Talk:Function key

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A wonderful little article. My thanks to the author. Kjb 20:25, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

F13 and up on PCs?[edit]

In my time I've seen a handful of PC applications that expose in their UIs support for F keys up to 16. At first I assumed that these were a feature of the latest generation of PC keyboards, but such keyboards have remained nowhere to be seen ever since (at least in my experience).

The Windows API even defines virtual key codes up to F24. Has any PC keyboard ever been made with more than 12 function keys? Or are these codes all just reserved in case somebody makes such a thing? -- Smjg 23:27, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

I have seen the ability to program up to F24, and to get there you use the Alt+F12 or Shift+F12 (or what ever key you were looking for) but if I am not mistaken, back in the 80s, they actually had keyboards with more than the current standard 12 F-Keys, I was still pretty new to computers at the time, and I was a Mac/Apple user, but for some reason I remember some of the IBM computers with more Fkeys than others (Macs had none). If someone can find a picture of one of these keyboards that would be good, I couldn't. --Billy Nair (talk) 16:24, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
"and to get there you use the Alt+F12 or Shift+F12" - what do you mean by this exactly? And are you sure these keyboards "back in the 80s" were PC keyboards? (When was the 101/102-key PC keyboard first introduced, for that matter?) -- Smjg (talk) 21:25, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
IBM 5250 provides image of PC keyboard with keys up to F24. (talk) 18:00, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
That image might be helpful in this article, as well as one of a keyboard with the F keys on the left. —Wulf (talk) 09:48, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
The 5250 wasn't a PC, according to the description in the given topic, but was a (dumb) terminal connected to IBM minicomputers Tedickey (talk) 10:55, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
Early in PC history, there were companies that made "3270/PC" keyboards, that had 122 keys, including 24 separate Function keys, in 2 rows of 12 across the top of the keyboard. They were especially desired by mainframe programmers, who were very used to the 3270 layout, and wanted the same layout on their PC. And they are still made & sold today. T-bonham (talk) 03:46, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

How to program F keys[edit]

This article states that F keys can be programmed but does not give any information on how to do it or any refence links to sites or programs that would do it. For example, can I program F2 to be my address, F3 my city, F4 my zip code, F5 my phone number, etc. as these are requested constantly by web sites? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:22, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

I think what is meant is that application developers can program the keys to do whatever they like in their applications - how to do this would depend on the operating system (among other things). But it's no different from other keys in this respect - so I'm not sure why this comment was added. -- Smjg (talk) 21:29, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

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VT100 Alt key[edit]

VT100's PF1 doesn't match the description for the Alt key topic. Perhaps someone's confusing that with some terminal emulator. Tedickey (talk) 16:34, 18 December 2008 (UTC).

See for example the photos, diagram and info at Columbia University's site [1]

History? - "PF" keys[edit]


Is it correct that the function keys were called "PF" keys in the past? If so, when was this changed? If not, was this only applicable for one type of keyboard? E-pen (talk) 17:11, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

no - "PF" keys generally refer to VT100 numeric keypad (the top row). The consensus on those seems to be that they weren't "function keys", which refer to something more general. Tedickey (talk) 17:13, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
Is the Maestro I keyboard a VT100 keyboard as well then (see image on the right)? E-pen (talk) 17:23, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
no - the VT100 keypad has 18 keys (one more than a PC keyboard). That has 14 Tedickey (talk) 17:31, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
yes. IBM 3270 terminals (introduced around 1972) had 12 "PF" keys, then later 24 of them. They were called "Program Function" keys, and could be used by programs for various functions. Some uses became quite standard, and are commonly used today in most software (for example, F1 or PF1 for 'Help'). And the PF terminology probably comes from this rather than the VT100; there were way more 3270's in use than VT100's. T-bonham (talk) 03:53, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Function Key Schemes[edit]

The Acorn Electron, as I recall, has an ingenius system for Function keys where in order to save space, a FUNC key is included in the style of ALT keys on later machines so that (among other things) numbers 0-9 function as F0-F9 (as used on the BBC micro). Is this a common practise and should it be included in the article? -- (talk) 21:10, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

There's not enough information in the comment to say (a picture might help) Tedickey (talk) 22:35, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
No. It's an ugly kludge used only when the designer didn't allow enough room for real function keys. Not good, only done out of necessity. T-bonham (talk) 03:55, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Errors on first paragraph[edit]

Currently it says:

"A function key is a key on a computer or terminal keyboard which can be programmed so as to cause an operating system command interpreter or application program to perform certain actions, a form of soft key.[1] On some keyboards/computers, function keys may have default actions, accessible on power-on."

1. "which can be programmed" — All keys can be programmed. Pressing a key sends a numeric value. Keyboards are generally hardwired with respect to which value is sent, but the value is received by a program which might forward it as is to other programs or send something else.

2. "so as to cause an operating system command interpreter or application program to perform certain actions"

There's A) the numeric value that a program sees and B) what a program does upon seeing that value.

And what a program does upon seeing it might be hardcoded, but another program might provide its own method for the user to specify what do to.

3. "operating system command interpreter or application program"

This sounds like saying command interpreters are distinct from applications and are a feature of "operating systems," which is stupid.

Proposed change:

"On computer keyboards, function keys provide key slots available for extra keyboard functions, basic input already covered by a number of other provided keys."

I'm gonna change it per (talk) 13:23, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

That change removed a reliable source and replaces it with a couple of undefined terms. In the commentary above, it is asserted that "all keys can be programmed" (also lacking a source) TEDickey (talk) 00:51, 15 July 2015 (UTC)