Microsoft Surface: PCs and Devices Screen

By Andy Rathbone

By far the most crowded entry in the Surface’s PC Settings, the PCs and Devices category deals mostly with physical items: your Surface, its display, and connected gadgets like mice or keyboards.

Here’s the rundown on the PCs and Devices screen:

  • Lock screen: Visit here to choose your favorite photo to display on your Surface’s Lock screen. This area also lets you choose which apps can display information on the Lock screen: your number of waiting e-mails, for example, or your next appointment.

  • Display: This lets you adjust your screen’s resolution — a nerdy term describing the number of pixels on your screen. Rarely needed on the Start screen, this setting is better adjusted through the Desktop app to make it more finger-friendly.

  • Bluetooth: Visit here as well to add Bluetooth accessories, such as mice, keyboards, microphones, and similar cable-less gadgets. This area also lets you remove gadgets you no longer use. If you’re running low on batteries, head here to turn off Bluetooth until your next recharge.

  • Devices: The catch-all for non-Bluetooth gadgets, this area lists nearly every gadget attached to your Surface. In a bit of a letdown, though, it doesn’t let you adjust the gadget’s settings. You can remove an unused gadget only by tapping its name and then tapping on the subsequent Remove Device button.

  • Mouse and Touchpad: Left-handed Surface owners should visit here to swap the left and right buttons on their mouse and touchpad. The Touchpad area, viewable when you attach a Touch or Type Cover keyboard, lets you adjust the touchpad’s sensitivity, which is handy when a shirt sleeve sends your mouse cursor flying.

  • Typing: Drop by here to tweak the onscreen keyboard’s sometimes overzealous AutoCorrect behavior. Be sure to add the last option, Add the Standard Keyboard Layout as a Touch Keyboard Option, which adds the full-sized keyboard layout to your Surface’s selection of onscreen keyboard. The standard keyboard includes keys missing from the normal keyboard.

  • Corners and Edges: Cherished mostly by mouse-wielding desktop fans, this lets you change what happens when you point in the screen’s upper corners. (Most desktop users visit here to prevent the Charms bar and Recent Apps bar from appearing when their mouse touches the screen’s top corners.) You can also toggle whether the desktop’s taskbar should list Start screen apps.

  • Power and Sleep: When your Surface goes to sleep much too quickly, visit here to increase the two-minute delay to something more convenient. (You can also tell the screen to stay on longer when plugged in than when running on batteries.) Bonus: Visit here to disable the screen brightness control, which annoyingly changes the screen’s brightness according to changes in your room’s lighting.

  • AutoPlay: This area lets you choose how your Surface behaves when you plug in a particular gadget. For example, you can tell it to show you the contents of a newly inserted flash drive automatically, without having to ask.

    When in doubt about a gadget’s AutoPlay settings, choose the Ask Me Every Time setting. You can always change the setting to something more specific when you’re sure how you want the gadget to behave.

  • Disk Space: Helpful when trying to free up disk space, this lists your apps, main folders, and the amount of space they each consume.

  • PC Info: A gem when you’re online with tech support, this area lists all your Surface’s details. It also lists Microsoft’s tech support phone line for your country, as well as a link to online tech support. (Drop by here to change your Surface’s name, as well, if you have trouble recognizing it on networks.)

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