Fix: Function keys not working

A function key is a key on a keyboard which is usually programmed to perform certain actions such as changing volume, brightness etc. These keys are more dominant in laptops as compared to PCs.

We in today’s age tend to upgrade the version of Windows every now and then or install an update. There are several reports that after performing such updates, the function keys stop working entirely. This may be either due to the correct drivers not being installed or some services might not be started up.

Since each laptop has a different manufacturer, we have tried to cover all the possible solutions. You can make changes or adjust the workaround according to your build.

Solution 1: Starting ‘VAIO Event Service’

As the name suggests, this solution is targeted to users using the Sony VAIO series laptops. The Fn (function) keys which are used to control the brightness or volume stop working all of a sudden after formatting the laptop or installing a Windows update. We will try checking for ‘VAIO event service’ and turn it on if it is turned off.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “services.msc” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
  2. Once in services, navigate through all the list until you find “VAIO Event Service”. Right-click it and select “Properties”.

  1. Now select the startup type as “Automatic”. If you are not able to change the startup type, you can start the service by clicking “Start” and then change the startup type. After you are not performing the changes, save and exit.
  2. Now check if the problem at hand got solved.

Solution 2: Checking HKserv in Startup

There is a list in Windows which allows applications to boot themselves up whenever Windows starts up. This list is called “Startup list” and can be accessed easily by the user. There was another indication by Sony users where they indicated that there was a startup service named as HKserv which if not enabled, will cause immense problems while starting up or clicking these buttons. You should make sure that this startup item is enabled on your computer.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “msconfig” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
  2. Once in System Configuration, navigate to the Startup tab. Here several items will be listed. Search for “HKserv”. Once you have spotted it, make sure it is checked.
  3. After making the necessary changes, check if the problem got solved.

If HKserv is not present in the list of startup items, you should reinstall Hotkey Utility and Sony Utilities Library. After installing, reboot your computer completely and follow the instructions listed above.

Tip: In the newer versions of Windows, you might be redirected to the task manager when you try to manage the startup items. Don’t worry and search there. If you cannot, navigate to the services tab and check your luck there.

Solution 3: Disabling Function lock

Like we discussed problems with Sony VAIO laptops, the same problem (function key) not working also occurs in Dell laptops. Like we mentioned before, each manufacturer has its own configurations regarding hotkeys. In case of DELL, a simple workaround solves the problem instantly.

Press Fn + Esc key on your keyboard and then try accessing the function commands such as try changing the brightness again. The terminology behind the workaround is that there are function locks present on the keyboard which locks the functions from being accessed

If you have a laptop of some other manufacturer, you should try searching for a function lock button somewhere on your keyboard. It will be a key denoting F lock or F mode. Click it once and check if this solves the problem.

There are several different combinations you can try:

  • Function key (Fn) + Blue Function Key (Escape Key)
  • Control + Alt + Numlock
  • Function key (Fn) + Numlock
  • Function key (Fn) + Windows button + Alt
  • Function (Fn) + Alt

Solution 4: Changing option through Windows Mobility Center

Windows mobility center installed by default on most of the laptops. It displays a streamlined interface consisting of various shortcuts for settings. Most of the time, many manufacturers add their own settings and integrate it in the mobility center. DELL is one such example. We will change the setting of Function Key Row and see if this solves the problem for us.

  1. Press Windows + S, type “Window Mobility Center” and open the application. If the application doesn’t return using the search, you can navigate to it using the control panel.
  2. Now locate Function Key Row or Function Key Behavior. Select the drop-down and click Function key.

  1. Press Apply to save changes and exit. Now check if the problem got solved.

Solution 5: Checking Function Key Behaviour at BIOS

The BIOS also contains an option from where you can change the function key behavior. We will navigate to the BIOS when your computer and see if the option selected is correct. If it isn’t, we will change it. Do refrain from changing settings which you have no idea of. Doing so might change critical settings and render your laptop useless.

  1. Enter the BIOS of your computer by pressing F2 when the computer powers on and the logo of the manufacturer (such as DELL) comes.
  2. Now select “System Setup (BIOS)”.
  3. Navigate to the “Advanced tab” by pressing the right and left arrow keys.
  4. Now use the up and down arrow keys and look for the option “Function Key Behavior”. Make sure that the option “Function Key” is selected.

  1. Save changes and restart your computer. Now check if the problem got solved.

Solution 6: Reinstalling the HotKey Utility

Most laptops come with a hotkey utility which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. This utility package contains all the necessary drivers needed to make enable the functionality of the function keys.

Like we stated throughout the article, there is no specific driver which is generic for all the laptops out there. You have to navigate to your manufacturer’s website and download the required drivers such as “HP Hotkey Support”.

The drivers will go by several different names such as “Special Function key support”. Another thing for you try is resetting the BIOS settings to default and then if the function keys still don’t work, install the required drivers again.

Note: Resetting the BIOS will set all the values as default. Proceed at your own risk and understand the consequences.

  1. Turn off your laptop/notebook. Also, unplug the AC Adapter so you can take out the battery.
  2. After removing the battery, press the power button for 1 whole minute. Later on, insert the battery again and plug the AC Adapter back on.
  3. Now start the laptop/notebook and keep pressing F10 to enter the BIOS. Now look for the key to set the default values to the BIOS. The key will most probably be F5.
  4. Now press the Esc key to save changes and exit. Restart your computer and check if you can properly access the function keys.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.