Fkeys, QuarkXPress & Laptops

If your function keys (Fkeys) on your Mac don’t invoke the commands you expect them to in QuarkXPress (for example, if they change songs in iTunes instead of opening a QuarkXPress palette), read on…

On Mac portables and some desktop Macs, the function keys don’t work as function keys unless you hold down the fn key at the same time you press one. Instead, they change system settings such as sound level and display brightness.

If you want to reverse this behavior, so that pressing an Fkey invokes a software command, choose Apple menu> System Preferences> Keyboard & Mouse. Then in the Keyboard tab enable “Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys”. The Fkeys will then operate as expected in QuarkXPress and other apps, but you will need to hold down the fn key when you want to use them to adjust sound, brightness, etc.

Jay Nelson is the editorial director of, and the editor and publisher of Design Tools Monthly. He’s also the author of the QuarkXPress 8 and QuarkXPress 7 training titles at, as well as the training videos Quark includes in the box with QuarkXPress 7 . In addition, Jay writes regularly for Macworld and Photoshop User magazines and speaks at industry events.