Change the behavior of function keys on your Mac

You can use the top row of keys on your Apple keyboard as standard function keys or to control built-in Mac features.

If your Apple keyboard has icons printed on some of the keys on its top row, these keys can be used to perform the special features shown in each icon. They can also be used as standard function keys (F1–F12). 

The action performed by standard function keys varies depending on the app you're using, or depending on the keyboard shortcuts listed in the Keyboard & Mouse pane of System Preferences:

  • By default, pressing one of these keys performs the special feature indicated by the icon printed on the key. For example, pressing the keys with speaker icons adjusts the volume.
  • If you want to use one of these keys as a standard function key, hold the Fn key (usually in the lower-left corner of the keyboard) while pressing the function key. For example, pressing Fn-F10 (speaker icon) performs the function assigned to the F10 key instead of toggling mute on or off.

If you prefer the top row of keys to always behave as standard function keys without holding the Fn key:

  1. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  2. Click Keyboard.
  3. Click the Keyboard tab if it's not already highlighted.
  4. Select "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys"

With this option enabled, the keys on the top row act as standard function keys (F1–F12). To use a feature indicated by the icon printed on a key, hold Fn while pressing the key.

Mac notebook computers with Touch Bar

The Touch Bar on MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016) and MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) replaces the function keys at the top of your keyboard and gives you quick access to commands on your Mac. It changes automatically based on what you’re doing and apps that you’re using. 

If you need access to function keys (F1–F12), hold down the Function (fn) key at the bottom-left of your keyboard. Touch Bar changes to show the function buttons for you to select, and then it returns to its previous state when you release the Function key.

Learn more about using function keys on MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

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