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Tips for Closing and Switching between Apps in Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface is all about the apps. You will probably use several during any given session, whether for work or play. It’s a good idea to become familiar with managing these apps.

Closing an app

Older versions of Windows always wanted you to close unneeded programs: You’d click 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.

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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 to move on to another task.

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 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.

If you’ve attached a mouse or trackpad to your Surface, you can also close an app by pointing the mouse arrow at the app’s top edge. When a tiny strip appears along the app’s top edge, click the X in the strip’s right corner, and the app closes.

Switching between apps

When they’re not in use, 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 the app begins 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 is 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 the 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.

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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 because the app tries to muscle its way onto the screen. (If you’re using a keyboard/trackpad or mouse, you can right-click the unwanted app’s thumbnail 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.

Windows considers the desktop to be a single app, no matter how many programs are running in their own windows. Consequently, this app-switching trick won’t let you jump back to a particular program on the desktop; it only returns you to the desktop, where you can see all of the windows you happen to have left open.

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