Little stories for every function key


Here’s a little about my biggest use of each of the 12 function keys. They’re mostly stories about Windows 😕 Oh and the newfangled laptop function mode with brightness and volume controls etc. don’t count.


Help. Which actually used to stand a chance of actually explaining a program. But the complexity of software has far outpaced people’s ability to document it, and this now instead launches a Bing search for “get help with notepad in windows” or whatever other app.

Modern day usefulness: none, and we should probably be ashamed


Rename. Also “new game,” if you’re old enough.

Modern day usefulness: best way to rename, other than in JetBrains software


Find next.

Modern day usefulness: still really handy because Ctrl+G or whatever will be far more tiring if you need to press it like fifty times


With Alt, close.

Modern day usefulness: less than I thought, with tabbed applications being so dominant now, in which Ctrl+W reigns


Refresh. Questions for the audience: (1) should it be legal for web pages to intercept this key, and (2) how long should be prison sentence be for developers who do so?

Modern day usefulness: Ctrl+R is nicer because you don’t have to move your hand as much, but F5, similar to F3, is less tiring if you need to press it like fifty times


Focus the location bar. More formally, it switches “pane.” Alt+D turns out to be better because it’s idempotent. Ctrl+L is the less obscure way to do it, but right handed keyboard shortcuts? Come on.

Modern day usefulness: lost out to Alt+D


Am I forgetting a more obvious use? Several years ago Ubuntu would launch X on tty7. If you wanted to switch to a text terminal you could go to, for example, tty1 with Ctrl+Alt+F1. Then you could go back to your graphical desktop by pressing Alt+F7. I don’t know if it was the change to Wayland or whatever, but nowadays I use Debian, and the greeter is on tty1 and my graphical login is on tty2. If I need to use a text login (not sure if any of these are the right terms), it’ll be tty3. I never have to go all the way out to F7 anymore.

Modern day usefulness: can’t think of any


You used to be able to get Windows to boot into safe mode by pressing F8 at some point while booting. Now they’ve made it so that you instead have to boot normally and hold Shift while clicking Restart. It’s like they didn’t realize that if I could boot normally, then I wouldn’t be panicking and trying different boot modes in the first place.

Modern day usefulness: no known uses


This one time my mom showed me an Excel spreadsheet she used for work, where there was a cyclic reference in the formulas. And the way you’d use it is by going into Excel’s global settings and turning off the feature for automatically calculating the cells that have formulas. In this mode, you’d manually tell Excel to run the formulas, by pressing F9. Cyclic references in this mode were fine, and it would only go around such a loop one time per press.

This particular sheet implemented some iterative numerical approximation algorithm, so you’d enter some guess and press F9 until the answers converged. And then you’d have to switch Excel to turn the automatic calculation back on so that you could get any work done in literally every other file you had.

Modern day usefulness: I got right out of there and never touched that spreadsheet again in my life


With Shift, context menu. Don’t you look at me like I’ve never heard of right clicking before.

Modern day usefulness: hardly any, now that I have a keyboard with a dedicated context menu key



Modern day usefulness: once in a while, especially in video games when you don’t want to go through some settings menu and Alt+Enter isn’t doing it


Dev toooooooools hell yeah. Or as Microsoft Edge interprets it, “ask if they really, really meant to open dev tools.”

Modern day usefulness: indispensable

My last post was about either What “[S]” means in sbt’s dependencyTree output or Clicking the airplane mode button with a bluetooth mouse. Find out which.