If you’re the proud owner of a Microsoft Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2, you may be interested to know that Wacom (the OEM for the Surface pen) recently released a Surface pen driver update.
OK, the update wasn’t just for the Surface, it was for all of the Wacom enabled tablets.
However, it adds some nice features to the Surface Pro pen that were lacking from the built-in Microsoft Windows pen options (under Pen and Touch in Control Panel). The update adds the Wacom Pen application which allows you to access the following features:
Here is a tip on how to NOT loose your Stylus: Self Adhesive Loop
- Pressure Sensitivity Adjustments: This allows you to set how sensitive the screen is to pressure for both the tip and the eraser.
- Button Option: This lets you pick what the Surface pen button will do when pressed. Of particular note is the radial menu option.
- Click Sound: When enabled, this option makes a click sound when the pen touches the screen.
- Hard press to Double-Click: Does exactly what you think it would.
- Hover Click: It does a double-click when you hold down the button and hold the tip close to the screen (but not touching). Please note that this doesn’t work if you’ve set your button to bring up the Radial Menu.
- Ripple Effect: This is on by default and adds a simple graphic ripple on the screen when the pen tip comes in contact with it.
- Access the Calibrate Screen: OK, not a new feature but it’s a little easier to get to from the Wacom Pen app.
I’m not going to go into how to use these settings as they’re pretty much all self-explanatory, once you get into the Wacom Pen app.
The one thing I will get into (in the last section of this post) is the radial menu option since I think it’s the most interesting feature the new update offers.
Now that you know what the new Wacom Pen driver can do for you, let’s cover how to get it installed.
Surface Pen Driver Update: Installation
Before you start, there are two thinks you need to know:
- If you have installed a earlier version of the Wacom drivers (perhaps because you were having issues with the default Surface pen driver), you should uninstall the old driver before installing this one.
- You MUST NOT have the Surface in a docking station or attached to an external monitor during the install. I did the first time and it kept having problems with the driver losing it’s settings after a reboot. When I did the install with the my Surface un-docked, it worked just fine.
Once you’ve got those two things covered, here’s how you install the new driver:
- Make sure you’re logged in with admin rights.
- From a web browser, go to us.wacom.com/en/feeldriver and tap the download driver link.
- Once the driver updates, run the executable.
- You’ll need to accept the license agreement.
- And you’ll need to restart your machine once the installation is complete.
Once it’s installed, you should find a Wacom Pen icon in your Apps menu. If you don’t just use the search charm to find it.
Surface Pen Driver Update: Radial Menu
In my opinion, the most interesting new feature is the radial menu. This makes a circular menu appear when you push the Surface pen button.
Once configured, the radial menu (example to the left) will appear in both desktop and Modern/Metro UI modes and can be customized to do multiple functions such as opening an installed application or turning up the system volume.
I found it to be pretty handy and convenient when I was using my pen on my Surface Pro 2.
Also, since one of the rumors about the Surface Mini indicates, it’s being designed as a note-taking device with a Surface Pro style pen, I can see this being really useful if you get a Surface Mini (and the rumors are true, of course).
By default, the radial menu is set up with options to do the following:
- Play/pause music/video playback
- Previous/next track or chapter
- Turn up/down or mute the system volume
- Start a browser
- Start your e-mail client
Sounds cool, right? You want it, right?
Here’s how to turn it on:
- Open the Wacom Pen application we just installed on your Surface
- Right under the picture of the pen there is a pull-down menu. Select Radial Menu from the available options
- Tap Apply
- Next, tap on the Radial Menu tab at the top of the window
From there you can select the label and function for each of the eight radial buttons. Be sure to hit Apply when you’re done customizing it because you don’t want to lose your changes.
Also, if you decide you don’t like your changes, you can always hit the Default button to restore the default settings.
So, if you have a Surface Pro/2 getting the Surface pen driver update from Wacom should be at the top of your to do list.
Once you get it installed and configured, feel free to come back and share how you set up your radial menu. We’d love to hear your great ideas.
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.