A computer keyboard is an input device used for typing and entering data into computer. Almost every computer keyboard follows QWERTY standard and so if you learn working on one keyboard, you’ll be able to easily operate other keyboards. If you check your mobile phone’s keyboard, you’ll find that similar to a computer keyboard.
Here is how a keyboard looks like for a Desktop computer and a laptop.
In the picture, you can see that most of the keys for a desktop computer and laptop are same. So, now I am going to tell you about all the common keys that you’ll find in every computer keyboard.
Types of keys in a keyboard
Escape key – At the top left corner of the keyboard, you’ll find Esc key. When a process like file copying is running and you want to cancel it, you can use this key to cancel the current process. You can also use Esc key to close some application windows.
Function keys – Next to Esc key, you’ll find a series of 12 F keys that starts with F1 and ends at F12. These 12 keys are called function keys and every F key has a different function. F1 allows us to open the Help file for the active application. F2 is used to rename files and folders. Some function keys may not do any function in few applications, for example, F2 key does not do any function in Microsoft Word.
Number pad or Numeric keypad – At the right side of the keyboard, you’ll find numbers and operator buttons like + (addition), – (subtraction)), * (multiplication), / (division) available. It looks similar to what you see in a calculator. You can also use Num Lock key to turn the numeric keypad ON or OFF.
Some laptops are so small in size that they may not have numeric keypad that we usually see in the standard laptop keyboards.
Arrow keys – The four arrows keys are available at the left to the bottom of the numeric keypad. You can use these keys to move towards up, right, bottom and left directions on a page, desktop or in a window. Sometimes the arrows are also used with Windows key, Alt key, Ctrl key and Shift key.
Alphanumeric keys – The alphanumeric keys cover more than half of the keyboard area and they are used for typing alphabets, punctuation and symbolic characters. At above the first row of the alphabet keys, you’ll notice there are numeric keys available that are also used for typing symbols like @, #, $ etc. When there are two characters printed on a single key and you have to type the symbol printed at the top, you use Shift key. For example; If you have to type %, you will first press Shift key and while holding Shift key, press % key.
Enter key – There are two Enter keys available in a computer keyboard and they perform same work. They are positioned in two different places to ease your work. When you are typing alphabets or symbolic characters, you can use Enter key placed near the right Shift key. When you are working with number pad, you can use Enter key placed on that.
The Enter keys also perform different functions as per the application we are working. If you select a file or folder, you can use Enter key to open the file or folder. When you are working on a calculator, you can use Enter key to get the result. And, when you are typing on a text editor or a document, you can use Enter key to move to the new line.
Spacebar key – The spacebar key is the biggest key in the keyboard. When you press this key while typing, it adds blank space of one letter after the current letter. Spacebar key is also used to start playing a computer game and you can also use this key to play and pause audio or video files playing in popular media players like VLC.
Tab key – You’ll find Tab key at the left side in a keyboard, placed above the Caps Lock key. In Microsoft Excel you can use this key to move from one cell to the next right cell. In Microsoft Word, Notepad and other text editors, you can use Tab key to add blank space of 5 letters after the current letter. In an active application window, you can also use this key to jump from one button to another button. When you press Windows key + Tab key, you’ll see all the application windows currently open at your computer desktop.
Caps Lock key – Just below the Tab key, you’ll find Caps Lock key and it acts as a switch. When you turn ON the Caps Lock key and type, the letters will appear in uppercase. And, when you turn OFF the Caps Lock key and type, the letters will appear in lowercase.
When you use Shift key, the Caps Lock key works reversely. If Caps Lock is ON and you press Shift key while typing, the letters will appear in lowercase. And, if Caps Lock is OFF and you press Shift key while typing, the letters will appear in uppercase.
Shift key – In every keyboard, there are two Shift keys – one is placed below Caps Lock key and another you’ll find placed below Enter key. Both Shift keys function same and are given to ease your work. There are some keys in the keyboard where you will see one letter is placed at the bottom and another letter is placed at the top of the key. To type such top letters, you’ll have to use Shift key. Shift keys are also used with Ctrl and Tab keys.
Ctrl key – Below Shift key, you’ll find Ctrl key called as control key. In some laptop, there is only one Ctrl key, however, most of the keyboards have two Ctrl keys. The Ctrl key is used in combination with other keys as shortcut key to perform a task. For example: Ctrl + A is used to select all the contents you have added in a document. Ctrl + P is used to print the document.
Windows key – All the modern keyboards comes with one or two Windows keys. You can directly open Start Menu by pressing Windows key. You can identify a Windows key by the key in the keyboard with Windows operating system icon. A Windows key is also used with few other keys as shortcut to perform specific function. When you press Windows + Tab key, it shows you all the active windows currently open. And, when you press Windows + P, it shows you the projection options.
Alt key – There are two Alt keys in every keyboard and in some keyboards, the two Alt keys have different functions. The most common use of Alt key is to access the application menu and commands directly without using mouse. Like, in Microsoft Word, if you press Alt key, you’ll see the shortcut key to access tabs – F for File tab, H for Home tab, N for Insert tab etc. In some keyboards, the right Alt key is only used to rotate the desktop screen.
PrntScr key – The PrntScr is called as Print Screen, it allows you to take screenshot of what you are seeing currently on the computer screen. After taking the screenshot, you can paste the captured image in other programs like Paint, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint.
Insert key – The Insert key acts like a switch that you can turn ON or OFF. When you turn it ON and then type, it will replace the letter next to the blinking text insertion point. For example: If you have typed a word ‘smash’ and the text insertion point is before a. Now, when if you turn ON Insert key and type e, it will replace the letter a with e, so the word will become ‘smesh’.
Delete key – If you have to remove a file or folder from your computer, you can use Delete key. You can also use this key to delete text, image or other type of object in a document. When you’re typing a word, if you press this key, it will delete the text right to the text insertion point.
The Delete key is placed always placed near Insert key and in some keyboards, you will find it with Del printed on the key.
Backspace key – When you type a letter or word and you press Backspace key; it will delete the text left to the text insertion point. Using Backspace key, you can also delete selected text or word.
While opening links in a web browser, you can use Backspace key to return to the previous webpage.
Home key – The Home key is placed near Backspace key and when you press this key, the text insertion point moves to the beginning of the current line. You can also use Shift + Home key to select the text from the current position to the beginning of the current line.
End key – When you press End key, it moves the text insertion point to the end of the current line. And, you can use Shift + End key to select the text from the current position to the end of the current line.
Page Up key – In a document page, the Page Up key (printed as PgUp in some keyboards) allows you to jump the page up by a screen view showing you a part of the page or multiple pages depending on the Zoom percentage of the current document.
Page Down key – In a document page, the Page Down key (printed as PgDn in some keyboards) allows you to jump the page down by a screen view showing you a part of the page or multiple pages depending on the Zoom percentage of the current document.
Num Lock key – If a keyboard has numeric keypad, you can lock them to function by turning Num Lock key ON. When Num Lock key is OFF, the numeric keypad will not work as they are supposed to.
I hope this article was helpful enough to give you an idea about computer keyboard and its types. I would recommend you to subscribe our YouTube channel – LM Skills Academy and also follow us on Instagram @lmskillsacademy for more learning.