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Resetting a Function Key

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Resetting a Function Key.

Peter noted that up to some months ago, while working on a Word document, he could select some text and, by pressing Shift+F3, change the case of the selected text. Now when Peter presses this function key it makes Excel launch. He wonders how he can reset the Shift+F3 function key so it works like it should work.

The first thing to check here is at what "level" the function key is operating. Function keys can have various purposes within Windows itself and within Word. If there is a conflict between the purpose of a particular function key in Windows and the purpose of that function key in Word, then the purpose in Windows takes precedence.

The easiest way to figure out the level at which the function key is operating is to just get out of Word (close the program completely) and then try the function key. If Shift+F3 still opens Excel while Word is closed, then the function key has been programmed within Windows to start Excel. This programming overrides anything that the function key may do within Word. Uses these steps to correct the situation:

  1. Within Windows, click the Start button and "drill down" until you find the Excel program. (You need to find it in the Start menu hierarchy, not within the Windows Explorer.)
  2. Right-click the Excel program and choose Properties from the resulting Context menu. Windows displays the Shortcut tab of the Properties dialog box for the Excel program.
  3. Delete anything that may appear in the Shortcut Key box.
  4. Click on Apply, then click OK.

That should do it; you should be able to jump into Word and the function key should work as you expect. If it doesn't, then you should check to see if Shift+F3 has been customized within Word. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Customize from the Tools menu. Word displays the Customize dialog box.
  2. Click the Keyboard button. Word displays the Customize Keyboard dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Customize Keyboard dialog box.

  4. In the Categories list, choose All Commands.
  5. In the Commands list, choose the ChangeCase command. You should see, in the dialog box, the shortcut keys that have been assigned to the command.
  6. If Shift+F3 is not listed in the Current Keys box, click once in the Press New Shortcut Key box and press Shift+F3.
  7. Close both of the open dialog boxes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9473) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Resetting a Function Key.

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