Quickly Access System Preferences Tied To Function Keys in Lion [OS X Tips]



Mac OS X Lion has a lot of hidden features tied to the keyboard that are easy to miss. There are all kinds of key sequences that act as shortcuts to various system features. The tip for today will show you how to quickly access the System Preferences panes related to the function keys at the top of the keyboard on your Mac.

There are a variety of keyboards that you can use with your Mac so this tip assumes that  the keyboard you are using is either made by Apple or closely resembles it.

Apple keyboards like the one on my MacBook Air or Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard offer function keys labeled F1 to F12. Each of these keys performs a specific function. On the MacBook Air the keys do the following:

  • F1-F2 Dim or brighten the display.
  • F3 Launch Mission Control.
  • F4 Enter Launchpad.
  • F5-F6  Dim or brighten keyboard backlighting.
  • F7 Control playback reverse or previous.
  • F8 Control playback play or pause.
  • F9 Control playback forward or next.
  • F10  Volume mute.
  • F11 Volume lower.
  • F12 Volume raise.

If you press the Option key and the following function keys at the same time this is what happens on the MacBook Air:

Option+F1 or Option+F2  – Displays opens in System Preferences.

Option+F3 – Mission Control opens in System Preferences.

Option+F5 or Option+F6 – Keyboard opens in System Preferences.

Option+F10, Option+F11, or Option+F12 – Sound opens in System Preferences.

Similar options are available to you on your Mac just give each one a whirl and see what happens.


  • Robert Pruitt

    Neat article.  More advanced options would be appreciated also.