How to: Calibrate the Touchscreen on your Surface

calibrate touchscreenThis may have happened to you:

You click on a button or menu option and “miss”. Maybe you’re using Fresh Paint and notice that your Surface Pro stylus is drawing just “a little to the left”.

The cause? Your touch inputs are out of calibration.

The touchscreen and pen inputs on your Surface are pretty accurate out of the box so, you may not have seen any problems with this. However, that doesn’t mean  it won’t happen  in the future. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix that you can do in less than two minutes. We’ll cover the procedure for a Surface Pro then for a Surface RT.

Calibrate Touchscreen or Pen input on a Surface Pro/Pro 2/Pro 3

  • Bring up the Charm Bar (swipe in from the right of the screen)
  • In the Search Charm, search for “calibrate
  • Tap on “Calibrate the screen for pen or touch input
  • The following screen will appear

calibrate touchscreen

  • Tap on Calibrate. When you do, you’ll get the following window

calibrate touchscreen

  • The procedure for doing the Pen or touch inputs are similar so select which one you want to calibrate. For this example, I’m going to do Touch Input
  • Next you’ll see a screen a lot like the one below (I enlarged the text to make it easier to read)

calibrate touchscreen

  • Start in the upper left corner and touch (or tap with the pen) the cross-hairs as they appear. There will be 16 in all. If you make a mistake, right-click on the screen to back up and try again
  • After you’re done, you’ll get a popup asking if you want to save your configuration. Tap OK
  • Repeat for the touch or pen input as needed

Calibrate Touchscreen on a Surface RT/Surface 2

  • Bring up the Charm Bar (swipe in from the right of the screen)
  • In the Search Charm, search for “calibrate
  • Tap on “Calibrate the screen for pen or touch input
  • The following screen will appear

calibrate touchscreen

  • Tap on Calibrate. When you do, you’ll get the following screen since the RT/Surface 2 only has the touch input option

calibrate touchscreen

  • Start in the upper left corner and touch (or tap with the pen) the cross-hairs as they appear. There will be 16 in all. If you make a mistake, right-click on the screen to back up and try again
  • After you’re done, you’ll get a popup asking if you want to save your configuration. Tap OK

That’s it. Hopefully, you won’t need to do this very often but if you do, now you know what to do.

Let me know if this helps you at some point and don’t be afraid to post a comment if you have any questions.

Tim

23 thoughts on “How to: Calibrate the Touchscreen on your Surface

  1. Hi Tim, I have tried to connect a 60″ Touchscreen to the Surface tablet and unfortunately the calibration is way out. I can get the calibration screen but it won’t allow me to touch the touchscreen. The calibration will only work on the surface tablet itself, even though it does mirror on the large screen.
    Any ideas on what else I can do to calibrate the Touchscreen?
    Regards
    Tanya

    • Tanya,

      It depends a bit on the touchscreen. Some of them come with their own calibration and driver software. Are you running a RT or a Pro? It may be the case you have to install some software to get the touchscreen to work right and that will only work for a Pro.

      Hope this helps,
      Tim

        • Unfortunately, only software in the Windows Store can be added to a Surface RT tablet.

          Have you checked the manufacturer’s website for the external touchscreen you’re trying to use? They may have some information to help you get it working without a driver or, perhaps, they have a list of alternate drivers that might come on the Surface RT.

          Just go to their website and search for Surface RT and the model of the external display. If that doesnt work, try the same thing with “tablet” or even “ipad” in place of Surface Rt in the search string.

          Hope this helps some more,
          Tim

  2. Hey I have tried to calibrate my pen but nothing happens when I try to touch the crosshairs on the screen with my pen. HELP!

      • It shouldn’t be, I literally just took the stylus out of the box. Also I don’t get the option to calibrate my touch or pen input.

        • Hmmm… Don’t be so sure. All manufacturers have a certain percentage of out of the box failures. It’s possible that you simply are the victim of bad luck.

          I assume touch calibration works? If so, I’d contact Microsoft and see if they’ll send a replacement.

          Tim

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  6. I type in calibrate in my surface pro and there is no option to “Calibrate the screen for pen or touch input” i do get one option that brings me to this help page though….

    • Dan,

      Above the search box there’s a little pull-down arrow next to where it says “Everywhere”. Click or tap on it and select “Settings” then search for calibrate.

      You should see it then.

      Hope this helps,
      Tim

  7. Hi, my compliments for the article. I have bought my new Surface PRO 3 3 days ago but i have discovered a strange thing: if I use the default PEN and TOUCH settings, my SP3 work very properly and the accuracy of the input (pen and touch) is very good. But, if I try to do an accurate PEN and TOUCH calibration, they begin to run approximately and, in some points of the screen, they do not allow to work with precision. Can you give me advice on how to solve? I also tried to re-initialize the system but have not solved!

    I can return it and replace it with a new one …. but do you think it’s worth it?

    Many thanks in advance!

    • Nico,

      I haven’t encountered that problem before. Usually, the calibration works well and doesn’t “drift” so long as you’re careful when doing it.

      By chance do you happen to have a screen protector on your SP3? If so, it could be interfering with the calibration.

      Just a guess…

      If that’s not it, you could try installing the Surface Tweak Tool and using it’s calibration function…

      http://www.surfaceforums.net/threads/surface-tweak-tool-for-surface-pro-2-release.8219/

      It offers up to a 300 point calibration which is more accurate than the built-in calibration.

      However, be aware, you’ll want to be as EXACT AS POSSIBLE when doing the calibration.

      Hope this helps,
      Tim

  8. Hello Tim,
    My touchscreen got persnickety about inputs. Had it in an aftermarket cover (opens like a book, made of a leather-like vinyl). I pulled it (8.1 RT) from the case after cleaning the screen failed to resolve the problem and found my housekeeping was not up to par around the edges covered by the case. Lacking a pup, I used the micro cleaning kit that I use on my TV. Still not quite right, so did the system reset. Seemed better but I quickly caught it doing that little ghost finger dance (screen jiggles and shows 3 or 4 ‘water spots’ at various screen locations. A couple of keyboard keys – locations – show a bit of insensitivity, particularly the ‘.>’ key on the full keyboard selection. Living with that for the moment.
    But, tried recalibrate as shown above and when complete the edges will no longer respond, i.e., Charms won’t open to right and won’t let me preview pages to left as before. So far only way around seems to be to delete calibration. Suggestions, answers? I have not put the RT back in the case yet, though I would like to – I find the hard surfaced SURFACE uncomfortable to hold bare
    Thank you for any help!

    John

  9. I am having the above problem but when I get to the calibration screen..the touch part does not respond when I touch calibrate I get a circle where my finger was but it does not respond..

  10. surface rt piece of s…t, touchscreen does NOT work at all, I did a hard reset and started working, did updates and touchscreen stop working again, hard reset it again and no more.. hasn’t work since, try it all .. about to run over it with my truck.

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