How to change the behavior of function keys on your Mac

Use the top row of keys on your keyboard to perform built-in features or as standard function keys.

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 through 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. 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. From the View menu, choose Keyboard.
  3. Click the Keyboard tab if it is not already selected
  4. Enable "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys."

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

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