Office Function key alternatives

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If pressing Function keys is a hassle, like on smaller laptop keyboards, there are some alternatives.

Many laptop users avoid the Function keys because they aren’t directly available on the keyboard.  Instead you need to press the Fn key and another key … the Function labels aren’t easy to see.

Here’s the Function keys on a Lenovo laptop like the one we’re using to type this article.  Those dark red F labels might seem clear but they are small and fade into the black background.

Office Function key alternatives - Office Function key alternatives

Add to the Ribbon

The workaround is to put the wanted functions on the ribbon instead. Here we’ve added some Field Code functions onto the Word ribbon because it’s easier than accessing the F9 keys (and remembering the shortcuts!).

We’re not the only one to get confused between the Word field code shortcuts.  Does Alt + F9 add a field code or view field codes? (it’s the latter)

Office Function key alternatives 1 - Office Function key alternatives

Adding the buttons to the ribbon is easy.  We’ve added these to the end of the Developer ribbon but they can be anywhere or even on your own custom tab.

Office Function key alternatives 2 - Office Function key alternatives

View Field Codes:  toggles fields between visible codes and the current result –  Alt + F9

Update:  refreshes/recalcs all the fields in the document – F9

Unlink Fields:  converts a field code into text.

Tip:  View Field Codes is necessary before finding or replacing text inside a field code e.g. hyperlinks.

On Screen Keyboard

Another option is using an On-Screen Keyboard or OSK.  It’s a little clumsy and takes up screen space but it’ll do at a pinch. On-screen keyboards have a sticky Fn button at bottom left that enables the Fn row.

Windows 10: go to Settings | Ease of Access | Keyboard.  Press the Fn key to show the Function keys.

Mac: Apple menu | System Preferences | Accessibility | Keyboard | Accessibility Keyboard | Enable Accessibility Keyboard.

See When F9 and other Fn keys don’t work in Word or Excel

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