One of the cool features the Surface Pro 3 offers is the pen. It let’s you draw and write and even acts as a mouse. But, what would make it really handy is the ability to remap the Surface Pro 3 pen purple button to do something other than open the Metro version of OneNote and paste a screenshot.
If you’ve wanted to do this but didn’t know how, then this article is for you.
We’ll be using a program called AutoHotKey to remap the Surface Pen’s button. This works because, effectively, the buttons on the Pen work as function keys (the mysterious F1-F12 on top of your keyboard) .
AutoHotKey program let’s us remap those keys (in this case F19 and F20) to do whatever we want after the computer starts. So if you decide that you want to start Notepad with a single click instead of OneNote, you can.
In the example below, I’m going to setup my SP3 to start Notepad on a single-click of the pen and the snipping tool on a double-click.
Let’s get started…
Remap the Surface Pro 3 Purple Button: Download AutoHotKey
First, let’s get the AutoHotKey program installed. Installation is pretty straightforward so you shouldn’t have any issues.
- Make sure you’re logged in with Admin rights
- Attach a mouse or type cover (this is just easier with a mouse as the procedure isn’t really touch friendly)
- Download AutoHotKey from HERE
- Save it to your desktop and run it
- Choose Express Setup
- After it finishes installing, choose Exit
Remap the Surface Pro 3 Purple Button: Create a Script
Now, let’s make the magic happen. We’ll do this by creating a very simple script that remaps what the purple button click and double-click does (F20 and F21 respectively).
- Open File Explorer, go to your documents, Right-click and select “New AutoHotkey Script” and name it whatever you want
- After it’s created, right-click on this file and edit it in Notepad, then add these four lines to the bottom…
#F20:: run, notepad.exe
#F19:: run, SnippingTool.exe
- Save the file, then double-click it to test it.
It should now launch Notepad on a single-click of the purple pen button, and the snipping tool when you double-click the button.
If it’s working how you want, the only thing left is to add it to your startup folder. this will allow these mappings to happen automatically every time you start your Surface.
- Open Windows Explorer and check the Hidden Items box under the View menu
- Browse to c:\Programdata\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\startup and place your script in this location (by the way, if you’ve been wondering where the old all users startup folder went, this is it)
- You will be prompted for administrator rights to move the file. Choose Continue to proceed
That’s it. You’ve successfully remapped the SP3 pen purple button to do something other than take screenshots or open the Metro version of OneNote.
From here on out, the Pen will continue to wake the Surface and start the “note taking” mode of OneNote when it’s sleeping but, if it’s powered up, it will do your custom remapped actions instead.
Remap the Surface Pro 3 Purple Button: Removing or Changing the Remapping
Ok, now that you know how this works, I imagine you would like to set it the way you like it – I don’t suppose everyone wants Notepad and Snipping Tool.
Well, the AutoHotKey program we used to do the remapping is very flexible and can do a lot of things. If you want the buttons to do something else, check out their tutorial page for instructions on how to do just about anything you might want to with it.
So, if you want to change the remapping, just go back into the startup area, make changes to the script you placed there and restart your Surface.
If you decide to get rid of the remapping all-together, just delete the script from startup and restart your Surface.
I hope you find this little procedure helpful for making your Surface Pro 3 even more awesome than it already was.
As usual, if you have questions or comments, please let me know.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.