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How to Open Apps in Microsoft Surface

The Start screen of your Microsoft Surface heralds a new way of working with Windows and its ecosystem of small, inexpensive apps rather than large, expensive desktop programs.

To help you figure out this new world, this section covers app basics: How to open and close them, switch between them, and find their menus when they need a few tweaks.

When first installed, Windows 8 doesn’t bother to organize your Start screen. Your apps appear in a haphazard mess that sprawls out of view beyond the screen’s right edge. As you slide your finger along the Start screen from right to left, the tiles move, bringing more into view.


If you spot the app you’d like to open, tap it with a finger: The app fills the screen, ready for action.

However, the bigger task may be simply finding the app you want to open. The sprawling Start screen doesn’t alphabetize your apps or organize them into manageable groups. That leaves way too many hiding places.

When your sought-after app is lost in a sea of tiles, bring the app to the surface by following these steps:

  1. Swipe up from the screen’s top or bottom. When the Start screen’s menu appears along the bottom edge, tap the All Apps icon.


    The Start screen lists an alphabetical list of all your apps, followed by a list of your desktop programs, organized alphabetically by category. Still don’t spot the app you’re after? Move to step 2.

  2. Pinch the All Apps screen between two fingers.

    The app icons disappear, and Windows lists the alphabet, from A to Z. Tap the first letter of your lost app—J, perhaps—and Windows redisplays all the apps. This time, though, apps beginning with J are placed directly beneath your finger, making them easier to find.


    This trick works best for Start screens with a huge variety of apps. If you still can’t find your wayward app, move to step 3.

  3. Search for the app.

    Swipe your finger in from the right edge to fetch the Charms bar. When the Charms bar appears, tap the Search icon. A box appears for you to type in the missing app’s name. As you type, Windows lists matching apps, narrowing the list with each letter you type.

    Spot your app? Tap its icon to launch it.

If you’ve added a keyboard to your Surface, just begin typing the app’s name directly onto the Start screen. The Start screen quickly transforms into a list of every app matching what you’ve typed so far. After you spot your app’s name on the list, tap it, and it leaps onto the screen.

  • The Start screen never shows all of your installed apps. Unless you personally reorganize it, the Start screen shows only the apps Microsoft chose to be listed.

  • Want an unlisted app to appear on the Start screen? Put it there yourself: When looking at the app’s tile from the All Apps layout, select the app by sliding its icon up or down a bit. (A checkmark appears to let you know it’s selected, and the bottom menu appears.) Then, tap the Pin to Start icon from the bottom menu.

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