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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices | System BIOS | BIOS Setup Program ]

Typical Key Controls

Most setup programs show on the screen itself the keys to use to select and change various options; some instead use a very limited help screen, normally accessed with the F1 key. The following keys are pretty much universal:

  • {Enter} is normally used to select a menu or sub-area.
  • The arrow keys are used to move between settings (in rare cases, they are used to change the selected setting).
  • {Page Up} and {Page Down} or {+} and {-} are the two most common pairs of keys for modifying the current setting.
  • {Tab} can also sometimes be used to move between sections or settings.
  • {Esc} is normally used to move up the menu hierarchy one level, and in some BIOSes it is used to quit out of the setup program as well.

The newer AMI BIOSes are graphical; you put a standard serial mouse on the first serial port and a faux Windows screen pops up with the settings in little "program groups". If you don't have a mouse or it isn't working, you can access this program using keys as well. (I tried it with a PS/2-style mouse once and it didn't work, strange that they wouldn't support this... could be that I did something wrong.)

Note: Some BIOSes have the ability to bypass some of the extended settings during boot, by holding down the {Ins} key during the boot process. This can be useful in the event that you make such incorrect settings that the BIOS cannot even boot (which can happen, though it takes talent. :^) ) Check your motherboard manual to see if your machine can do this.

Next: BIOS Settings

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