Change Function key behavior in Dell laptops

One thing I did not like about my Dell Inspiron 15 7537 Windows 8.1 laptop keyboard was the behavior of the Function and Multimedia keys – that is, the topmost row in the keyboard. On my earlier Dell XPS, I was used to pressing the key to activate the Function keys like F1, F2, etc., and to press Fn key + the F1, F2 key to activate the multimedia operations like Speaker on or off, Search, etc.

Swap or change Function key behavior in Windows laptops

I wanted to change this behavior; ie. I wanted to interchange, swap or inverse keyboard Function and Multi-media keys back to the one I was used to, and here are two ways you can do it.

Via BIOS

function-key-behavior-bios

Restart your Windows computer and when it starts booting, press the F2 key to enter the BIOS settings.

Press the Advanced tab and double-click on Function key behavior. Change the setting from Multimedia key to Function key.

Read: Dell XPS 12 9250 review.

Entering the BIOS and changing BIOS settings is normally not advisable – especially if you are not used to it. I, therefore, recommend you follow this second method.

Via Windows Mobility Center

Change the Function key behavior using the Windows Mobility Center.

To open the Windows Mobility Center, open the Run box, type mblctr and hit Enter. Goes without saying that you can also access it via Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Windows Mobility Center > Adjust commonly used mobility settings.

Change Function key behavior

Under Function Key Row, from the drop-down menu, select the Function key instead of Multimedia key.

In this way, you will be able to interchange, swap or inverse keyboard Function and Multi-media keys on Dell laptops.

NOTE: Please read the comment by David Joseph below.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

76 Comments

  1. Anup Agarwal

    in my del inspiron 3542 when i press WinKey+X, mobility center is opening but its not showing to change the multimedia keys tabs. Its not showing function key rows

  2. Related Dell Drivers and programs are required to be installed. Did you at anytime format your computer? If so you may not see these options. I have now formatted my computer, and I too do not see them now. You may consider the BIOS option. be careful. 🙂

  3. Yannick

    Im actually having an issue as I can’t activate the backlight keyboard. Normally, it’s FN + F10 and i’ve tried also to press only F10 but still it doesn’t work. Any tip?

  4. If neither F10 or Fn+F10 do not work, then it could be a Driver or Hardware issue.

  5. Bridesta

    Thank youuuuu! you made a very confusing thing much easier for a windows newbie like me!!!

  6. nick

    hey so i just bought the dell inspiron 15 7000. Ive tried changing the funtion keys to multimedia keys in mobility center. it works. but when i close my laptop it reverts back to default settings of function keys, Ive gone in the bios and changed the function keys settings to multimedia. after i save and get to the desktop its worked. but when i close my laptop or power down, and than power on my computer the default settings have been restored. Ive tried refreshing windows! nothing. Ive also spoken with dells technical support for countless transfers. they claim the settings cant be changed. but isnt that the whole point of the bios? what now?

    Can i make these changes permanent? please help! thanks

  7. I had changed these settings for sure. Some Dell program appears to me reversing the changes, in your case. See if you can identify it. I recently reformatted this laptop and clean installed Windows 8.1. I am not facing any of these issues now.

  8. Justin F

    The “Wnd+x > Mobility Center > Function Key Row > Select Multimedia Key” works on my Dell XPS laptop, thank you!

  9. Jerry

    THANK YOU, Windows + X did the trick without BIOS

  10. rajat

    in my laptop not showing function key row

  11. Biswajit Das

    You can see this post: http://goo.gl/0PwIYK

  12. kubako83

    hallelujah – thanks for that. I bought a new laptop and got sick with hitting f1-f6 as multimedia key during my work with Total Commander or Excel.

  13. Eiona

    Hey, i just bought inspiron 15 3000. And, in windows mobility center it did not show the lower part of the image of your mobility center. So it doesn’t have the function key row. I don’t want to settle for the BIOS option, because i want to turn on/off fn keys whenever it is necessary and BIOS option is a lot hassle.

  14. daniel

    my friends daughter was messing about with my computer and somehow she changed my colour screen to grayscale and i have tried everything to get it back to normal and nothing works please help

  15. daniel

    by the way its a dell inspiron 1520

  16. Press Left Alt, Left Shift and PrtScr keys together and see if that helps. 🙂

  17. stuartmac

    my keyboard backlighting isn’t working i’ve been in to the windows mobility centre and clicked on the keyboard backlighting thumbnail to get in to the backlighting control no problem. I then set backlighting to bright set the timer to auto turn off after 5 mins click on ok and nothing happens. the thumbnail continues to show backlighting off and there is still no lighting on the keyboard. any suggestions?

  18. ouijagirl

    thank you so much! I cannot live without using my f2 key and was constantly turning to airplane mode….yay!

  19. zulfiqar

    thank you soo much… i had been searching this all over internet but your “Via Windows Mobility Center” Worked. Thank you so much 🙂

  20. sohail daredia

    Hello all, I have come up with a strange problem which are listed as 1. Ctrl, Alt keys not working. 2. Caps lock and Num lock keys lights not working. Can anybody help. I would be very very thankful. God bless.

  21. saikumar

    i press fn + power button when i switch on my laptop then it doesn’t work only when i press the power button can any one help me how i dissolve the fn + power button

  22. James Buel

    its a dell driver app called “Dell QuickSet”, you can find it on the Dell drivers page. Mine is quickset64

  23. Pavlos

    So I bought a Dell laptop and I want to set my four arrow keys (up, down, left, right) behaving like PgUp, PgDn, Home, and End when pressing the function button. Do you have any idea?

  24. Mark StartswK

    This was a big help – thanks for posting.

  25. chetan h. darji

    My F1-F12 keys have all sorts of multimedia buttons on them (volume, brightness, wifi, etc). But I am working in a 3D application which uses F1-F12 heavily, and I do not want to have to press fn+F9 … how i am off FN key

  26. chetan

    pls help me sir.

  27. Mark StartswK

    I can’t seem to post an image here but if you go to CONTROL PANEL, then select WINDOWS MOBILITY CENTER (last item on mine) you will see at the bottom a selection for FUNCTION KEY ROW – switch that setting and you will reverse functionality of function keys.

  28. Venkata Purna Pani Kusumanchi

    Thanks for your help.

  29. Faheem Sial

    Downlaod QucikSet utility of DELL to restore these options from here:
    Go under Applications Section and select QuickSET utility from:

    http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/product-support/product/inspiron-1564/drivers

  30. “Windows Mobility Center” solved my issue… thanks!!!

  31. srigowthamchowdary zillellamud

    hai i got the problem in number key of right side 2,4,6,8 works like a arrows how to change the settings

  32. srigowthamchowdary zillellamud

    i got the problem of right number key pad 2,4,6,8 are working like arrows
    i want to off it . But i don’t know how to off it
    ITS DELL INSPIRON 15 5547 i hope any one will help plzz
    i unable to play games plzzzz

  33. Vishnu

    great …thanks a lot for advice…now function keys are working the way I want.

  34. Saravana Kumar

    awesome

  35. John Chapman

    Thanks. That works well with my Dell 7746 and Windows 10.

  36. sameera

    Hi i have dell inspiron 15 R lap top.when i press Winkey + E ,Explorer is not open , it will appear again desk top.Can you help me to reset this matter

  37. phyllis kramer

    problem solved!! new xps dell laptop windows10…function keys not working…tried mobility center but dell didnt support it (they called it quickset). After 45 minutes, support had me go into bios and change the function keys directly. worked immediately. Interestingly, my plug in keyboard always worked.

  38. David joseph

    No need to do all the bios settings… just hold the Fn key and press esc. … its done

  39. Awesome thanks for a simple solution as the Mobility Center has not got this option in windows 10

  40. David joseph

    Well… I was running mad with it…somehow figured it… then really felt like helping others who might face this trouble

  41. Nelson King

    control panel -> windows mobility center

  42. OldManGoldenwords

    Works great. Thanks!

  43. Ali Altaee

    thanks, to get to mobility you can also right click the power button and you will see windows mobility center, 2nd to last option 🙂

  44. thank you. i was preparing a laptop for my boss and got this problem. btw the laptop is dell 3443

  45. daillegealbeagle

    Hi all,

    great article. Just to update, I think in the latest bios from dell there is a slightly different screen choices to click through. Most people could figure that out, but for n00bs like me I had to email dell. they sent me the correct walkthrough to switch the function lock as of 2/12/16 for windows 10 del xps 15″. Reposting dell’s instructions below for others:

    “Once in the bios choose “post behavior” and then “FN Lock Options”. check the box for “FN lock” and then check “lock mode enable/secondary”. If already configured that way, check “lock mode enable/primary”.

    hope that helps.

  46. Shahmir

    Well, thank u Anand Khanse. I want to add more. In my dell inspiron 5999 I was able to switch between multimedia keys and f1,f2 function keys with simple combination of FN + ESC Button.
    See Image:
    http://i.imgur.com/tn5tkBo.png

  47. Johnson Qu

    Hey; so on my laptop (Inspiron 15 5555 AMD); most of the function keys work without pressing FN (f1 = mute; f2 = volDown; f3 = volUp; f8 = window; f9 = search; f10 = backlight; f11 = brightnessDown f12 = brightnessUp); BUT the f4 (musicBack); f5 (musicStop); and f6 (musicSkip) don’t work unless your press shift as well. How do I make it so I don’t have to press shift to use the f4-6 keys? Thanks in advance 🙂

  48. mini chou

    Please help! I have a Dell Inspiron 1545, Windows 7, and In windows mobility center, I don’t have the Function key row, and I am scared to go into the BIOS settings. What do I do???

  49. ILikeIBN

    great bro u saved my lot of time. U r genious !!

  50. himanish kopalle

    For all who are not able to get the change function key option in windows mobility center when accessing WinKey+X method, just press Esc+Fn, this will automatically reverts the multimedia keys to function keys and vice versa…

  51. Francisco Manzanares

    did not work

  52. Francisco Manzanares

    I don’t have the “Customized by Dell” buttons in my Windows mobility center, is there a driver to download…

  53. himanish kopalle

    try doing Fn+Esc. it should work for you now.

  54. Mbak Soliha

    nice information 🙂

  55. Melissa?

    None of these worked for me bc there is no option to change multimedia tabs on my Latitude 5450. However, I was finally able to fix it by hitting the FN button and ESC button at the same time.

  56. Jiyong

    i really didn’t like this default feature of Fn key of my vostro 3550, i.e. pressed F2 intending to rename a file but only to disconnect the wireless network 🙁 Thanks a million for this quick and easy swapping solution.

  57. Enigmatic One

    Oh my god. Thank you so much. There was so much bullshit and nothing worked lol I was about to throw my computer out the window until you came 🙂

  58. Raman

    Thanks a lot, could do it easily!

  59. Sasha Kostyan

    YOU CAN PRESS “Fn” + “Esc”(On this button there is a lock with the inscription “Fn”). This combination turn on/off “function key”

  60. VampireMinion

    Thank you

  61. VampireMinion

    When my phone beeps or rings near laptop, display of laptop is blinking few seconds. Please can you give me a solution.

  62. sam P

    Wonderful. Thank You it was super quick and it worked.

  63. Sridhar

    Simple solution is fn+escape it will change functional key settings

  64. Ganesh Lanka

    Thankyou very much…

  65. rr

    what is the bios option ? i could not find anything relevant. Such a nice laptop wonder why these morons (Dell) also went in the way of Lenovo in fking up our experience for us.

  66. maelstrom07

    Best.Solution.Ever! Whooda thunk it? A little blue lock icon with “FN” written on it means that it “Locks” the “FN” key! (not sarcasm, I completely missed this for a while). Thank you!

  67. mert

    THANK YOU SO MUCH I WAS TRYING TO DO THIS FOR A WHILE TO KICK SOMEONE IN CSGO IT WOULDN T LET MEEEE !!! YOU CANT CHANGE THE KEY BINDING OF KICKING SOMEONE IT IS F1 AND IT KEPT OPENING AND CLOSING THE SOUND THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH !!!!!!!!!!!!

  68. Muzammil Raza Khan

    A very simple solution to this problem is: For Dell Inspiron 15 (3000 Series)
    Just press Fn + Esc key. (If your Escape key has lock symbol with fn printed on it).

  69. David Oguda

    The cursor of dell latitude 6420E freezes at times, how can i make active all the times?

  70. Donna Herzog

    I found how to lock and unlock the function keys. I wanted to use F2 as the “rename” key, not for “volume down”. For me…. I found the function lock key is the same as my ESC key. It looks like a little lock with the letters Fn. By pressing the the actual function key and the ESC key (or function lock) it toggles what to do when function keys are pressed. Works very similar to the CAPS LOCK to toggle uppercase and lowercase only you have to press two keys simultaneously.

  71. Ashley Conley

    Omg. This was the best solution on this page. It makes sense as there is a Fn Lock icon on the Escape button. Duh. Thank you so much!

  72. Ashley Conley

    Same here! I’ve been driving myself crazy looking for a solution; didn’t want to go into BIOS and the mutlimedia settings weren’t working.

  73. Sathya Narayanan

    Solution by @disqus_ZGXZsTdVa5:disqus
    No need to do all the bios settings… just hold the Fn key and press esc. … its done

  74. Swapnil

    After Downloading Windows 10 Some of the Keys not workings 🙁 Any solutions available ???

  75. firefly

    Sadly, you have access to a whole menu I do not have access to. When I open windows mobility centre I can only change 5 submenus. Fn key isn’t one of them. In fact everything below the “customised by dell” in your picture doesn’t show up for me.

    I’m stuck with a situation where Dell last night randomly decided to reassign the Fn function. How or why a it did this I have no idea. It wasn’t during a reboot. IT happened while I was watching something online and suddenly the brightness button stopped working (today I figured out it works when Pressing Fn…). I’m baffled and worried. because laptops aren’t supposed to randomly change their settings. I’ve tried rebooting but that obviously didn’t work.

    So if someone can direct me to a better option than the one above (which isn’t available to me), please help!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


2 + 7 =