Tips for Controlling the Touchscreen of Your Surface - dummies

Tips for Controlling the Touchscreen of Your Surface

By Andy Rathbone

Controlling a touchscreen sounds easy enough. You just touch it, right? Complicating matters, though, is that your Surface’s screen lets you touch it in seven different ways. And each type of touch does something very different.

Here are the seven main ways to touch your Surface’s screen, as well as examples of when to use each one.



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, an icon, or some 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.

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

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


To achieve 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, the screen changes slightly: A square appears onscreen, or a check mark appears on your selected item. Lift your finger, and more options appear, 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 such as 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.



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.



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.



A swipe is a short slide. For example, 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 because 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, like you were flipping a magazine’s pages.

Note: You can sometimes swipe to select items. To do that, swipe in the opposite direction the item usually moves. For example, you normally swipe downward on your list of e-mail to scroll through the subjects. So, to select a particular piece of e-mail, swipe it sideways and release. Windows highlights the e-mail and adds an adjacent check mark, meaning you’ve selected it for further action.