How Many Keys Are on a Keyboard: Unveiling the Facts

Understanding the number of keys on a keyboard can be beneficial for your overall typing efficiency. While there is no single standard, most keyboards have around 104 to 105 keys. However, the exact number can vary depending on the model and manufacturer.

Types of Keyboards

When considering the number of keys on a keyboard, it’s essential to take into account that various keyboard layouts exist. In this section, we will discuss the main types of keyboard layouts: QWERTY, AZERTY, DVORAK, and others.


The QWERTY layout is the most common keyboard type you’ll encounter. It’s named after the first six letters on the top row of the alphabetical keys. Initially designed for early typewriters, this layout has become the standard for English-language keyboards. Most QWERTY keyboards have 104 keys, but some variations may include additional function or multimedia keys.


The AZERTY layout is primarily used in French-speaking countries. It’s named after the first six letters on the top row of alphabetical keys, similar to QWERTY. The main difference between these layouts is the placement of certain characters, making it easier for French speakers to type special characters and accents frequently used in their language.


The DVORAK layout, named after its creator August Dvorak, was designed to be more efficient and ergonomic than QWERTY. The placement of keys in this layout is intended to minimize finger movement, which can lead to increased typing speed and reduced fatigue. The layout is less common than QWERTY and AZERTY but has gained popularity among programmers and typists who prioritize comfort and efficiency.


Aside from the main keyboard layouts mentioned above, there are numerous other layouts designed for specific languages or purposes. Some examples include the Colemak layout, which emphasizes ergonomic typing, and the JCUKEN layout, used predominantly in Russian-speaking countries. Additionally, several non-alphabetic keyboard layouts cater to specific industries or applications, such as the Chorded layout, which allows for single-handed typing using key combinations.

Remember that the number of keys on a keyboard can vary depending on the layout and any additional features or customization. It’s helpful to understand these different types of keyboards when considering the number of keys and the efficiency or comfort of their designs.

Standard Keyboard Layout

Alphanumeric Keys

A standard keyboard layout, such as the QWERTY design, has a set of alphanumeric keys that include letters, numbers, and punctuation symbols. These keys are arranged in rows, with the QWERTY letters on the top row, numbers 0-9 on the second row, and common punctuation symbols on the third and fourth rows. The bottom row contains the space bar and special characters such as the comma, period, and question mark. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the positioning of keys on a keyboard to enhance your typing experience.

Function Keys

Function keys are located at the top of the keyboard and are labeled as F1 through F12. These keys serve various purposes depending on the programs or applications you are using. For instance, F1 is generally used to access help menus, while F5 may refresh a webpage or document. Keep in mind that the specific function of each key may vary depending on the software or operating system.

Modifier Keys

Modifier keys include the Shift, Ctrl (Control), Alt, and, for some keyboards, the Windows key (or Command key for Mac). When pressed in combination with other keys, modifier keys allow you to perform specific actions or execute shortcuts. For example, pressing Ctrl+C will copy selected text, while Shift+arrow keys allow you to select text in a document.

Navigation Keys

Navigation keys help you move the cursor or the active element within a software application. They include the arrow keys (up, down, left, and right), Home, End, PgUp (Page Up), PgDn (Page Down), and sometimes specific function keys like F3 for search. Navigation keys are essential for quick and efficient navigation within documents, web pages, and other applications.

Numeric Keypad

Standard keyboards often have a numeric keypad located on the right side, which features a layout of numbers from 0-9, mathematical operators (+, -, *, /), and the Enter key. The numeric keypad makes entering numerical data or performing calculations much easier and faster. Note that some compact keyboards, laptops, or 75% keyboards may not have a numeric keypad to save space or increase portability.

By understanding these various sections of a standard keyboard layout, you will be better equipped to navigate and operate your keyboard efficiently. Familiarizing yourself with each key’s location and functions can significantly improve your typing speed and overall productivity.

Factors Affecting the Number of Keys

When considering the number of keys on a keyboard, it’s crucial to understand that several factors can influence this figure. One primary factor is the keyboard size and layout. Full-sized keyboards typically have 104 keys, including alphanumeric keys, function keys, a number pad, and control keys. Smaller keyboards, such as Tenkeyless (TKL) and compact ones, have fewer keys, ranging from 87 to 84.

Another factor affecting the number of keys is the keyboard manufacturer. Different companies produce keyboards with varying key counts, based on their design decisions and target audience. This means that keyboards from different manufacturers may not have the same number of keys. Moreover, certain specialized keyboards, such as gaming keyboards, may include extra macro or programmable keys.

The language and region also play a role in determining the number of keys. Keyboards designed for different languages often vary in the number and arrangement of keys to accommodate language-specific characters and symbols. For example, a keyboard designed for the US market may have a different key count than one intended for the UK or French markets.

Lastly, user preferences and accessibility needs can impact the number of keys. Some users may require keyboards with larger keys, Braille, or other assistive features. These modifications can lead to a higher or lower number of keys, depending on the specific requirements.

In conclusion, keep in mind that the number of keys on a keyboard is influenced by size, layout, manufacturer, language, and user preferences. While there isn’t a single standard, understanding these factors will help you make an informed decision when selecting the right keyboard for your needs.

Keyboards for Different Operating Systems

When you’re looking for a keyboard, it’s important to consider the operating system you will be using it with. Different operating systems may have specific key layouts and functionalities, affecting the overall number of keys on the keyboard.

For Windows users, you may find a keyboard with 104 alphanumeric keys. This layout includes the standard QWERTY keys, numeric keypad, and function keys. Most Windows-compatible keyboards also have a Windows logo key, which serves as a shortcut to bring up the Start menu or other Windows-specific functions. You can learn more about it from Microsoft Support.

For Apple users, the keyboards usually have fewer keys, with the most noticeable difference being the absence of a numeric keypad on smaller models. However, these keyboards have unique keys such as the Command key that replaces the Windows logo key and serves specific functions exclusive to macOS. Furthermore, macOS keyboard layouts may vary based on language preferences and regions.

Linux users have more flexibility in choosing keyboards, as many models designed for Windows can also work with Linux operating systems. Linux users might notice that some keyboards include a dedicated key for launching the terminal or other Linux-specific actions. Function keys may also serve different purposes based on the Linux distribution being used.

In addition to the operating system, some keyboards are designed specifically for certain applications or industries. For example, gaming keyboards often feature customizable keys and RGB backlighting. Graphic designers or video editors might prefer a keyboard with additional programmable keys to streamline their workflow.

In summary, the number of keys on a keyboard can vary based on the intended operating system and specific use. Be sure to research and select a keyboard that best suits your unique needs and preferences.

Keyboards for Specialized Purposes

While standard computer keyboards typically consist of 101 keys, there are specialized keyboards designed to cater to specific requirements or tasks. Such keyboards may feature additional keys, functions, or a unique layout to enhance your productivity.

If you work with multimedia applications or need quick access to shortcuts, you might benefit from using a keyboard with dedicated function keys. Some of these specialized keyboards include 24 function keys for PCs, ranging from F1 to F24, whereas Apple desktop keyboards may have 19 function keys (F1 to F19). These keys allow you to access certain functions or tasks more directly.

Compact keyboards are another example of specialized design. By removing the numeric keypad and F function keys, these keyboards create a smaller footprint. Through key combinations, you can still access the F function keys and the numeric keypad if needed. This kind of keyboard is especially useful if you have limited desk space or prioritize portability. An example of a popular compact keyboard is the Logitech K380.

In gaming setups, mechanical keyboards are a highly sought-after choice. With each key having its own mechanical switch, these keyboards often provide more tactile feedback and faster response times. Some gaming keyboards also include customizable backlighting, macro keys, and ergonomic wrist rests for enhanced comfort during long gaming sessions.

Remember, choosing the right specialized keyboard for your needs can significantly improve your computing experience. So, it’s essential to evaluate your specific requirements and preferences before making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many keys are on a standard QWERTY keyboard?

A standard QWERTY keyboard typically has 101 keys, which include alphabet, number, function, navigation, and symbol keys. However, some keyboards may have a slightly different number of keys.

What is the difference in key count between 100% and 60% keyboards?

A 100% keyboard generally has 104 keys, while a 60% keyboard has around 61 keys. The main difference lies in the absence of certain keys, such as the function row, numeric keypad, and navigation keys on the 60% keyboard, which makes it more compact and portable.

How many keys are typically on a laptop keyboard?

Laptop keyboards can vary in the number of keys, but they generally have fewer keys than a standard keyboard due to space constraints. Most laptop keyboards have between 78 and 88 keys, with some function and special keys combined or omitted to save space.

What are the primary functions of special keys on a keyboard?

Special keys on a keyboard serve various purposes, such as adjusting volume, opening specific applications, or controlling media playback. Special keys can also include modifier keys (Shift, Ctrl, Alt) used to provide alternative functions for specific keys when pressed together.

How do keyboard shortcuts involve multiple keys?

Keyboard shortcuts are combinations of two or more keys that perform a specific action or function when pressed simultaneously. These shortcuts can help you to work more efficiently and navigate programs quickly. For example, pressing Ctrl and C together will copy the selected text or item on most systems.

What are the general categories of keys on a keyboard?

Keys on a keyboard can be broadly divided into several categories: alphanumeric keys comprising letters and numbers; function keys (F1 to F12) typically used for specific tasks within applications; navigation keys like arrows, Page Up/Down, and Home/End; special character keys for punctuation and symbols; and modifier keys (Shift, Ctrl, Alt) that change the function of other keys when pressed together.