Computer Keyboard Keys and Their Functions

The computer keyboard is made up of keys that represent the characters and symbols that can be inputted into the computer. There is no absolute right or wrong use of any given key, but some of the keys are more often pressed than others, depending on your job and/or task at hand. All these keys have their specific functions, with some being used for visual feedback to the user, while others aid in providing feedback via sound or vibration.

The following article will introduce you to the different keys used in a computer keyboard, as well as their functions.

Alphanumeric Keys

The alphanumeric keys are the ones that make up the majority of the keyboard. They are arranged in a QWERTY layout, which is the standard keyboard layout used worldwide. The QWERTY layout was created to prevent typewriter keys from jamming, and it has become the standard for all keyboards.

The alphanumeric keys include the letters A-Z and the numbers 0-9. These keys are used for typing out words, sentences, and numbers in documents and other applications.

Function Keys

Function keys are located at the top of the keyboard and are labeled F1-F12. These keys have different functions depending on the operating system and software being used. For example, pressing the F1 key on Windows opens the help center, while on Mac, it opens the help menu for the application in use.

Function keys can be used to perform specific tasks in different applications, such as opening a new tab in a web browser or launching a presentation in PowerPoint.

Numeric Keys

Numeric keys are the set of keys located on the right-hand side of a standard keyboard. These keys include the numbers 0-9, the decimal point key, and the plusminus, and multiply keys. Numeric keys are commonly used for entering numerical data, such as numbers or currency values, and for performing mathematical calculations.

The numeric keys are also known as the number pad or the ten-key pad. This is because the keys are arranged in a similar layout to a calculator, with the numbers 0-9 and mathematical operators in a grid pattern. This arrangement is designed to make it easy for users to quickly enter numerical data and perform calculations.

Navigation Keys

The navigation keys include the arrow keys, the Home key, the End key, the Page Up key, and the Page Down key. These keys are used to navigate through programs. For example, the arrow keys can be used to move the cursor, while the Page Up and Page Down keys can be used to scroll through web pages and documents.

Special Keys

Special keys are keys that perform unique functions. Below are examples of special keys with their functions respectively;

Escape key: The Escape (Esc) key is used to interrupt or cancel an operation, or to close a dialog box or menu.

Tab key: The Tab key is used to move the cursor to the next field or cell in a form or spreadsheet.

Shift key: The Shift key is used to capitalize letters, and to access alternate characters such as the exclamation point (!) or the dollar sign ($).

Caps Lock key: The Caps Lock key locks the keyboard in capital letters so that all subsequent keystrokes will be typed in uppercase.

Control key: The Control (Ctrl) key is used in combination with other keys to perform specific functions, such as copying and pasting text.

Alt key: The Alt key is used in combination with other keys to access menu items or perform other functions.

Windows key: The Windows key is used to access the Start menu in Windows-based operating systems.

Backspace key: The Backspace key is used to delete the character to the left of the cursor.

Delete key: The Delete key is used to delete the character to the right of the cursor.

Enter key: The Enter key is used to confirm a selection or complete a command.

Print Screen key: The Print Screen (PrtSc) key captures an image of the entire screen, which can then be pasted into another application or document.

Scroll Lock key: The Scroll Lock key is used to lock the scrolling function in a document or interface.

Media keys

Keyboard media keys are a set of special keys on a computer keyboard that allows users to control various media functions, such as playback, volume, and mute. These keys are designed to provide quick and easy access to media controls without the need to open a specific media application.

Common keyboard media keys include:

Play/pause: This key allows users to start or stop media playback, such as music or video.

Next/previous track: These keys allow users to skip to the next or previous track in a playlist or media library.

Volume up/down: These keys allow users to increase or decrease the volume of their computer’s speakers or headphones.

Mute: This key allows users to mute the sound on their computer quickly and easily.

Keyboard media keys can be very convenient for users who frequently listen to music or watch videos on their computers. By providing quick and easy access to media controls, users can adjust their media playback without the need to open a specific application or window. 

Additionally, media keys can help improve productivity by allowing users to quickly pause their media playback to answer a phone call or respond to an e-mail.

Note: Not all keyboards have media keys. In some cases, users can use keyboard shortcuts or software to assign specific keys to media functions. Additionally, some media keys may not be supported by all media applications or operating systems.


In conclusion, the keys on a computer keyboard serve different functions and are useful in different applications. By understanding the various keys, users can become more proficient in their computer usage. 

I hope this article has been informative and helpful in understanding the functions of computer keyboard keys.

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