Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Resetting a Function Key.

Resetting a Function Key

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 24, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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. Use 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. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, click the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box, click Customize (Word 2007) or Customize Ribbon (later versions).
  3. Near the bottom of the dialog box, click the Customize button. Word displays the Customize Keyboard dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Customize Keyboard dialog box.

  5. In the Categories list, choose All Commands.
  6. 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.
  7. If Shift+F3 is not listed in the Current Keys box, click once in the Press New Shortcut Key box and press Shift+F3.
  8. 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 (9474) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Resetting a Function Key.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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