STANDARD  KEYBOARD  KEYS


Although this section is aimed at explaining the FN (Function) key found on a MacBook Pro - Apple Mac Laptop computer keyboard, and more precisely its modifier/combination keys, I will also be explaining some of the common keys found on both a standard usb/bluetooth keyboard and a laptop keyboard.


Modifier keys (also known as Combination keys), such as CTRL (Control), ALT (Alternate) and CMD (Command), are keys that normally modify the functionality of an application when used with other keys.

 

BACKSPACE is used to delete the character to the left of the flashing cursor in a text document for example. So if you have the word MAVERICKS typed out and the flashing text cursor is currently positioned to the right of the letter R, pressing BACKSPACE will delete R so that you are left with MAVEICKS. The flashing text cursor will then be to the right of the letter E. Pressing BACKSPACE again would delete the letter E, leaving you with MAVICKS. The flashing text cursor will then be to the right of the letter V. And so on.


 

TAB (Tabulation) is used to move between (select) objects such as Edit Boxes, Buttons, Tick Boxes, Microsoft Excel Cells, Microsoft Word Table Cells and so on. It is also used to create spaces (tabs) in a document, which in turn can be used to evenly space words/sentences. With an online application form you normally click on the First Name edit box, type your first name, click on the Last Name edit box, type your last name and so on, but you could simply press TAB after entering some information to get inside the next edit box. TAB is a lot quicker than reaching for the mouse and is suited for Excel users for example.


 

CAPS LOCK is used with an alphabetical character (a to z) to make that character UPPERCASE (big). Pressing the CAPS LOCK key once puts the keyboard in UPPERCASE mode and turns on the Caps Lock light. Pressing the CAPS LOCK key again puts the keyboard back in lowercase (small character) mode. Example: Press CAPS LOCK once and then press g to turn that g into G. Now press the letters r, e, a and t and you get GREAT. Now press CAPS LOCK again and then type g, r, e, a and t and you get great (lowercase).


 

SHIFT is roughly the same as CAPS LOCK except that it does not lock the keyboard in UPPERCASE mode like CAPS (CAPITALS) LOCK does. Therefore, you must press the SHIFT key each time you want an alphabetical character in UPPERCASE. Example: Press the left or right SHIFT key down, and keep it pressed (held down), as you then press the letter g. Doing so will display the alphabetical character g in UPPERCASE (i.e. display G). If you then press the letter g again without holding down the left or right SHIFT key the letter g will be displayed in lowercase (i.e. g). In other words, letters will only be displayed in UPPERCASE as long as the left or right SHIFT key is held down.


 

Besides SHIFT being used to capitalise (UPPERCASE) each alphabetical character you press/type, just like the CAPS LOCK key, it is also used to display a non-alphabetical character (i.e. symbol) you see above a keyboard key. Example: Press the left or right SHIFT key down, and keep it pressed (held down), as you then press the number 2. Doing so will display the @ character (AT symbol) on a UK keyboard. If you press the number 3 instead, with the left or right SHIFT key held down, the £ sign will be displayed.


 

CMD (Command) is commonly used in combination with the SHIFT key and/or the ALT key, together with an alphabetical character key, to execute a procedure/function. And it can also be used in combination with other keys (i.e. with the F keys and the TAB key). Example: When using a text editor application press the left or right CMD key down, and keep it pressed (held down), as you then press the A key. Doing so will highlight all of the text in the currently open/active document. Pressing CMD and C will copy that highlighted text, ready for pasting into another document or e-mail for example using CMD and V. CMD and P will bring up the PRINT requester so you can print the whole document or just a few pages of it. These are known as Shortcut keys.


 

CMD can be used with the TAB key to alternate between applications. Example: Press the CMD key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the TAB Key. A window will appear with application icons on it, representing the currently opened applications, whereby if you press the TAB key again and again you can alternate between (individually select) those applications - To use the currently selected (active) application simply release the TAB key (or CMD key).


 

The ALT (Alternate) key (also known as the OPTION key on an Apple Mac computer) is used in combination with the other modifying keys, such as CMD and CTRL, to improve usability and give more options. Example: If you click on the FILE Menu in a word processor or tex editor application you initially only see the SAVE menu-item whereas if you press the ALT key down whilst the FILE Menu is selected the SAVE AS menu-item becomes available. The same with the CLOSE WINDOW menu-item. It will change into the CLOSE ALL menu-item when ALT is pressed. Hence the word Alternate.


 

The ALT (Alternate) key is also used with standard keys, and combination keys such as CMD and CTRL, to perform application functions and system functions. For example, if you restart your computer and press CMD + OPTION (Alt) + P + R this will execute the Reset PRAM function - Certain hardware diagnostic tests will be performed, on the sound card for example, to make sure there are no issues and if there are a fix will be applied if possible. If you press ALT with 3 it produces the hash tag symbol - #. ALT with 2 produces the euro symbol - €.


 

The CTRL (Control) key amongst the other modifier keys, such as CMD and ALT, is a true modifier key. It's more or less used (programmed) exclusively as a second or third key you press in order to make other keys (functions) work.


 

An example of using the CTRL key - Press the CTRL key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the EJECT Key. Doing so will bring up the RESTART / SLEEP / SHUTDOWN window whereby you can then click on its SHUTDOWN, RESTART or SLEEP button to take the appropriate action.


 

ESC (Escape) is used to cancel (quit, abort, exit or close) an application, piece of software or a function (i.e. an animation, video or slideshow).


 

ENTER (also known as the RETURN key) is normally used (pressed) to go down one line in a document, but it can also be used instead of clicking on a SEARCH, YES or OK button within a message requester. For example, "Do you want to proceed - YES or NO". Pressing the ESC (ESCAPE) key might cancel the operation, which is the equivalent of clicking on a NO, EXIT or CLOSE button whereas pressing ENTER is equivalent of clicking on a YES, PROCEED, NEXT, SEARCH or OK button. In other words. Pressing ENTER is the same as clicking on a positive response button.


 

HOME is normally used to get back to the beginning of a document, sentence or word for example.


 

END is normally used to get to the end of a document, sentence or word for example.


 

PAGE UP is normally used to scroll a document one page up. If PAGE UP is used with the left or right SHIFT key pressed (held down) in a document for example the page moves up whereby the text on that page, from its starting point on the previous page, automatically gets highlighted. This is ideal when you need to scroll up from page 200 to 100 for example but also need to highlight pages 200 to 100; perhaps because you want to cut that text out or copy it.


 

PAGE DOWN is normally used to scroll a document one page down. If PAGE DOWN is used with the left or right SHIFT key pressed (held down) in a document for example the page moves down whereby the text on that page, from its starting point on the previous page, automatically gets highlighted. This is ideal when you need to scroll down from page 100 to 200 for example but also need to highlight pages 100 to 200; perhaps because you want to cut that text out or copy it.


LAPTOP  FUNCTION  KEYS


 

The FN (Function) key is a Modifier key, which means it's a key that modifies the function (behaviour) of another key when it's pressed with that other key. Example: If you press the F11 key it may of been programmed to hide/show the desktop screen whereas if you press the FN (FUNCTION) key, and keep it pressed (held down), and then press the F11 key you will mute the sound in iTunes for example.


 

BRIGHTNESS DOWN (Brightness Decrease/Duller). Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F1 Key. This will lower/decrease/dim the Brightness level of the screen.


 

BRIGHTNESS UP (Brightness Increase/Brighter). Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F2 Key. This will raise/increase/brighten the Brightness level of the screen.


 

The icons on F3 represent the different desktop screens you see when using the Mission Control application. Example: Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F3 Key to launch the application called Mission Control.


 

The icons on F4 represent the different application icons you see when using the LaunchPad application. Example: Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F4 Key to launch the application called LaunchPad.


 

The F5 key does nothing. It's a spare, programmable key.


 

The F6 key does nothing. It's a spare, programmable key.


 

F7 is the REWIND key. When used with the iTunes application it acts as a Previous Soundtrack button. Example: Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F7 Key. This will make iTunes go to the previous soundtrack. F7 is also used as a REWIND key for audio/video footage using the QuickTime application for example.


 

F8 is the PLAY/PAUSE key. When used with the iTunes application it will either PLAY (resume) the currently paused/stopped soundtrack or PAUSE (freeze/stop) the currently playing soundtrack. Example: Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F8 Key. Doing so will Play or Pause the current soundtrack in iTunes. With the QuickTime application the current audio/video footage will Play or Pause.


 

F9 is the FAST FORWARD key. When used with the iTunes application it acts as a Next Soundtrack button. Example: Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F9 Key. This will make iTunes go to the next soundtrack. F9 is also used as a FAST FORWARD button for audio/video footage using the QuickTime application for example.


 

F10 is the MUTE (Volume Zero) key. Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F10 Key. This will put the System Volume at 0 (zero/mute/pause) level.


 

F11 is the VOLUME DOWN (Volume Decrease/Quieter) key. Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F11 Key. This will lower/decrease/quieten the System Volume level.


 

F12 is the VOLUME UP (Volume Increase/Louder) key. Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the F12 Key. This will raise/increase/louder the System Volume level.


 

The EJECT key for CDs and DVDs. Example: Press the FN (Function) key, and keep it pressed (held down), whilst you then press the EJECT Key. Doing so will eject the currently inserted CD or DVD disc. NOTE: The EJECT key can also be used on its own, with the FN key, to eject the currently inserted CD or DVD disc.


KEYBOARD  SHORTCUTS


A Keyboard Shortcut, as the name suggests, is a quick way (shortcut way) to doing something. For example, on the desktop you can have a Shortcut Icon (Alias) that when double clicked on takes you straight to an application or file. Or put another way, it takes a shortcut to where the application or file is stored and then opens that application or file. This is so you don't have to search for, or cycle through to, the actual folder where the application or file is stored - The shortcut icon (alias) does that work for you. It writes the actual application or file location in its icon. Therefore, when you double click on the shortcut icon it jumps straight to the actual folder and then opens the application or file. It knows the name of the application or file because it also has that written in its icon, at the end of the folder location.



Fig 1.0  A shortcut icon (alias) knows (records) the ORIGINAL location of an application or file

Fig 1.0 above shows a shortcut with a Path Name (Actual Folder) of Users/Yoingco/Pictures/John_Cairns/ which means the photo file called John_Cairns.jpg is stored in one root/main folder (Users) and three sub-folders (Yoingco, Pictures and John_Cairns). Instead of having to double click on the four folders in order to then double click on (launch/open) the photo file, you only need to double click on the shortcut icon (alias) to do the same thing.

A Keyboard Shortcut works in roughly the same way as a Shortcut Icon except that it normally shortcuts to a application function rather than to an actual folder, file or application. For example, if you click on one of your application's menus, such as the FILE menu, you will see what Keyboard Shortcuts have been made available for certain file tasks. In Fig 1.1 below you can see the application called TextEdit uses the CMD (Command) key together with the O key to open a file. This means if you press the O key while the CMD key is pressed (held down) a file requester will appear asking you to locate the file you want opening. You could do the same thing by clicking on the FILE menu and then selecting the OPEN menu-item but you may find it quicker to use the keyboard shortcut CMD and O instead.



Fig 1.1  Click on the FILE menu to see its file related menu-items (tasks) with their Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcuts that are in many commercial applications tend to be uniform. Meaning. If CMD and O for example make an OPEN file requester appear in TextEdit, CMD and O should also perform the same function in a commercial application such as Microsoft Word, which it does. Non-Commercial application programmers may tend to use buttons as opposed to menus and therefore might not use keyboard shortcuts at all. Another form of keyboard shortcut is the use of Laptop Function Keys (above).