Controlling your Windows 8 tablet's touchscreen sounds easy enough. You just touch it. Complicating matters, though, is the fact that you can touch tablets in seven different ways, and each type of touch does something very different.

Following are the seven main ways to touch a tablet, as well as examples of when to use each one.


Tap the screen.

The equivalent of a mouse click, this is a quick tap and release of your finger. You can tap any item on the screen, be it a button, icon, or other bit of computer viscera. When in tight quarters, a fingertip often works better than the pad of your finger.

Example: Tap the Next button to move to the next step; tap the Charms bar’s Start button to return to the Start screen. Tap an app on the Start screen to open it.


Double-tap the screen.

The equivalent of a mouse double-click, the double-tap involves two quick taps of your finger. Double-tap any item on the screen that you’d like to double-click on.

Example: Double-tap a desktop folder to open it. Double-tap a web page to make it larger.

On a tablet, many things can be opened by merely tapping. So, if a tap doesn’t open an item, try the double-tap, instead.


Press and hold.

The equivalent of a mouse right-click, touch the item and hold down your finger. A second or two later, a square will appear onscreen. Lift your finger, and the square becomes a menu, just as though you’d right-clicked the item with your mouse.

Example: Press and hold your finger on a blank portion of the Windows desktop. When the square appears, lift your finger; a menu appears, enabling you to choose between your desktop’s options.


Pinch and/or stretch

As a handy way to zoom in or out of a photo, pinch the screen between two fingertips (usually your thumb and index finger). The photo, text, or window shrinks as your fingers move inward. (Lift your fingers when you’ve found the right size.)

To enlarge something, spread your two fingers across the screen. As your fingers spread, the object beneath them grows along with their movements.

Example: Stretch your fingers across hard-to-read items like web pages, photos, and documents until they reach a suitable size or level of detail. Pinch the items to reduce their size and to fit more of them on the screen.


Slide your finger on the screen.

Press your finger against the screen; then, without lifting your finger, slide your finger across the glass. When you lift your finger, the item stays in its new location.

Example: To reposition a window across the desktop, press your finger on the window’s title bar — that colored strip along the top edge. Slide your finger to the window’s desired position; then lift your finger to set the window in its new place.


Rotate your fingers.

Press and hold the screen with two fingers; then rotate your fingers. The item turns as though it were paper on a table.

Example: When viewing maps or photos, rotating your two fingers repositions the items along with your fingers’ movements.


Swipe your finger in one direction.

Slide your finger in a certain direction, usually inward from one of the screen’s edges. Throughout Windows 8, you’ll constantly find yourself swiping inward from your tablet’s edges because doing so summons hidden menus.

Example: Swiping almost always seems natural. You swipe across a digital book to turn its pages, for example. You swipe across a web browser’s screen to scroll up or down a web page. You swipe across the Start menu to see tiles hidden along the left or right edges.

Note: You can also swipe to select items. To do that, swipe in the opposite direction the item usually moves. For example, the Start screen scrolls to the left or right. So, to select a particular Start screen tile, swipe it downward and release. Windows highlights the tile and places a check mark in its upper-right corner, indicating that you’ve selected it for further action.