Special Keys

Posted on Multiply Jan. 13, 2009, 10:52 PM

F1 to F12 – Function keys. They perform different functions according to the environment in which they are invoked. In general, the following holds true (specifically, for the Windows operating system; some keys may do different functions in different operating systems):

F1 – Help. When pressed, this key invokes a help file of the operating system or the application’s own help file (if there is).
F2 – Renames a file
F3 – When focus is on the desktop or the Windows File Explorer, causes the search dialog to be invoked (which lets you search for files stored on your computer or in the network to which your computer is connected).
F4 – In Windows File Explorer, displays the pop-down list of the address bar. When combined with ALT, causes the closure of the program in which it was invoked. When pressed while focus is on the desktop, ALT+F4 causes the operating system to display a window asking the user if he/she wants to shut down the computer, put it into standby (or sleep in Vista) mode or restart the computer. Of course, your mileage may vary; e.g. in Linux Mint, this summons a window asking the user if he/she wants to shut down the computer, restart it, put it into sleep or hibernate mode, or lock the screen.
F5 – If focus is on the desktop, it causes the desktop to refresh. If focus is on applications, the action may vary. E.g., F5, when pressed in MS Powerpoint, causes the powerpoint to be viewed in a slide show tarting from the very first slide. Pressing SHIFT+F5 in the same application, meanwhile, causes the powerpoint to be presented in a slide show with the present slide being edited as being shown. Meanwhile, when pressed on an internet browser such as Firefox, causes the current page to be reloaded.
F6 – When focus is on an open Windows File Explorer window, emulates the TAB key and causes the appearance of a dotted(?) box which highlights links. Subsequent presses causes forward traversal among the links.
F7 – When focus is on the Firefox browser, causes the appearance of a dialog box asking the user if he/she wants to activate caret browsing.
F8 – When booting up, pressing F8 just before the operating system causes the computer to show which operating systems are installed (in case of dual-boot or multiboot computers) or other options valid for the specific operating system installed (in case of computers with a single operating system installed). This may vary in other applications.
F9 – Causes the first element listed in Windows File Explorer to be selected.
F10 – Emulates the ALT button in Windows File Explorer and causes the menus to be highlighted. Pressing the arrow keys after this key is pressed enables the user to traverse through these menus with the keyboard.
F11 – Causes applications (in general) to be displayed in full screen.
F12 – In some word processors, causes the file written to be saved in another name (in effect, another file)

Other Special Keys:
CTRL – when pressed on its own, if “Show cursor when CTRL is pressed” or something similar is activated (in the User Preferences), causes circumcentric circles to appear where the cursor is. In combination with other keys, it does things which depends on the application where the key combinations are pressed. For example, it causes a CLI-based application to terminate when it is combined with C or Z. When the combination CTRL+ALT+DEL is pressed, it may cause the Windows Task Manager to appear or a dialog box containing the same elements shown when ALT+F4 is pressed. Other combinations are possible: in Firefox, pressing CTRL+W causes the current tab to be closed, CTRL+T to open a new tab, CTRL+R to reload the current page (similar to when F5 is pressed on a web browser).
ALT – In its own, enables the user to traverse through menus of an application. In combination in other keys, causes different actions depending on which application the key combination was invoked: pressing ALT+F4 in an open window closes the window; pressing ALT+F4 on the desktop causes a dialog box to appear (see F4 or CTRL entry); pressing ALT+TAB enables the user to switch through open windows forward (pressing SHIFT+ALT+TAB enables the user to switch through open windows backwards).
DEL – In its own, causes a selected to be put into Trash or deleted permanently (depending on the settings) in Windows File Explorer; on a text processor, causes the file after the cursor to be deleted. In combination with other keys, causes other things depending on which environment or application the key combination was invoked: for example, pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL in the desktop summons a dialog box (see F4 and CTRL); in an internet browser, causes the browser to ask the user through a dialog box if he/she wants to clear the browser’s cache, delete stored passwords, and other options.
ESC – Can cause an application to exit or stop execution (depending on which application). Causes common dialog boxes to exit. When ALT has been pressed, ESC causes the function executed by ALT to exit and return control to the application to which ALT was pressed. When pressed in combination with CTRL, it displays the Start Menu items as if the user had clicked the Start button in Windows systems, or it may cause the System Monitor (equivalent to the Windows Task Manager) to pop up in KDE-based Linux distributions.
TAB KEY – In Windows File Explorer or desktop, subsequent presses enable the user to navigate through files (and the taskbar and iconified windows if focus is on the desktop). In text processors, causes the tab character (defined as ‘\t’ in programming) to be inserted, moving the block of text to the right of the cursor n spaces (n depends on the settings). In combination with other keys, performs other tasks: ALT+TAB displays open windows (how they are displayed depends on the operating system) (see ALT), CTRL+TAB traverses open tabs in internet browsers like Firefox and Opera (CTRL+SHIFT+TAB does this backwards).
SHIFT KEY – In text processors and applications that uses user actions as input, causes the following to happen:
a. if a character is pressed, its uppercase version is displayed if CAPS LOCK key is not pressed; else it returns the upper case of the upper case letter, i.e. it returns the lower case of the letter being pressed.
b. if numbers and symbols are pressed in combination with this key, it displays the symbol above the key printed in the keyboard, i.e. pressing SHIFT+5 displays the percent key. This also depends on the key layout; i.e. since Dvorak keyboards have different layout compared to QWERTY keyboards, it prints a different character.
c. if this key is pressed in combination with special keys like the function keys, it performs the associated action. For example, pressing SHIFT+F5 in MS Powerpoint causes the slides to be presented in a slide show, the current slide being edited as the current slide (see F5).
Note: pressing SHIFT five times anywhere causes Windows to ask you if you want to activate Sticky Keys.
BACKSPACE KEY – In text processors, pressing this key causes the character to the left of the cursor to be deleted. In other programs, it performs other functions in combination with other keys. For instance, pressing SHIFT+DEL when a file is selected asks the user if he/she wants the file to be permanently deleted.
CAPS LOCK KEY – when this key is pressed, it causes they keyboard to be fixed in a mode in which all alphabetic characters to be inputted returns its uppercase value. When SHIFT key is pressed while this key is enabled, the key pressed will return a lowercase character if it is an alphabetic character and the character printed above the key in the keyboard if numbers and symbols are pressed.
SCROLL LOCK KEY – one of the ‘useless’ keys. According to Wikipedia, “In the original design, scroll lock was intended to modify the behavior of the arrow keys. When the scroll lock mode was on, the arrow keys would scroll the contents of a text window instead of moving the cursor. In this usage, scroll lock is a modifier key like Alt and Shift (which modify the function of other keys) and, more specifically, a toggling lock key like Num Lock or Caps Lock, which have a state that persists after the key is released.”
HOME – brings the cursor to the beginning of the current line in text processors. Brings the cursor to the beginning of the document if CTRL+HOME is pressed.

For clarification about shortcut keys, they can be user-set or set by default by the program (this statement is very applicable to games). As examples, here are my mostly-used shortcut keys:

General Usage:
CTRL+ALT+DEL – brings up the Windows Task Manager in order for me to kill the misbehaving application, show RAM and CPU usage, etc.
ALT+F4 – closes the focused instance of an application to close.
CTRL+ESC – emulates the user clicking the Start Menu button.
SHIFT+DEL – enables me to delete files permanently (curse the Trash)
ALT+TAB – switches through open windows.
F1 – opens an application’s help file (if there is any)
F2 – renames the currently selected file
CTRL+A – Select all text or select all files
CTRL+ALT+D – Iconifies all open windows and shows the desktop (in Linux Mint)
F5 – Refreshes the desktop

In Internet browsing:
CTRL+TAB – opens a new tab
CTRL+ESC – traverses through open tabs
CTRL+W – closes the current tab
CTRL+Q – closes the browser
CTRL+L or F6 – brings focus to the address bar in order for me to type a new web address
CTRL+ENTER –  if a string is typed into the browser’s address bar, say google, pressing this after causes the strings “http://www.” and “.com” to be prepended and appended respectively to the typed string. If you want .org to be inputted instead of .com, press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER; for .net, press SHIFT+ENTER.
F5 – Refreshes the current page
F7 – Turns on/off caret browsing

In text processors (or command line interface):
HOME – brings the cursor to the beginning of the current line. Combine with CTRL, and it brings the cursor to the beginning of the document. (Counterparts: END and CTRL+END)
CTRL+S – Saves the file
CTRL+SHIFT+S – Saves the file in a different name (note: not all processors support this, e.g. MS Word)
CTRL+O – Open new file
F12 – another shortcut for CTRL+SHIFT+S

In GCC (GNU C Compiler)
F9 – Compile program
CTRL+F9 – Save, compile, and run program
*Shortcut keys used on text processors

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jocomo wrote on Jan 13
_ _ _ _ _, happy new year!

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