Things to Try If Your Surface Pro 3 Pen Doesn’t Work

surface pro 3 pen issues

What to do if your Surface Pro 3 Pen doesn’t work right

The Surface Pro 3’s pen is one of its best Surface features. It feels just like a regular pen and closely emulates the pen and paper experience on the Surface tablets, see Differences between Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 pen

In addition to writing on the tablet, the pen allows you turn the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 on and off from sleep state, open OneNote, take a screenshot, erase, and even right-click. It’s really pretty cool.

But what do you do if your Surface Pro 3 pen stops working correctly?

The Surface is so dependent on its pen that without it, it really loses some great functionality. So, you obviously want to be able to figure out how to troubleshoot it. Fortunately, it’s actually pretty easy.

#1 thing to try if your Surface Pro 3 pen doesn’t work: Check the batteries

The Surface pen requires a AAAA battery – it came with the pen. So, if your pen is suddenly non-responsive, i.e. it doesn’t write and none of the buttons work, the first thing to try is to replace the battery. You do so by unscrewing the top of the pen from the bottom and removing the old battery.

There are also two size 319 coin cell batteries inside your pen. If your pen doesn’t work AND the light in step #2 below doesn’t flash, then you may also need to replace them. This is a bit more complicated as it requires a jeweler’s Phillips screwdriver. See instructions below from Microsoft (click to enlarge):


#2 thing to try if your Surface Pro 3  pen doesn’t work: Make sure your pen is paired correctly

Your pen is a Bluetooth device. But if you look under the Bluetooth settings on your Surface you will see that it is showing as “Not connected”. According to Microsoft this is normal because the pen only uses Bluetooth when the top purple button is pressed, so when you look at your Bluetooth device list, it always shows as “Not connected” and this is normal.

However, I have had a couple of instances on my Surface Pro 3, when clicking the top button did not open OneNote nor take a screen shot. If this happens to you, you will need to pair the pen.

Here is how to pair it manually:

  • Got to Settings and tap Change PC settings
  • Tap PC and devices and then tap Bluetooth
  • Double-check that Bluetooth is turned on
  • If you see the Surface Pen on the list of the devices, tap it and tell it to Remove device
  • Now that you no long see the Surface Pen under Bluetooth, hold down the top purple button on the pen, until a green light in starts flashing (about 7 seconds) in the middle of your pen. This will force your pen to reconnect.
  • When the pen shows up on the list again, tap it and then tell it to Pair.

#3 thing to try if your Surface Pro 3 pen doesn’t work: Install the latest Surface updates and driver

You should always make sure you keep your Surface updates current. However, what you may not know is that if your pen is not pressure sensitive in certain apps, it likely because you need to install the N-trig Wintab driver. To do this you will need to go to the N-trig Downloads & Drivers website and download the correct driver from the list: Windows 8.1 64 bit, Microsoft, Surface Pro 3. Then simply run it and follow the prompts.

#4 thing to try if your Surface Pro 3 pen doesn’t work: Call Microsoft

If your pen writes but the buttons do not work, you should contact Microsoft. You may have a defective pen and if your device is still under warranty, they will replace it.

You may also like our posts on Optimize Your Surface Pro 3 and How to get support for Microsoft hardware.

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