The general keyboard layout
Figure 5-2 illustrates a typical laptop keyboard layout, where all of the common
keys found on the whopping desktop keyboard are scrunched down to laptop
size. The design intends to let you type without the risk of breaking any fingers.
As with a desktop keyboard, you should be able to identify the following
basic items on your laptop keyboard:
- Alphanumeric, or “typewriter,” keys. These are the basic typing keys,
each of which is labeled with a character (a letter, number, or punctuation
symbol). When typing on the computer, pressing a key produces its
character on the screen.
- Shift keys. The keyboard sports various shift keys used either alone or
in combination with other keys. These include Shift, Alt, Ctrl, and the
special Windows keys, Win and Context. The Win key appears in the
bottom row between the Fn and Alt key in Figure 5-2; the Context key
appears between Alt and Ctrl. Also note the Esc, or Escape, key found at
the beginning of the top row of keys.
- Function keys. These keys are labeled F1 through F12 and are found on
the top row of the keyboard, right above the number keys.
- Cursor control keys. These keys could be anywhere around the keyboard,
though in Figure 5-2, they’re on the top and bottom right. They
include the four directional arrow keys, usually found in an inverted “T”
pattern, as well as the Insert (or Ins), Delete (or Del), Home, End, PgUp
(or Page Up), PgDn (or Page Down) keys.
- Numeric keypad. This is covered in the next section.
Note that the alphanumeric keys are generally the largest, often the same size
and with the same travel, or feel, that a desktop computer keyboard offers.
Some keys are small, Chiclet-sized keys. These are the less important and not
often used keys, such as the function keys and the cursor control keys.
The text on some keys is color coded. That generally tells you which keys are
used in conjunction with each other. For example, if the Alt key is green and
the Num Lock key is green, that means that the Alt+Num Lock key combination
is required to use Num Lock. (Also refer to the section, “The Fn key is the
Fun key!” later in this chapter.)
At one point in the computer’s history, the Function keys were programmable;
you could tell the computer what to do when each key was pressed. In
Windows, however, the function keys have taken on specific functions. For
example, F1 is the Help key.
The cursor control keys are used to move the text cursor when editing text in
Windows. They can also be used to help navigate through the Web. The keys
may take on other functions in other programs as well.
Some keys are labeled with images or icons instead of text. For example, I’ve
seen the Caps Lock key labeled with the letter “A” and a padlock symbol.
Your keyboard may have more or fewer keys than those shown in Figure 5-2,
and the arrangement might be different.
Where did the numeric keypad go?
The first thing the laptop designers decided to sacrifice on their keyboards
was the numeric keypad. But rather than just saw off that end of the keyboard,
laptops since the Model 100 have used a combination numeric keypad/alpha
This combination can be seen on your laptop by examining the 7, 8, and 9
keys. You’ll note that these are also the top three keys found on the numeric
keypad. Because of this, a shadow keypad is created using the right side of
the alpha keyboard, illustrated in Figure 5-3. The trick, of course, is knowing
how to turn the thing on and off.
Attempt these steps to turn the Num Lock on or off:
1. Open a program you can type in, such as Notepad.
You can find Notepad by choosing Start -> All
Programs -> Accessories -> Notepad.
2. Type I just love Kimmy into Notepad.
You’ll find out why you adore Kimmy in a few steps.
3. Find the Num Lock light on your laptop’s strip of lights.
The light is your confirmation that you’re in Num Lock mode and can
use the embedded numeric keypad. (See Table 5-2.)
4. Find the Num Lock key on your laptop’s keyboard.
Somewhere on your keyboard is a Num Lock key. It might be called
NumLock, or NumLk, or Num, or it might even be labeled with a symbol,
as shown in the margin. Locate that key.
5. Attempt to activate Num Lock.
Press the Num Lock key. If nothing happens, then try Shift+Num Lock.
If the text Num Lock is listed in a different color, find the matching color
key, such as Alt or Fn. Then press that key in combination with Num Lock.
You’re successful when the Num Lock light comes on. At that point, the
keyboard has switched into numeric keypad mode.
6. Try to type I just love Kimmy again.
It won’t work. You’ll get something like: 14st 36ve 500y. That’s
because most of the keys on the right side of the keyboard now have
their numeric keypad abilities activated. It’s great for entering numbers
or working a spreadsheet, but rather frustrating at other times.
7. Deactivate Num Lock.
Press whatever key combination you used to turn it on.
8. Close Notepad.
There is no need to save the document.
Try to remember which key combination you used to activate the numeric
keypad. Write it down in the book’s Cheat Sheet just in case you forget.