Help key

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A Help key, found in the shape of a dedicated key explicitly labeled "Help", or as another key, typically one of the function keys, on a computer keyboard, is a key which, when pressed, produces information on the screen/display to aid the user in his/her current task, such as using a specific function in an application program.

In the case of a non-dedicated Help key, the location of the key will sometimes vary between different software packages. Most common in computer history, however, is the development of a de facto Help key location for each brand/family of computer, exemplified by the use of F1 on IBM compatible PCs.

Apple keyboards[edit]

A 1982 Apple Computer manual for developers stated that "The standard help key on the Apple IIe and Apple III series computers is either OPEN-APPLE-? or SOLID-APPLE-? ... The standard help key on the Apple II and Apple II Plus, where practical, is a question mark or slash, or else ESCAPE ? or ESCAPE /."[1]

On a full-sized Apple keyboard, the help key was labelled simply as "Help", located to the left of the home key. Where IBM compatible PC keyboards had the insert key, Apple keyboards had the help key instead. As of 2007, new Apple keyboards do not have a help key. In its place, a full-sized Apple Keyboard has a Fn key instead. Instead of a mechanical help key, the menu bar for most applications contain a Help menu as a matter of convention.

Commodore & Amiga keyboards[edit]

The Commodore 128 had a "Help" key in the second block of top row keys. Amiga keyboards had a "Help" key, labelled as such, above the arrow keys on the keyboard, and next to a "Del" key (where the Insert/Home/Pg Up cluster is on a standard PC keyboard).

Atari keyboards[edit]

The keyboards of the Atari 16 and 32 bit computers had a "Help" key above the arrow keys on the keyboard. Atari 8-bit XL and XE series keyboards had dedicated "Help" keys, but in the group of differently-styled system keys separated from the rest of the keyboard.

Sun Microsystems (Oracle)[edit]

Most of the Sun Microsystems Keyboards have a dedicate "Help" key in the left top corner (left from the "Esc" key above block of 10 (Stop,Again,Props,Undo,Front,Copy,Open,Paste,Find,Cut) extra keys.


  1. ^ Meyers, Joe; Tognazzini, Bruce (1982). Apple IIe Design Guidelines (PDF). Apple Computer. pp. 39–40. 

"manual" (PDF). pp. chapter 7 "image of Type–6 keyboard". Retrieved September 25, 2011.