Are there function keys on your Mac keyboard that seem useless to you? You can reprogram them to be more useful!
Remap a function key to take a screenshot instead of showing active apps in Mission Control. Or change a button that normally opens Launchpad to instead bring up the emoji viewer or a menu bar calendar of your choice.
Such changes are easy to make, as we shall see below. But let's first take a closer look at the behavior of the function keys themselves.
The dual role of the function keys
By default, the function keys on your Mac's keyboard perform the actions indicated by the icons printed on them. Accordingly, the F1 and F2 Buttons regulate the screen brightness, the F3 Key triggers Mission Control that F4 Key opens Launchpad and so on.
However, they can also act as regular function keys (F keys), which are keys that can be programmed (or reprogrammed) to perform certain actions on your computer or in certain applications.
To use the old-fashioned F-keys you have to use the Fn Key as a modifier. macOS has no default action associated with F-keys except F11 and F12 If you do, they won't do anything when you press it.
This is where remapping these keys comes into play. The following sections explain how to add actions to these blank keys.
In the meantime, would you prefer your function keys to be regular F-keys by default? It's pretty easy to do.
How to use function keys as standard F-keys
visit System Preferences> Keyboard> Keyboard and check the box for Use any of the F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys.
Now the F1, F2, and other keys work as normal function keys, and you must use the Fn Key modifier to access the printed symbol functions.
Actions to be assigned to the function keys
You can program a variety of actions on your Mac's function keys to make using your Mac much easier. It is good to think about what specific actions you want for each key so that you can efficiently plan the remapping of the function keys.
Some actions we consider for F-keys are those with hard-to-remember keyboard shortcuts, like the emoji viewer (Ctrl + Command + Spacebar).
They could also have a function key that launches Calendar, Mail, or the Notification Center for you if you use them frequently.
Another useful idea is an F-key to count words to run a macOS word counter script when you select text. As well as a button that activates spoken content on your Mac and a button to reload pages.
Many special macOS services are also ideal for function key shortcuts that you can assign via System Preferences> Keyboard> Shortcuts> Services.
Reassign function keys in the system settings
To remap individual function keys to fulfill your bids, visit System Preferences> Keyboard> Shortcuts. This is the same place for customizing keyboard shortcuts on macOS.
You will find two areas here: one shows a menu with various macOS functions and settings and the other shows the list of actions that you can perform with a keyboard shortcut or function key under this menu list.
To change or add a function key to an existing action, the check box next to it must be activated.
As soon as this is the case, you can click in the text field with the function key, the key combination or none Text to the right of the action name and press the F key to which you want to program the action.
As an example, let's say you want the Please do not disturb Mode with the F10 Key. To program the F10 Button, go to Mission Control in the settings area and make sure the box next to Turn Do Not Disturb on / off is checked.
Click on none or the current shortcut and press F10 on your keyboard. Go ahead and meet F10 again – you will now toggle Do Not Disturb on and off!
Some actions need to be added to yours connections Tab before you can assign it to a function key. This can include actions for specific apps as well as actions that can apply to your entire computer.
You may want to switch to full screen mode in every app on your Mac by tapping F11 Key. This action doesn't exist in the macOS system settings, but basically in every app.
To add this action, go to App shortcuts in the settings area and click on the Plus (+) Button under the action area. A window for adding an action appears.
We want them use Drop down to be in that window All applications for this example, but you can set it to specific apps for other actions.
The text in Menu title must match the manner perfectly and the action is indicated in the menus of applications. In this case, switching to full screen mode is usually as Activate full screen mode under the view Most apps tab, so let's put that in the box here.
Finally set Keyboard shortcuts, click on the text field next to it and press F11 on your keyboard. click Add to, and now when you meet F11 Your active app switches to full screen mode!
If you want to exit full screen mode with F11 Also, you need to add exiting full screen mode as a separate action. Just follow the steps above using Exit full screen mode in Menu title Instead, you can toggle the full screen mode with F11.
Reassign function keys with third-party apps
You can also program actions on your function keys using third-party applications such as Keyboard Maestro and Karbiner-Elements.
With Keyboard Maestro and Karbiner-Elements you can assign actions to function keys as in the system settings, but you can also design macros that you can assign to function keys.
Another app you might want is FunctionFlip, which allows you to make some function keys operate with their standard actions while turning others into regular F-keys that you can program.
The best app to use depends on how much you want to customize the keyboard behavior of your Mac. However, for more complicated or complicated actions, a third-party app gives you more options than customizing the options in System Preferences.
Download: Keyboard Maestro ($ 36, free trial available)
Download: Carabiner elements (free)
Download: FunctionFlip (Free)
Troubleshooting function key problems
There are some problems you can encounter with remapping function keys, but there are workarounds for this:
- The key is already in use: You can deactivate or reassign the link for the collision action and then assign this function key to the new action.
- You want to start an app with a function key, but you cannot do this in the system settings: Visit the settings Area of the app you want to start and program the shortcut from there. Or create a new one Fast reaction in Automat that is only Start the program Action and assign a link from the inside to this file Services in the settings area in Keyboard system settings.
- You cannot assign function keys to certain actions: Install BetterTouchTool, the ultimate Mac productivity app. This can solve the problem where, for example, an app insists that you only use a function key with a modifier. You can also use BetterTouchTool to trigger other keyboard shortcuts.
- You no longer have function keys to assign actions: Start using modifier keys like opportunity and command with the function keys to double or triple their use.
Download: BetterTouchTool ($ 9 for 2 years or $ 21 for lifetime access, free trial available)
Make the function keys more useful
The function keys on your Mac's keyboard are an underutilized resource. We hope we've inspired you to use yours more with our remapping guides and tips. And we hope that programming your function keys will make using your Mac easier than ever!
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About the author
(47 published articles)
Jessica has been writing tech articles since 2018 and loves knitting, crocheting, and embroidering little things in her spare time.
By Jessica Lanman
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