When the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book was released, the included Surface app proved pretty much useless. It only offered two main functions:
- You could change the sensitivity of the Surface Pen (slightly).
- You could send feedback to Microsoft.
This was pretty irritating since Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 users could (and still can on Windows 8.1 or Windows 10) use the app to remap the Surface Pen Button on the end to select which version of OneNote was launched. Not so with Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, where pressing this button—now called the magic button, though I use the term eraser button—simply launched OneNote Mobile, and offered no way to configure it otherwise.
If you wanted to remap the Surface Pen button to do a custom action or run a different program, it involved using a scripting language called AutoHotKey and the creation of custom scripts.
However, it just got a whole lot easier Microsoft has updated the Surface app (a free download from the Windows Store). The app’s latest version (10.0.342.0) includes options for setting what the Surface Pen Button does via a simple pulldown.
Remap The Surface Pen Button: Updated Surface App
While the new version of the app keeps the original two functions on the SP4 and Surface Book, it also adds the ability to remap what the eraser button does when you click, double-click, or press and hold it. Each of those actions can cause a different reaction.
By default, a single click of the button will start the Modern/Metro version of OneNote but, by using the simple pulldown, you can set it to run any desktop or store app. In addition, you can disable the button and easily set it back to the default.
Remap The Surface Pen Button: Desktop OneNote
One of the more common requests we receive regarding the Surface Pen is how to set the top button to run the desktop version of OneNote, as opposed to the mobile version. With the updated Surface app, it’s easy, just follow these steps:
- Launch the Surface App.
- Select the Pen section (looks like a little pen along the left of the screen/window).
- Scroll down to the Button Customization section and select the pulldown for Single-click.
- Select Launch a Desktop App. When you do, an option for Select a Program will appear. Select the plus sign (+).
- A standard open window will launch. Browse to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16 (assuming you have Ofice 2016 installed) and select OneNote.exe.
- Tap or click the Select Program button. The Select a Program option will change to Microsoft OneNote.
That’s it. Now when you single-click on the Surface Pen button, it will launch the desktop version of OneNote instead of the Mobile version.
If you want it to run a different program instead, just follow the same steps but browse to the program you want.
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.