Set Up Your New Surface: Tiles – Quick Tip #3

This is the 3rd tip in our “back to the basics” series for new Surface owners (in anticipation of people getting Surface tablets for the Holidays) to help them get up and running with their tablets as soon as possible.

In this post, I’ll cover the basics of customizing your Start Screen tiles in Windows 8.1.

Knowing how to do so will let you better customize your Surface to fit your personal preferences, which will make it easier for you to use.

Set Up Your New Surface: Tile Options

I’ll start with tile options because these options let you adjust the size and shape of the tiles. The options also let you pin and unpin them from the start screen and even let you to allow or disallow live tile updates.

To get to the tile options all you have to do is tap and hold on the tile you want to customize for a few seconds ( the screen will “grey out” slightly and a colored bar will appear across the bottom with a “Customize” icon on the right.

When you let go of the tile, menu options will appear in the colored bar as in the example below.

See a closeup of the selections:

Here’s a description of each item:

  • Unpin from Start: This option will let you remove the tile from the Start screen. It won’t uninstall the application and you will still be able to access the application under the “All apps” menu (by sliding the Start Screen up).
  • Pin to Taskbar: This option will pin the icon to the taskbar in Desktop mode. In the screenshot below, you can see the Weather app pinned to the desktop taskbar as an example.

  • Uninstall: This will not only remove the tile from the Start Screen, it will uninstall application from your Surface. Once you do this, you’re not going to be able to use the application unless you re-install it.
  • Resize: This option lets you resize the tile to be one of several sizes. You can choose one of 4 different size/shape combinations fr most tiles (Large, wide, medium, small) though some will only let you pick from a subset of those shapes. You can see examples of the different tile shape/sizes below:

  • Turn live tile on/off: Some tiles can display “live” information (such as the Mail tile which shows the latest mail message and a count of unread messages). This option lets you turn that on and off for the selected tile.

Working with multiple tiles at once

If customizing one tile at a time is too slow for you, you can select multiple tiles by simply tapping on additional tiles after you’ve already brought up the customization option.

The available options are the same when you’re working with multiple tiles but there’s an additional icon called Clear selection.

Basically, Clear selection just un-selects the tiles you’ve chosen but doesn’t take you out of the tile customization mode.

That’s it. Now you know how to choose and customize your Start Screen tiles like a pro. Up next in our series is how to work with Tile Groups, so you can better organize your tiles on the Start Screen.


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