I would like to know if there is any application that can enable you use use Fn keys differently based on the current application.

For example in terminal or you favourite IDE you want to use them as standard function keys but for other applications you want to keep the default Apple keys.

  • 2
    The new MacBook with TouchBar does exactly what you asked for (six years ago).
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 15, 2017 at 13:41
  • Unfortunately, the preference for the TouchBar function does not carry over to the external keyboard. So I still use Fluor on my TouchBar MacBook. (It's a great app too!)
    – noio
    Jul 25, 2018 at 9:21

5 Answers 5


Fluor is a relative newcomer to this space that does exactly what you want:

Fluor is a tool that allows you to automatically change the behaviour of the keyboard's fn keys depending on the active application.

It is open source, works on macOs Sierra and is actively developed (as of March 2017).

  • 2
    Indeed, Fluor does exactly this. Really good. :)
    – Grogs
    Apr 5, 2017 at 23:06
  • 4
    Also very easy to install and run: brew cask install fluor, then just run from the Applications menu. Once Palua stopped working I migrated to Fluor and am very happy with it
    – checketts
    Jul 6, 2017 at 16:24
  • FYI: @checketts is referring to Homebrew: brew.sh
    – Motsel
    Aug 2, 2020 at 11:25
  • 1
    github says "This README is out-of-date" - but there is no references where to find up-to-date info
    – skywinder
    Aug 7, 2021 at 4:22
  • 4
    Good news from 2022. It's still working on M1. (macOS Monterey 12.1) Feb 5 at 11:03

FunctionFlip might be what you're looking for.

FunctionFlip's purpose is simply to disable the special features — rewind, play, mute, etc. — on the function keys. For example, if you "flip" F7, F8, and F9, those keys — only those keys — will revert back to normal F keys. Press the fn key with the special key to get the special function back. That is, the "special" and "normal" functions are flipped.

To assign a custom shortcuts to your reclaimed keys, use a program like Quicksilver or Keyboard Maestro.

  • I've edited your post with more information, @ron, but just pasting links is not how things work here. Please the the faq for more. Oct 25, 2011 at 15:51
  • @LoïcWolff No problem.
    – ron
    Oct 25, 2011 at 18:20
  • FunctionFlip does not seem to work any more since Big Sur.
    – Ian
    Dec 21, 2020 at 8:33

Palua will do exactlly what you need.

Introducing Palua, the easy way to quickly switch the mode of your Function Keys on any Mac keyboard!

You need to run a game, or start a graphic application, or work on a project that need F1-F12 as function keys, just hit option+command+TAB and the switch will happen.

Smart Mode: Key mode changes with the application that has the focus.

  • The link to Palua doesn't work, go here itunes.apple.com/us/app/palua/id431494195?mt=12
    – fredw
    Jul 11, 2015 at 6:49
  • 1
    Unfortunately Palua doesn't work with el capitan. I ended up setting the default to function keys (with keyboard pref pane) as I generally use those and using Keyboard Maestro to remap some of them back to the special apple keys.
    – jonaustin
    Nov 26, 2015 at 18:19
  • 1
    As of today Palua has disappeared from the App Store and internet in general.
    – krs013
    Mar 10, 2016 at 4:46
  • I am not certain, but I think Palua used to work on El Capitan. I tried running it from bash, /Applications/Palua.app/Contents/MacOS/Palua, but got this error. "2016-03-19 23:07:40.302 Palua[21714:183915] Palua must exit, the Mac Apple Store Receipt is invalid."
    – sigjuice
    Mar 20, 2016 at 6:11
  • @ksr013 I was very disappointed not being able to find Palua any more. I started to love this small app. Any idea where it could've gone?
    – preeze
    Jun 3, 2016 at 10:09

There is an app - FNable - that can help you (works with El Capitan as well).

It can switch Fn keys based on app or using a shortcut.

It is no longer available on App Store, so here is their website: https://fnable.com/

  • No longer available in the App Store. Haha they all disappear.
    – huyz
    Jul 9, 2018 at 0:31

I don't know what keys you need, but for me the easiest solution was to use all of them as standard function keys amnd using bowtie with global shortcuts to keep F7-F12 as media keys, while having F1-F6 as standard function keys.

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