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How to remap keyboard function keys to be reached directly?
Today most keyboards have function keys ( F1 , F2 , …, F1 ) are mapped on the keys to be reached with the simultaneous fn/kbd> key.
As a developer, I use much more frequently function keys than other functions mapped (luminosity +/-, volume +/-, ...), so I ask:
On Linux, how to remap function keys to be directly reachable, without any modifier, and possibly remap other functions mapped to be reached via the fn modifier?
- Maybe AutoKey might help you? Its Windows alternative, AutoHotkey does a great job in fixing keyboard's weirdness. – Hope Mar 13, 2019 at 8:49
2 Answers 2
Unfortunately you (usually) can't. The fn key mappings are managed by hardware. Some laptops (such as the Thinkpad) allow you to edit that functionality in the BIOS so that the default behaviour (without pressing fn ) is the F1..F12 keys.
Edit: Looks like there may be ways to address this on certain keyboards using Solaar. See the following answer: https://askubuntu.com/questions/285512/how-to-change-function-fn-key-behavior-on-wireless-logitech-keyboard
- Would one be able to bypass using the fn keys with an external keyboard? – Todd Sep 8, 2015 at 18:35
- In the laptop case, sure. The fn key is not a normal modifier like shift or ctrl . It causes the keyboard itself to send modified scancodes, and as such the behaviour is entirely dependent on the keyboard itself (and in the case of some laptops, a BIOS-controlled keyboard configuration). – alienth Sep 8, 2015 at 18:39
- Thanks for the link! I am interested with the builtin keyboard... I didn't know about BIOS setting on the Thinkpad... – MarcoS Sep 19, 2015 at 14:21
If you have an Apple keyboard, try these instructions for Arch Linux or these instructions for Ubuntu :
- In a terminal, run echo 2 | sudo tee /sys/module/hid_apple/parameters/fnmode
- If the function keys start working, make it permanent by creating /etc/modprobe.d/hid_apple.conf with these contents: options hid_apple fnmode=2
- Then regenerate your initial ramdisk. In Arch Linux, run sudo mkinitcpio -p linux . In Ubuntu, run sudo update-initramfs -u -k all . Other distros should have documentation on this.
It's worth trying even if you don't have an Apple keyboard because some keyboards report as Apple keyboards. (For example, my Varmilo keyboard shows up as an Apple keyboard.)
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How to Change What the Fn Keys Do in Windows 10 and 11
The function keys are handy, but you can truly make them your own with some customization.
The function keys at the top of your keyboard serve as a shortcut to control certain hardware features. For instance, if you want to turn on the backlit keyboard, they allow you to do so by pressing a key, saving you from having to do the same through Windows.
By default, these keys can only be used when you press the dedicated Fn key with them. Nevertheless, you can customize this setting, along with many others, to suit your needs. Here are the different ways you can modify the settings of Windows 10 and 11 function keys.
What Are the Function Keys, and Why Do You Need Them?
Function keys, or just "Fn" for short, are used to trigger functions of the F keys (F1, F2, F3, etc.) on the top of the keyboard. In essence, it acts as a shortcut key for basic yet essential functions like changing the volume, brightness, and backlight.
In most laptops, there are 12 function keys (they used to be a lot more in the older devices), and you can use them by pressing them along with the "Fn" key on your keyboard. So for instance, if you wish to enable the backlit keyboard using the F3 key, you can hold the Fn key and then press F3 to make the desired changes.
We have a detailed guide to function keys where we discuss what all 12 keys do. You can check it out for more insight on the topic.
1. How to Change the Function Key Settings Using the Mobility Settings on Dell Computers
The easiest way to change function keys is by modifying settings within the Windows Mobility Center. This method, however, will only work for those of you using a Dell device.
Here is how to proceed:
- Type Windows Mobility Center in Windows search and click Open .
- In the following window, look for the Fn key row section and expand the drop-down under it.
- If you wish to choose the F keys for basic functions, choose Function key .
If you own other devices, then you might want to look for similar options in the System or keyboard settings. You can also search the manufacturer’s official website for information regarding such customizations.
2. How to Modify the Function Keys Settings in the BIOS
You can also make the changes directly in BIOS, which helps the operating system and the hardware load properly.
The steps of accessing BIOS in different devices can vary. Below, we have discussed the steps of accessing BIOS and making the desired changes in HP and Acer. If you own a different device, then it is best to head over to the manufacturer’s website and look for the steps of accessing BIOS there.
Follow these steps if you have an HP device:
- First, turn off your PC.
- Now restart the device and repeatedly press the F10 key. This should successfully launch the BIOS.
- Navigate to System Configuration menu > Action Keys Mode .
- Use the Enter key to enable or disable the features.
- Click Exit to save the changes.
Similarly, if you have an Acer device, follow these steps:
- Hold the F2 key and the Power button simultaneously.
- Once you reach the BIOS screen, head over to the System Configuration Menu and click Enter in the Action Keys Mode option.
- Pick the desired mode and hit Exit.
3. How to Change the Function Key Settings Using the UEFI Settings
If you cannot boot into BIOS for some reason, try changing the Fn keys using UEFI settings. UEFI is basically BIOS on steroids, as it offers a bunch of additional functions and is more powerful.
Here is how you can boot into UEFI Settings if you are a Windows 10 user:
- Press the Win + I keys to open Windows Settings.
If you are a Windows 11 user, follow these steps:
- Press the Win + S keys together to open the Windows Search utility.
- Type Recovery in the search field and choose Recovery options from the list of options available.
Once you have booted in the Windows Recovery Environment using these steps, proceed with the following:
- In the following window, select Troubleshoot .
- In the following window, head over to the Configuration tab.
- Click Save and then press Exit to sign out of BIOS.
How to Enable the Fn Lock
If you do not want to press the Fn key every time you want to enable/disable any of the 12 functions, you can toggle on the Fn lock. With this feature, the Fn key will appear to always be held down on the keyboard, and you will be able to use any function key without having to first press the Fn key.
In most keyboards, the Fn lock is associated with the Esc key, but it can be different in your device. Typically, these keys have a lock icon on them. You can use the manufacturer’s website to find the lock on your device if you cannot locate a key with a lock icon.
Once you have found the key, hold the Fn key and press the lock key. This will enable the function. You can follow the same steps for disabling it in the future.
Is It a Good Idea To Change Fn Key Settings?
Changes to Fn keys are safe and do not have any negative consequences. The customization options for the keys within Windows are limited, but there are quite a few third-party resources that you can look into if you want to modify keys a step further.
On Windows, you can also disable specific keys on your keyboard so you can avoid accidentally pressing keys you don't use. As a general rule, if you follow the steps carefully, you should have no problems.
Here are some considerations to help you decide if changing the Fn keys is a good idea for you:
- Familiarity : If you are familiar with the traditional behavior of function keys and use them often, it may be a good idea to change the Fn key settings so that you can use the standard functions keys without having to press the Fn key every time.
- Multimedia functions : If the function keys on your keyboard are assigned multimedia functions, and you use them frequently, standard fn key functions might not be as useful for you. In that case, you may want to keep the default Fn key settings.
- Compatibility : If you use software that requires input from the standard function keys, it may be necessary to change the Fn key settings to ensure compatibility.
Ultimately, whether it is a good idea to change the Fn key settings or not will depend on how you use your computer and what you prefer. We recommend weighing the pros and cons and consider your usage patterns before you make a decision.
Use the Function Keys Like a Pro
Function keys are great for improving productivity and efficiency. With the right techniques in mind, you can make the most of them. We hope that following the steps above enabled you to modify the setting of your function keys. It is also important to note that all the methods outlined above don't make a permanent change to the system, so you can always revert the changes.