How To Enable/Disable The Multimedia Actions For The Function Keys

The function keys on our laptops double as multimedia keys that allow us to pause/play a video, mute/unmute the speakers, manage the volume, manage screen brightness, toggle the WiFi switch, and project to a screen. If you have a PC then it’s likely the keyboard you use with it has dedicated keys for most of these functions. The function keys, i.e. the F1-F12 keys simply perform their default functions without you having to hold down a special Fn key on your keyboard. Laptops are a different story and if you’re looking to disable the multimedia function for these keys there’s a simple setting in your BIOS that should disable it. Alternatively, if the function keys refuse to perform the multimedia actions they are associated with, you need to look at your system’s BIOS to sort it out.

You need to get into the system BIOS. To do so, you will have to repeatedly tap the Esc or F2 key on your laptop right after you turn it on. The key you need to hold down is usually shown when your system is booting up but it shows for a split second at best and you might miss it. To avoid guesswork, Google what key you need to hold down in order to boot into BIOS. For HP laptops it’s the Esc key or the F10 key (varies from model to model) and for Dell it’s the F2 key.

Inside, go to the System Configuration tab and look for Action Keys Mode. If the keys are enabled, they will function as multimedia keys by default. In order to use their actual functions, you will have to hold down the Fn key.

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Disabling the Action Keys Mode will make it so that the function keys can no longer control the volume, media playback, brightness etc on your screen. Simply disable it and save the changes you’ve made.

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Boot to your desktop like you normally do and the function keys will do what they were meant to do i.e. F1 will open the Help dialogue for the current app, F2 will open a new document depending on what other special function keys you hold down with it, and Alt+F4 will close the current app/document. You won’t need to hold down the Fn key any longer.

Some laptops might allow you to enable/disable this function via the Windows Mobility Center. The laptops will likely come packaged with an app from the manufacturer that makes this easy to do without having to go to the BIOS. It’s worth trying if you are nervous about changing something in the BIOS. Simply type Win+X and look for the function key settings in the Windows Mobility Center.