On my Dell Studio 15, the function keys, by default, do things like switch the radio on/off or change the brightness or sound. To use them as function keys I have to hold down the Fn modifier.

I use function keys as function keys a lot more often than I want to change the volume or brightness.

Am I missing an obvious setting somewhere in the control panel (Vista Uber Extreme Something)?

3 Answers 3


There should be a BIOS setting to modify this behavior:

Advanced -> Function Key Behavior -> Function Key First

  • Doh! Didn't think of the BIOS settings. New computer and all. I'll check it next time I restart. Commented Aug 1, 2009 at 12:51

This setting can also be changed through the Windows Mobility Center, look for the "Function Key Row" setting.

  • 1
    According to a deleted post: the BIOS changes the default, and the Windows Mobility Center (WIN+X) allows toggle. And apparently some computers might fail to honor the default from the BIOS.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 19:05
  • As of windows 8.1, I'm not seeing the 'Function Key Row' in the Mobility Center. Any updates? Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 1:53

This question is also answered here: https://superuser.com/a/1219207/59508

Often the ESC key will have a 'function lock' icon which looks like a padlock. Press the 'FN' select key and ESC and it switches the function keys to behave as function keys.

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