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Tips for Controlling the Touchscreen of Your Surface

The Microsoft Surface touchscreen technology lets you touch it in seven different ways. Each type of touch does something very different. Although these may sound complicated when reading them, envision your Surface’s display as a piece of paper: Most of a Surface’s finger commands are as intuitive as manipulating a sheet of paper as it lies flat on a table.

  • Tap: 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’s tile on the Start screen to open the app.

  • Double-tap: The equivalent of a mouse’s double-click, this is two quick taps of your finger. Double-tap any item on the screen that you’d double-click on.

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

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

  • Press and hold: The equivalent of a mouse’s right-click on the Windows desktop, tap the item but 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 if 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, letting you choose your desktop’s settings.

  • Pinch and/or stretch: A handy way to zoom in or out of a photo or website, 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 level of size or detail. Pinch them to reduce their size and to fit more of them onto the screen.

  • Rotate: Press and hold the screen with two fingers and then rotate your fingers. The item turns as if it were paper on a table.


    Example: When viewing maps or photos, rotating your two fingers repositions them according to your fingers’ movements.

  • Slide: Press your finger against the screen, and 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 its top edge. Slide your finger to the window’s desired position, and then lift your finger to drop the window in its new place.

  • Swipe: Slide the finger a short distance in a certain direction, usually inward from one of the screen’s edges. You’ll constantly find yourself swiping inward from your Surface’s edges throughout Windows 8, as that summons hidden menus.


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

    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 checkmark in its top-right corner, meaning you’ve selected it for further action.

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