Identify the Buttons on Your Windows 8 Tablet

By Andy Rathbone

Different tablets from different manufacturers include a variety of buttons and switches. But every Windows 8 tablet includes these four mainstays: power button, Windows Key button, Rotation Lock button, and volume switch.

The power button on your Windows 8 tablet

The power button, a push-button switch, usually lives on the tablet’s right edge, where it’s easy to reach unless you’re left-handed. Press the button (try using a fingernail on really thin buttons), and your tablet either comes to life or turns itself off.


Technically, it’s not an on/off switch. Instead, it puts your tablet to sleep — a lower power state that saves your work, but allows for quick start-up times.

Windows Key button on your Windows 8 tablet

All Windows 8 tablets include a dedicated Windows Key button on their front panel, centered below the Start screen. (The button wears Microsoft’s new Windows logo.) Pressing or touching that button does one of two things:

  • It returns you to the Start screen, Windows’s center of operations.

  • If you’re already on the Start screen, it returns you to your last-used application.

So, don’t consider the Start button as simply another way to summon the Start screen. It’s also a handy way to return to your work.

When your tablet’s turned off or sleeping, touching the Windows key does nothing. That’s exactly what you want from a tablet stuffed into a bag, where the Windows key can be inadvertently touched.

Your Windows 8 tablet’s Screen Rotation Lock button

Tablets automatically rotate their screen to match how you’re holding the tablet. That ensures you’re always viewing them “right-side up.” But sometimes you don’t want the screen to rotate. When you unconsciously tilt the tablet while reading a digital book, for example, it’s annoying when the pages rotate.


To prevent the screen from rotating automatically, press the Screen Rotation Lock button. (Found on the tablet’s side, the button usually bears a padlock icon with two arrows.) When locked, the Screen icon on the Charm bar’s Settings pane wears a lock. Press the Screen Rotation Lock button again to unlock it, returning screen rotation to normal.

You can also toggle the rotation lock directly from the Charms bar’s Settings pane by following these steps:

  1. Slide your finger inward from the screen’s right edge to summon the Charms bar.


  2. Tap the Settings icon, and then tap the Screen icon.

    The Brightness sliding control appears.


  3. Tap the monitor icon at the top of the sliding brightness control.

Oddly enough, that toggles the Rotation Lock; the top of the brightness control sports a padlock when the Rotation Lock is on.

Note: Tablets always turn off screen rotation when you plug in a second monitor.

Your Windows 8 tablet’s volume switch

Most tablets include a toggle switch on their side for volume. Press the switch’s top end to increase the volume; press the bottom end to cool down the party.

You can also change the volume from the Charms bar’s Settings pane by following these steps:

  1. Slide your finger inward from the screen’s right edge to summon the Charms bar.


  2. Tap the Settings icon, and then tap the Volume icon.

    The Volume sliding control appears.

  3. Slide the control up or down to raise or lower the volume.


    Tapping the Speaker icon atop the sliding control works as a toggle to mute the speakers.