Ctrl+PgUp – Previous tab
  • Ctrl+Tab ↹ – Next tab or window
  • Ctrl+Shift+Tab ↹ – Previous tab or window
  • Ctrl+← – Go to previous word
  • Ctrl+→ – Go to next word
  • Ctrl+Delete – To delete next word
  • Ctrl+Backspace – To delete previous word
  • Ctrl+Alt+Backspace – Restart X11
  • Ctrl+Alt+↑ – Rotate right-side of screen up
  • Ctrl+Alt+↓ – Rotate screen upside down
  • Ctrl+Alt+← – Rotate screen left
  • Ctrl+Alt+→ – Rotate screen right
  • Ctrl+Shift+Esc – To open task manager
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del – Reboot.

Microsoft Windows Shortcut Keys:

Different programs may have different functions for the same type of short cut keys. Here are the few common shortcut keys for Microsoft Windows:

  • Alt + Tab – Switch forwards between open apps
  • Alt + Shift + Tab  – Switch backward between open app
  • Alt + Print Screen – Create screenshot
  • Ctrl + Alt + Del Reboot or open Windows task manager.
  • Ctrl + Esc – Bring start menu up
  • Alt + Esc – Switch between apps in taskbar
  • F2 – Rename any selected icon
  • F3 – Start find from desktop
  • F4 – Open drive selection while browsing
  • F5 – Refresh
  • Alt + F4  Close current program
  • Ctrl + F4 – Close window
  • Ctrl + Plus Key – Adjust widths automatically for all columns in Windows Explorer
  • Alt + Enter – Open properties of selected program or icon
  • Shift + F10 – Simulate right-click
  • Shift + Del – Delete files or programs permanently
  • Holding Shift during Boot up – Bypass system files or boot in safe mode or prevent CD Player from playing.

Microsoft Word Shortcut Keys:

Quite a few of these shortcuts used in Microsoft Word may be same as others but these are the most common ones used here.

  • Ctrl + A – Select all contents of a page
  • Ctrl + B – Bold selection
  • Ctrl + C – Copy selection
  • Ctrl + X – Cut selection
  • Ctrl + N – Open new or blank document
  • Ctrl + O – Open
  • Ctrl + P – Open print window
  • Ctrl + F – Open Find box
  • Ctrl + I – Italicize selection
  • Ctrl + K – Insert link
  • Ctrl + U – Underline selection
  • Ctrl + V – Paste
  • Ctrl + Y – Redo last action
  • Ctrl + Z – Undo last action
  • Ctrl + G – Go To in Find box
  • Ctrl + H — Find and replace
  • Ctrl + J – Justify alignment of a paragraph
  • Ctrl + L – Align selected text left
  • Ctrl + Q – Align selected paragraph left
  • Ctrl + E – Align selected text center
  • Ctrl + R – Align selected text right
  • Ctrl + M – Indent a paragraph
  • Ctrl + T – Hanging indent
  • Ctrl + D – Font options
  • Ctrl + Shift + F – Change font
  • Ctrl + Shift + > – Increase selected font +1
  • Ctrl + ] – Increase selected font +1
  • Ctrl + [ – Reduce selected font -1
  • Ctrl + Shift + * – View or hide non-printing characters
  • Ctrl + (Left arrow) – Move one word left
  • Ctrl + (Right arrow) – Move one word right
  • Ctrl + (Up arrow) – Move to the starting line or paragraph
  • Ctrl + (Down arrow) – Move to the end of paragraph
  • Ctrl + Del – Delete word o the right side of the cursor
  • Ctrl + Backspace – Delete word on the left side of the cursor
  • Ctrl + End – Move cursor to end of document
  • Ctrl + Home – Move cursor to the beginning of document
  • Ctrl + Space – Reset selected text to default font
  • Ctrl + 1 – Single-space lines
  • Ctrl + 2 – Double-space lines
  • Ctrl + 5 – 1.5 line spacing
  • Ctrl + Alt + 1 – Change text to heading 1
  • Ctrl + Alt + 2 – Change text to heading 2
  • Ctrl + Alt + 3 – Change text to heading 3
  • F1 – Open Help
  • Shift + F3 – Change case
  • Shift + Insert – Paste
  • F4 – Repeat the last action
  • F7 – Spell check
  • Shift + F7 – Activate thesaurus
  • F12 – Save as
  • Ctrl + S – Save
  • Shift + F12 – Save
  • Alt + Shift + D – Insert current date
  • Alt + Shift + T – Insert the current time
  • Ctrl + W – Close document.
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Other Common Keyboard Shortcuts:

There are a few other shortcut keys that you can use by pressing the WINDOWS key in particular along with other keys. These are:

  • Windows – Open or close Start menu
  • Windows key + A – Open Action center
  • Windows key + C – Open Cortana
  • Windows key + D – Display or hide desktop
  • Windows key + E – Open File Explorer
  • Windows key + F – Display Windows Search or Find feature
  • Windows key + G – Open Game bar
  • Windows key + H – Open Share charm
  • Windows key + I – Open Settings
  • Windows key + K – Open Connect quick action
  • Windows key + L – Lock PC or switch accounts
  • Windows key + M – Minimize all windows
  • Windows key + R – Open Run dialog box
  • Windows key + S – Open Search
  • Windows key + U – Open Ease of Access Center
  • Windows key + X – Open Quick Link menu
  • Windows key + Number – Open pinned app to the taskbar in the place pointed out by the number
  • Windows key + Left arrow key – Snap app windows left
  • Windows key + Right arrow key – Snap app windows right
  • Windows key + Up arrow key – Maximize app windows
  • Windows key + Down arrow key – Minimize app windows
  • Windows key + Comma – Peek at desktop temporarily
  • Windows key + Ctrl + D – Add  virtual desktop
  • Windows key + Ctrl + Left or Right arrow – Switch virtual desktops
  • Windows key + Ctrl + F4 – Close current virtual desktop
  • Windows key + Enter – Open Narrator
  • Windows key + Home – Minimize all but the active desktop window and restore on second tapping
  • Windows key + PrtScn – Take screenshot.
  • Windows key + Tab – Switch open programs on taskbar
  • Windows key + CTRL + F – Display search for computers window
  • Windows key + F1 – Display Microsoft Windows help
  • Windows key + Pause /Break – Open system properties window.

Excel Shortcut Keys:

Here are a few common shortcut keys used in MS Excel:

  • F2 – Edit selected cell
  • F5 – Go to a definite cell
  • F7 – Spell check
  • F11 – Create chart
  • Ctrl + Shift + ; – Enter current time
  • Ctrl + ; – Enter the current date
  • Alt + Shift + F1 – Insert new worksheet
  • Shift + F3 – Open Excel formula
  • Shift + F5 – Open search box
  • Ctrl + A – Select all contents
  • Ctrl + B – Bold selection
  • Ctrl + I – Italicize selection
  • Ctrl + C — Copy selection
  • Ctrl + V – Paste
  • Ctrl + D – Fill
  • Ctrl + K – Insert link
  • Ctrl + F – Open find and replace
  • Ctrl + G – Open Go To
  • Ctrl + H – Open find and replace
  • Ctrl + U – Underline selection
  • Ctrl + Y – Undo
  • Ctrl + 5 – Strikethrough selection
  • Ctrl + O – Open
  • Ctrl + N – Open new document
  • Ctrl + P – Open print dialog box
  • Ctrl + S – Save
  • Ctrl + Z – Undo last action
  • Ctrl + F9 – Minimize current window
  • Ctrl + F10 – Maximize current window
  • Ctrl + F6 – Switch between open windows or worksheets
  • Ctrl + Page up and Page Down – Move between worksheets in the same document
  • Ctrl + Tab – Move between two or more open files
  • Alt + = – Create formula to sum all above cells
  • Ctrl + – Insert value of above cell into current cell
  • Ctrl + Shift + ! – Format number in comma format
  • Ctrl + Shift + $ – Format number in currency format
  • Ctrl + Shift + # – Format number in date format
  • Ctrl + Shift + % – Format number in percentage format
  • Ctrl + Shift + ^ – Format number in scientific format
  • Ctrl + Shift + @ – Format number in time format
  • Ctrl + (Right arrow) – Move to next section
  • Ctrl + Space – Select entire column
  • Shift + Space – Select entire row
  • Ctrl + W – Close document.

Shortcut Keys for Outlook:

Here are a few shortcut keys that will simplify things when you send an email through Microsoft Outlook.

  • Alt + S – Send the email
  • Ctrl + C – Copy selection
  • Ctrl + X – Cut selection
  • Ctrl + P – Open print dialog box
  • Ctrl + K – Complete name or email in address bar
  • Ctrl + B – Bold selection
  • Ctrl + I – Italicize selection
  • Ctrl + U – Underline selection
  • Ctrl + R – Reply to email
  • Ctrl + F – Forward email
  • Ctrl + N – Create new email
  • Ctrl + Shift + A – Create new appointment to calendar
  • Ctrl + Shift + O – Open outbox
  • Ctrl + Shift + I – Open inbox
  • Ctrl + Shift + K – Add new task
  • Ctrl + Shift + C – Create new contact
  • Ctrl + Shift+ J – Create new journal entry.

So, make use of these shortcut keys from now on to complete your computing tasks with ease.


So, with that exhaustive list of different keys of a computer keyboard along with the functions and shortcuts, you now know how useful the keyboard can be.

If you remember these and use them often, you may not have to touch that mouse or track pad often as you did before reading this article.

About Taylor Swift

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift, a UOPEOPLE graduate is a freelance technology writer with in-depth knowledge about computers. She has an understanding of hardware and technology gained through over 10 years of experience. Follow Her at Linkedin

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