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Updated: 08/02/2019 by Computer Hope

A computer keyboard is one of the
primary input devices used with a computer.
Similar to an electric typewriter, a keyboard is
composed of buttons that
create letters, numbers, and symbols, as well as
perform other functions. The following sections
provide more in-depth information and answers
to some of the more frequently asked questions
about the keyboard.

 Keyboard overview

 QWERTY keyboard layout

 Keyboard ports and interfaces

 Types of keyboards

 Laptop keyboards

 Smartphone and tablet keyboards

 Why is the keyboard an input device?

 What are multimedia keys?

 How to use a keyboard

 How can I improve my typing?

 When was the first keyboard invented?

 Keyboard shortcut keys

 Related keyboard pages

 Computer keyboard help and support.

Keyboard overview
The following image shows a 104-
key Saitek keyboard with arrows pointing to
each section including the control
keys, function keys, LED indicators, wrist
pad, arrow keys, and keypad.

QWERTY keyboard layout

Below is a close up image of
a QWERTY computer keyboard with each of
the keys selectable. You may hover your
mouse cursor over any of the keys below to
see a description; clicking any of the keys
will open a new page with full details.
 Computer keyboard key explanations.

Keyboard ports and interfaces

Today, most desktop computer keyboards

connect to the computer using
either USB or Bluetooth for wireless communi
cation. Before USB, a computer may have
used PS/2, serial port, or AT (Din5) as a
keyboard interface.

 How to connect and install a keyboard.

Types of keyboards
Today, most keyboards are similar to each
other, but may be missing one or more of
the sections mentioned earlier (e.g., the
keypad). Where keyboards begin to differ the
most is with their constructions. Some
keyboards are mechanical, other's use
membrane keys. Other keyboards are split
down the middle and some even fold in half
or roll up. While most keyboards use
the QWERTY layout, there are still people
who use the DVORAK layout.

 How many keys are on a computer keyboard?

Laptop keyboards
A laptop keyboard is arranged differently
than a desktop keyboard to accommodate
the laptop's narrower footprint. Most laptop
keyboards are made smaller by placing the
keys closer and by including an Fn key. The
Fn key is used in conjunction with other keys
to perform special functions. For example,
pressing the Fn key and the up or down
arrow on the keyboard shown below,
increases and decreases the brightness of
the screen. Furthermore, many laptop
keyboards omit the numeric keypad to save

Smartphone and tablet keyboards

Today's smartphones and tablets do not

come with a physical keyboard, although it
may be purchased as an
optional peripheral add-on. These devices
utilize a thumb keyboard or on-screen
keyboard to type messages and enter text
into various fields. The image to the right
shows an example of the Apple iPhone on-
screen keyboard, used on all Apple's touch-
based devices.

Why is the keyboard an input device?

A computer keyboard is considered an input
device because it only sends data to a
computer and does not receive any
information back.

What are multimedia keys?

Multimedia keys are those keys which allow
the user to control music on their computer
keyboard. These keys add functionality such
as play, pause, stop, rewind, fast-forward,
skip track, eject, shuffle, and repeat.