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Tips for Closing and Switching between Apps in Microsoft Surface

Windows 8 on your Surface tablet does not expect you to close your apps or programs. Older versions of Windows always wanted you to close unneeded programs: You’d click on the little X in the program’s upper-right corner and the program disappeared from the screen.

You won’t find any close buttons on apps, however: Apps aren’t meant to be closed. When they're not being used, apps simply rest in the background, waiting in case you need them again. They consume very few resources, and they don’t eat much, if any, battery power.

When you’re done with an app, just head back to the Start screen by pressing the Windows key on the front of your Surface. (You can also swipe in from the screen’s right edge and touch the Start icon on the Charms bar.) Then load a different app and do something else.

But if you want to close an app, perhaps one that’s making annoying noises in the background, it’s not difficult:

To close the app currently filling your screen, slide your finger down from the screen’s top edge all the way down to its bottom edge. As you slide, the app follows your finger, shrinking, and then disappearing completely when your finger reaches the screen’s bottom edge.

It’s oddly empowering to watch your finger pull that unwanted app off the screen. It’s an easy trick to remember, and you’ll find yourself wanting to do it again and again.

When they're not being used, apps slumber in the background. Your Surface ignores them, devoting its full attention to the app currently filling the screen.

But if you want to awaken a previously used app, you can summon it with this easy trick:

To switch back to the app you’ve just used, swipe your finger inward from the Surface’s left edge.

As your finger moves inward from the screen’s edge, it drags your last-used app along with it. When you can see the app begin to appear onscreen, lift your finger: The app grows to fill the screen.

Keep repeating the same trick, sliding your finger in from the left, and you’ll eventually cycle through all your currently open apps.

Can’t remember whether an app’s already open? To see a list of your last six open apps, follow these steps from any screen on your Surface:

  1. Slowly slide your finger inward from screen’s left edge.

  2. When you see an app begin to slide into view, slide your finger back to the left edge.

    All of your opened apps appear in a column clinging to the screen’s left edge.


After you see the apps’ thumbnails clinging to the screen’s left edge, you can perform a few other circus tricks:

  • Return to an open app: Tap an app’s thumbnail from along the screen’s left edge, and the app fills the screen. Simple.

  • Close an app: With your finger, slide the app slightly to the right and then down and off the screen. This one takes practice, as the app tries to muscle its way onto the screen. (If you’re using a Surface keyboard, right-click the unwanted app’s thumbnail using the trackpad and choose Close from the pop-up menu.)

  • Remove the app column: Because that column of recently used apps consumes some real estate, it closes by itself after you open one of its apps. But if you want to close it manually, just tap the currently open app. That brings Windows attention back to your current app and closes the column of apps.

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