How to View Photos on Your Surface - dummies

How to View Photos on Your Surface

By Andy Rathbone

As soon as you add a few photos to your Surface, the Photos app begins displaying them even without being told. That’s because the Photos tile on the Start screen is a live tile: When you open the Start screen, the Photos tile automatically cycles through your photos in a mini-slideshow.

Desktop fans can view their photos by opening the Start screen’s Desktop app, opening File Manager, tapping This PC in File Manager’s left pane, and tapping the Pictures folder.

To view your photos as more than thumbnail-sized previews, open the Photos app with a tap of its Start screen tile, and the results appear.

When first opened, the Photos app displays your Surface’s folders along the left edge, and your photos along the right.


The Photos app shows a tile for each folder, and each folder usually shows a preview of a photo stored inside. Oddly enough, the folder’s name helps explain the photos’ source:

  • Date: Folders named after a particular date usually contain photos imported from a point-and-shoot camera on that particular day.

  • Camera Roll: Photos and videos taken with your Surface’s built-in cameras always end up in the Camera Roll folder. A photo named WIN_2014122_215505 means it was taken in 2014 on January 22 at 9:55 pm and 5 seconds.

  • Screenshots: Look in here to see screenshots, which are images you’ve copied from your Surface’s screen. (To take a screenshot, press the Volume Down toggle switch while pressing the Windows key below your Surface’s screen.)

  • Scans: If you connect a scanner to your Surface, the Scanner app stores your scans in this folder.

Follow these steps to view the photos, scans, or screenshots stored in your Surface’s Pictures folder or OneDrive:

  1. Open the Photos app.

    If the Photos app doesn’t resemble the icon in the margin, then its tile is probably displaying one of your photos. When opened, the Photos app shows folders and photos stored in your Surface’s Pictures folder.

  2. Navigate to the folder you’d like to open.

    Tap a folder, and it opens to display its contents.

    To back out of any folder, tap the backward-pointing arrow in the upper-left corner. Keep tapping the arrow, and you’ll eventually return to the Photos app opening menu.

    To browse photos stored on your OneDrive account, tap the words Pictures Library in the screen’s upper-left corner, and choose OneDrive from the drop-down menu. (To return to the Pictures library, reverse the steps.)

  3. Tap a photo to view it full screen.

    When you tap a photo, it fills the screen. Pinch or stretch the photo between your fingers to zoom in or out. To see its menus, slide your finger up from the screen’s bottom edge.

    To back out of a photo, tap it; then tap the Back arrow icon that appears in its upper-right corner.


The Photos app’s App bar displays different buttons depending on what you’re viewing. For example, the App bar offers these buttons when you’re viewing a single fullscreen photo or movie:

  • Delete: Delete your currently viewed photo or movie and then view the next one.

  • Open With: Tap this, and a pop-up menu lets you choose which program should open the photo for viewing or editing. It’s a handy way to tell a desktop program to open your photo, for example.

  • Set As: Tap this to fetch a pop-up menu; there, you can turn your currently viewed photo into the background for your Surface’s Lock screen or a current background for the Photos app’s tile.

  • Slide Show: A handy way to show off photos, tapping this button launches a slideshow of every photo or movie in the currently viewed folder. To stop the show, tap anywhere on the screen.

  • Rotate: This rotates the picture but only clockwise. So, tap it twice to correct an upside-down photo. Tap it three times to rotate the photo to the left.

  • Crop: Tap this when viewing a photo, and a rectangle overlays itself across your photo. Drag the entire rectangle or just its corners to frame a different portion of the photo. Tap the Apply button to crop, and the app saves your crop as a new picture with a different name, preserving the original photo.

    When you tap the Crop button, an optional Aspect Ratio button appears. Tap it to see a pop-up menu with options for cropping your photo to match common print sizes such as 4×3, 5×7, 8×10, square, and others.

  • Edit: Tap this to enter Editing mode, where you can change the photo’s lighting, color, or add special effects. (For quick results, tap the AutoFix button and then tweak the edits at that point.)

  • Trim: Tap this when viewing a movie, and a circle appears at each end of the video’s timeline, shown along the screen’s bottom. Drag the circles along the timeline to mark the video’s new starting and stopping points. Then tap OK to save your newly trimmed video.

When you first open or return to the Photos app, the App bar changes yet again to offer these helpful buttons:

  • Select All: This selects all of the currently shown folders and photos for later action, including Delete, Share, or Print. (If tapped by mistake, tap the App bar’s Clear Selection button to return the selected items to normal.)

  • New Folder: Tap this to create a new folder, handy for categorizing photos according to subject.

  • Import: Tap the Import button to import photos from an attached camera or your memory card.

The Photos app shows only photos stored on your Surface or OneDrive. It’s not smart enough to show photos stored on network locations. To see those, open the Desktop app and open File Explorer. There, you can navigate to any location available to your Surface. Tap a photo, and the Photos app reappears, ready to show off the photos in that location.