Congratulations, you finally have a Surface Pro 3, and this isn’t just an ordinary tablet, this is perhaps the best device Microsoft created that can actually replace your laptop. But… Now that you got one, besides browsing the internet and editing files, what’s else can you do? How can you be more productive? Well, this is what this guide filled with tips and tricks is for.
Although there are too many things you can do with Surface, today I’ll share with you my favorite tips and tricks that you might not know about to be more productive:
Taking a screenshot
Press the home button () on the side + the volume button downwards at the same time. The screen will dim for a fraction of a second, like if you were taking a picture, to indicate a screenshot has been taken. The image will save automatically in the Screenshots folder inside the Pictures.
Selecting photos, files, and other items
Use a gently downwards/upwards gesture with one finger on a photo, file, or any other item. To deselect simply perform the same gesture again. This works with one or multiple selections.
In the Music app, though, you have to flick swipe left/right to select and deselect items.
Select multiple emails on the Mail app
You can select multiple emails by simply swiping from right to left each email you want to select, that being to delete, mark as read, or junk. This work in the Mail app for Windows 8.
Accessing Automatic Repair options
Although, you can access recovery options from PC settings, if Surface isn’t booting the right way, you can easily press and hold the power button as soon it starts booting. This will obviously shutdown Windows incorrectly, but by performing the action three times, Windows will automatically boot into the Automatic Repair environment, where to can diagnose and fix the operating system.
Quick access to the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del Alternative)
At any time you can press the home button + the power button to bring up a screen menu with the option to Lock, Switch user, Sign out, and access to the Task Manager.
Wake Surface Pro 3 (the other way)
Of course, waking up your tablet is as easy as hitting the power button, but there is another way: simply tap 3-4 times the home button. This works best if you left the tablet unlocked and after a few minutes you come back and you find the tablet is sleeping.
Slide to show down Surface Pro 3
You can shutdown Windows 8.x in a number of ways, but there yet another way, simply press and hold the power button for about 3-4 seconds, and instead of Windows shut downing directly, you’ll be prompted to perform the “Slide to shut down your PC” gesture.
Add picture folders to the Photo app
While you can easily add local and network sources to the Video and Music apps, you cannot do the same with the Photo app. You only have access to Pictures Libraries and OneDrive. So to browse photos from other locations, including from the microSD card do the following: Go to the Windows Explorer, from the left pane, right-click and select Show libraries, right-click on the Pictures library, select Properties, and add new locations — these can be local, networked, and from the external microSD card.
Listen music from your Windows 8 PC on Surface Pro 3
This is a more broader topic, but basically the Xbox Music service allows you match the music you have stored in your PC with the service catalog, allowing you to stream those songs to other devices, such as Surface Pro 3.
To enable this feature, open the Music app in your PC, go to the app’s settings, click Preferences, and under “Cloud collection”, make sure both options are switched “On”. Then simply open the Music app in your Surface Pro 3 and like magic, you’ll start seeing your music collection popping up.
If find this feature very useful for tablets and phones, because often times these type of devices have limited storage space, and having a Cloud collection is a great way to save disk space.
Save documents to OneDrive by default
Every byte counts on mobile devices nowadays, more and more, devices such as tablets and phones come with limited disk space. So where you save your files to avoid running out of space? For Windows users the best solution is OneDrive and Windows 8.x has this service integrated right at its heart, but not many people know that it can easily be configured to be the primary location to save files — and yes, you can store: documents, music, videos, and photos –.
To save files directly to OneDrive without extra steps, simply go to PC settings, tap on OneDrive, and make sure you have the option “Save documents to OneDrive by default” is “On”.
Like most people, I’m also skeptical about cloud storage and who is looking after my data, but at the end if I have to choose a company, Microsoft is my first choice.
Double click to maximize apps
This is an easy and useful tip, when you are working with multiple apps using Snap mode and using the Type Cover. You can easily maximize a specific app by simply hovering the mouse pointer over the black app title bar and double-clicking it. Repeating the action will snap the app back.
Faster Internet Explorer browsing by block only annoying ads
Although, I don’t encourage blocking advertisements, as they help us to be online and pay the bills, some website have really annoying ads and they also slowdown our browsing experience.
Launch the desktop version of IE, click or tap the gear menu, access Manage add-ons, under Tracking Protection, click Get a Tracking Protection List online, then simply choose the list you prefer click Add, then Add List.
Wallpapers add personality to our desktop and Start screen (if enabled), one issue, though, is that when you grab the tablet in portrait mode, you’ll notice a black bar at the top and bottom of the screen. This happens because the picture position isn’t configured correctly. Go to Desktop, right-click and select Personalize, choose the theme you want to use and click Desktop Background at the bottom of the screen. Now make sure Picture position setting is configured to Fill. Then click or tap Save changes, and now every time you rotate the screen, the wallpaper will adapt accordingly.
Sync Windows settings between Windows 8.x PCs and Surface
One of the great features of Windows 8.x is the integration with OneDrive, which basically allows you and Windows to have a central location to store settings and data. And the beauty is that these Windows settings can sync among all your Windows 8.x PCs.
To have a consistent experience between all your Windows 8.x PCs and Surface Pro 3, go to PC settings, tap on OneDrive, navigate to Sync settings, and choose what settings should roam between computers — Start screen, background, themes, taskbar, apps, browser history, open tabs, passwords, and much more.
From here you can also back up settings, so if you replace your Surface Pro 3 in the future, you can easily sync all the setting back to the new tablet.
Reclaim disk space
Every time you refresh your Surface Pro 3, or previous versions, a Windows.old folder will be created at the root of the hard drive (C:/). This folder contains the previous operating system installation and it can easily eat a lot of precious GigaBytes. But of course you can delete this folder. To do this go to This PC, right-click the C:/ drive, select Properties, click to tap Disk Cleanup, then click or tap Cleanup system files, and finally make sure the Windows.old folder is checked, and perform the clean up. (Refer to the previous guide for more details.)
Flip ahead to move between web page
In the modern Internet Explorer for Windows 8, Microsoft introduced a new option called Flip Ahead, which basically allows to the next and previous web page by simply swiping the screen left or right. Here is the trick: Don’t swipe from the edge because you’ll get Charms or the list of recent apps, instead swipe from anywhere in the middle of the screen.
Force the virtual keyboard to appear
At times when you tap the address bar on Internet Explorer or you simply need to type something without the Type Cover, the virtual keyboard won’t appear automatically. For these situation, you’ll be better off forcing the virtual keyboard to open. To do this, swipe from the right to bring the Charms, tap Settings, and tap Touch keyboard and handwriting panel. Also if you have different languages keyboard setup, here will be place where you can switch them.
Re-position the virtual keyboard
This only works on the Desktop, but when you need to type something, you can also re-position the virtual keyboard anywhere in the screen, just tap and hold the top edge and move it around. There is also an option to dock the virtual keyboard in place by taping maximize button next to the close button.
Virtual keyboard emotions
With the built-in virtual keyboard, you can do more than just type, you can also add emotions. Simply tap the smiley face, next to the space bar, to access the emotions. Also use the arrow button to navigate between all the 7 pages.
Virtual keyboard layouts
In Windows 8.x, you can choose among 4 different keyboard layout: traditional, split, handwriting, and full size keyboard. Try which one will suite best, but you can also switch by taping the keyboard button in the bottom-right corner of the virtual keyboard.
Don’t change the default browser
If you’re using your Surface Pro 3, the best way to browse the web with touch is using the modern version of Internet Explorer. If want to be able to keep using the modern IE, when you install a new web browser software don’t make it the default, as you’ll lose access to the modern IE.
Quickly check time and battery
At any time if you need to see the time and battery status from the Metro environment, simply swipe from the right edge to bring Charms and from the left you’ll see the time and battery status from any app.
Use PIN password
You like to have a strong password, but you hate having to type it every time? Then use PIN password. Using a PIN password in Windows will still keep your Surface Pro 3 secure and you can only access the device with the four numbers key when you’re in front of the device, for network access you’ll still need to type the original password. (Follow this instructions to set a PIN password.)
Move quickly between apps
In Windows 8.x, Microsoft included a ton of gestures to navigate the operating system, for example to move between open Windows 8 apps and Desktop, simply swipe quickly from left to move between apps.
Open contextual menu on Desktop
Many users may ask: Where is the right-click when I’m not using the mouse? However this is quite easy, simply tap, hold, and release to view the contextual menu for a specific item. This works anywhere in the Desktop mode.
Move quickly between two apps
If you’re working with two different apps, you can switch back and forth by simply tapping the Windows button, instead of complex navigation.
Apps bandwidth utilization
If you are in a metered network connection to access the internet, it’s important to understand which apps are using the most bandwidth to no go over your cap and avoid extra charges. Right-click or tap, hold, and release, on the Desktop’s Taskbar, go to Task Manager (More details), and then navigate to App History. There you’ll find a network, CPU time, metered network, and Tile updates information for each Windows 8 app.
You can also click the link “Delete usage history” to reset all the counter and start over. This is very convenient for users with internet caps, so the can control bandwidth on the monthly basis.
Although you don’t need to close apps in Windows 8.x, because the operating system is smart enough to manage apps and automatically terminate them as resources are needed without losing data. Many users may encounter situations where closing an app manually is necessary. In Surface Pro 3, like in other touch-enabled devices, users can easily close apps by dragging apps from the very top to the bottom of the screen.
If you want to terminate the app and not letting it running in the background, drag the app down to the bottom of the screen, but not all the way, without releasing, keep holding the apps until you see a flip animation and then release.
Restarting apps quickly
If you need to quickly restart an app, you can easily drag an app to the bottom of the screen, but don’t release, keeping holding for a few seconds until you see the flip animation. Then drag up and release to see your app restarting.
Train Windows 8 to understand your handwriting
Go to Control Panel, tap on Languages, choose Language Options, and select Personalize handwriting recognition. Also make sure that under Advanced settings, “Personalization data” is set to Use automatic learning (recommended).
Add a secondary language
If you need to write in more than one language, Microsoft has it cover. Go to Control Panel, tap on Languages, then tap Add a language, find and select the new language, and tap Add. Make sure to move up in the list the language you like as default.
Disable screen rotation
In the case you want to stop the screen from rotating, you can disable rotation by swiping from the right to open Charms, tap Settings and Screen. Above the brightness setting, you’ll notice an icon indicating screen rotation, tap it and a lock on rotation will be put in place. Remember that the setting will lock the current orientation.
Switch to functions keys
Type Cover for Surface Pro 3 functions keys by default work as hot keys. If you like your functions keys to do what they suppose to, press Fn + Caps. You won’t get any feedback of the switch, but it works.
Show running app listing instead of switching
Swiping from the left will switch between apps, if you push back a bit, it will reveal the listing of recently launched apps. If you want have this listing instead of switching between apps, swipe from the right, tap Change PC settings, go to PC and devices, Corners and edges, and toggle Off — “When I swipe in from the left edge, switch between my recent apps instead of show a list of them”.
Show more tiles in the Start screen
In Surface Pro 3, as well as on any Windows 8.x PC, you can cram more Live Tiles to the Start screen. While in Start (important) swipe from the right, tap Settings, then Tiles, and make sure to toggle Yes — “Show more tiles on the Start screen”.
From the same Tiles settings, you can also “Show more apps in Apps view”, “Show administrative tools”, and “Clear personal info from my tiles”.
Connect Surface Pro 3 to the big screen
Surface Pro 3 has a powerful GPU, which allows you drive high-definition screens up to 4K. So you can easily connect the tablet via the mini HDMI port to your TV to play games, show a slideshow, or to use it as a white board using OneNote.
Cast content to Xbox
Your Surface is capable of many amazing things, another one is to cast videos to your Xbox. Play a video, swipe from the right, tap Devices, Play, and choose Xbox. After a few seconds, you should be able to watch the video in the big screen wirelessly.
Wireless project to a second screen with Miracast
Another great feature is Miracast that comes baked in Windows 8.x. This is a wireless technology to project your Windows 8.x PC screen to a second screen, such as TV, Projectors, and other devices that support Miracast — pretty similar to Apple’s AirPlay.
To project to a secondary screen, swipe from the right, tap on Devices, Project, and then tap Add wireless display. Windows will search for compatible devices, choose the one you want and follow the on-screen instructions to pair the devices — instructions you only have to follow once.
The Surface Pen
The Surface Pen is your normal stylus, it’s actually a pen, it’s built from high-quality aluminum and it connect via Bluetooth to the tablet and beyond drawing and writing the pen has other powerful features:
With OneNote deeply integrated on Surface Pro 3, you can do several nifty things. For example, while the tablet is on standby, you can click (once) the pen’s purple button to pen wake the tablet and start writing on a new OneNote page (even if the device is locked). Clicking the button twice will sync the note to OneDrive automatically. That’s of course, if the device has been on standby for a short period of time, if not you’ll need to unlock the tablet with your password to sync content.
Want to create a new page? Simply click the pen again.
At any point and place, such as in Internet Explorer or Start screen, you can double-click the pen to take a snapshot of what you’re currently seeing on the screen, you can crop, and then the image will open on a new OneNote page. There you can further edit, add notes, and draw on top of the image. And all syncs automatically to the cloud, meaning that you can access all to the image and notes from any supported device.
If you don’t like the modern version of OneNote, you can also get the desktop version for free at OneNote.com. Furthermore, you can even set this application as the default, by launching the Desktop version of OneNote, going to FILE, Options, Advanced, and under Default OneNote Application, check “Make OneNote 2013 (desktop) the default OneNote application for OneNote links, notes, and clips”.
These are my favorite tips and tricks for Surface Pro 3, do you have a favorite one that isn’t listed? Please share with us in the comments below. Also remember that a lot of these tips also works not only in Surface Pro 3, but on previous versions too including in the original Surface RT and in Windows 8.1 PCs.