One of the features I missed greatly on my full size desktop keyboard is the easy-access function keys (F1 to F12). Fortunately both the Type Cover and Touch Cover keyboards for the Microsoft Surface has them. Unfortunately, they are only accessible by a key combination of “Fn” and one of the keys on the top row. This can be cumbersome and frustrating for those who are used to full desktop keyboards and uses the function keys a lot. Alas, Microsoft has a solution for those function key aficionados.
If you use these keys often, you can ‘lock’ them as function keys by pressing “Fn+Caps” together. This causes the top row of keys to work as function keys without having to hold down the “Fn” key every time. To release and toggle the top row of keys back to normal, press “Fn+Caps” again.
The feature is awesome for those that are used to the function keys and use it a lot. What makes it even better is that it is not temporary like “Caps Lock.” Pressing “Fn+Caps” will hold the function keys through sleep, hibernation, power off, reset, and even pulling the Type Cover or Touch Cover keyboard off. This makes me believe that the function is a Windows 8 feature and not a Type Cover keyboard feature.
Why is this a big deal? The function keys allow for quick keyboard shortcut and come in really handy in many applications. For example, here are what the function keys can do for you in the modern version of Internet Explorer (function key shortcuts for the desktop version is slightly different).
|F1||Bring up Internet Explorer Help in a new tab|
|F3||Find text in web page|
|F4||Bring up the address bar and Frequent tabs|
|F5||Refresh the web page|
|F6||Highlight the address bar (press space bar afterwards to bring it up)|
|F7||Start Caret Browsing (What is Caret Browsing?)(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caret_navigation)|
|F10||Bring up address bar and Tabs|
|Shift+F10||When highlighting a link, bring up a shortcut menu for a link (same as right-clicking on a link with a mouse)|
|Ctrl+F4||Close current tab|
|Alt+F4||Close current application|
|…and more||For more Internet Explorer keyboard shortcuts, click here.|
As you can see, having single key press for some of these frequent operations can help you be more efficient in your everyday tasks and be more productive. There are a similar number of shortcuts for many applications, especially the Microsoft Office Suite.
So what do you think? How much do you use the function keys?