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Customize Surface Apps to Meet Your Needs

Microsoft’s built-in apps come preset to cater to the widest audience. But once they’re living on your Surface, take some time to make them cater to your own needs instead. Tell the Weather app to display your own city, for example; add your favorite newspapers to the News app and add your favorite sports teams to the Sports app.

The customization tricks described here apply to most apps, whether they came bundled with your Surface or you downloaded them from the Windows Store app.

To customize any open app, follow these steps:

  1. Fetch the App menu, called the App bar, by sliding your finger up slightly from the screen’s bottom, or down slightly from the screen’s top.

    Different apps treat their App bar differently. Some place their menu along the bottom, others drop them down from the top, and some do both.

  2. When the App bar appears, tap its buttons to customize the app to your needs.

    Fetch the App bar in the News app, for example, and the top App bar offers three options:

    • Bing News: The equivalent of a browser’s Home button, a tap of this button returns you to the News app’s front page. (It’s called Bing News because Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, constantly stocks the News app with the latest news.)

    • Topics: Tap here to personalize your news with topics of interest to you. To start, tap the plus sign within the Add a Topic box; when the Add a Topic screen appears, type a favorite topic. Tap the Add button, and the Bing News section collects stories on that topic. Revisit Topics to see the latest news about that specific subject.

      Place quotes around your search term to find results that contain that exact phrase. For example, type “brussels sprouts” to see news only about today’s trendy vegetable. Type brussels sprouts, by contrast, and the app fetches news about Belgium and salad toppings.

    • Sources: Want to read information from one favorite source? Tap the Sources option to read news from a particular news outlet, including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and many of your favorite websites.

    • Video: Many news outlets include videos with their stories, and this button takes you directly to the hour’s most popular news videos. (If a video doesn’t hold your interest, tap the screen; then tap the Back arrow that appears in the upper-left corner.)

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After customizing the News app to meet your own interests, try these other tips to personalize your Surface’s other apps:

  • Traveling to a new city? Prepare yourself by opening the Bing Travel app, typing your destination into the Search Destinations box, and tapping the Magnifying Glass icon. When the travel guide shows your destination, swipe up from the screen’s bottom edge and tap Pin to Start; that places a travel guide to that city on your Start screen.

  • Add your stock portfolio to the Finance app by fetching its App bar, tapping the Watchlist button, and tapping the plus sign to add stocks symbols. After you’ve added your portfolio, tap any of the stock’s symbols to see detailed information about the stock’s historical value.

  • If you click the Allow button when the Weather app first asks your location, the app automatically updates its Start screen tile with your city’s weather forecast. To add other cities, fetch the App bar, tap Places, tap the Favorites button, type another location, and tap the Add button.

  • Several other apps ask permission to use your location to tailor their information. To see the list of apps you’ve approved — and revoke their access — fetch the Charms bar, tap Settings, and choose Change PC Settings from the Settings pane. When the PC Settings screen appears, tap Privacy and then choose Location from the Privacy screen. There, you find toggle switches for every app that requests location information.

  • If you don’t see any way to customize an app on its App bar, fetch the Charms bar and tap the Settings icon. When the Settings pane appears, check the list near the top edge. Some options let you change or personalize your app’s behavior.

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