How to Disable the Function Key on a Dell Laptop

Lock or unlock the Function key on a Dell laptop

What to Know

  • On Dell laptops, there is no dedicated key to turn off the Function key.
  • Press the Escape and Function keys together as a Function Lock key.
  • The Function Lock option can be configured by booting into UEFI.

This article provides instructions for how to disable the function key on a Dell laptop.

How Do I Lock and Unlock the Fn Key?

Dell laptop keyboards with a Function key give you two sets of commands. You can use the top row as multimedia keys to toggle different PC settings or use them as standard function keys (F1–F12). But they cannot do both at the same time. If you want to use the F1-F12 keys for their secondary functions of controlling multimedia or your screen settings, use the steps here to disable them on the laptop.

The behavior of the Functions keys can be controlled by the Function Lock (Fn Lock) found under BIOS or UEFI settings.

Note:

Newer Dell computers come with UEFI. This Unified Extensible Firmware Interface has a more user-friendly interface compared to the legacy BIOS. The instructions and screenshots below refer to the UEFI mode of booting into Windows.

The setting to disable the Fn Lock is within the UEFI of your Dell laptop. Power on your laptop or reboot if already switched on. The F2 Function key is the access key to enter UEFI or BIOS on a Dell laptop.  

  1. To enter UEFI, press F2 when the Dell logo appears. Press every few seconds until the message Preparing to enter Setup appears.

  2. On the UEFI Settings screen, drill down to POST Behavior

    Fn Lock Options in UEFI Dell Windows Laptop
  3. Select the “+” to expand the options under POST Behavior

  4. Select Fn Lock Options.

  5. The Fn Lock is enabled by default. On the right, select the check box for Fn Lock if it’s unchecked.

  6. The Fn Lock has two options which are self-explanatory:

    • Lock Mode Disable/Standard: The F1-12 Keys behave as function keys. You must hold down the Function key and any of the F1-F12 keys to trigger a command.
    • Lock Mode Enable/Secondary: The F1-12 Keys control the secondary functions.

How Do I Disable the Fn Key?

There is no dedicated Fn Lock key on most Dell laptops to disable the F1 to F12 Function keys.

The Function Lock is enabled/disabled by pressing the Escape key (on the top row next to the F1 to F12 keys) and Function key (on the bottom row next to the Windows button) together like a toggle switch.

As you can see, on the Dell XPS 13, the Esc key has a tiny lock icon to indicate the Fn Lock.

Dell XPS 13 keyboard

When Function Lock is on, you don’t have to hold down the Function key to trigger the action. 

The Function keys (F1 to F12) have standard functions associated with them. For instance, press the F5 key in Chrome, and a webpage will refresh and reload. Increasing the playback volume could be the secondary function of the F5 key, as indicated by a small icon below the F5 label.  

Enabling Fn Lock allows you to execute any standard functions tied to the F1 through F12 keys without pressing the Function key always. Toggle off the Function Lock, and the F1-F12 keys will be disabled. For instance, press F5 now to increase the volume of the media playback.

When Fn Lock is disabled, you must press the Function key to use the F1 to F12 keys for their standard function. For instance, press the Fn key + F5 to refresh the Chrome page.

Tip:

Disable Function Lock and the F1-F12 keys if you want to use the top row of the keyboard for one-tap media control. To play games which use the F1-F12 keys, enable the Function Lock again. The toggle feature (Escape + Function key) makes it easy to swap the roles. 

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