You might be thinking to yourself, touch seems to do what I want, when would a stylus be better? That’s a good question, Here’s a list of situations where a stylus would probably work better than touch:
- Writing Notes by Hand.
- Marking up Documents.
- Taking Signatures (like digital ink).
- Writing Math Formulas.
- Working with Multiple Files in Desktop mode with Windows Explorer.
In addition, there are a few stylus-related features that you’re going to really start to like once you start using it.
- Palm Blocking: The Surface Pro/Pro 2 is smart enough to know when you’re holding the stylus and it will ignore your palm resting on the screen when the stylus is near. This means that you can write/draw on the screen of the surface like you would on a tablet of paper!
- Pressure Sensitivity: Your Surface can tell how hard you’re pushing on the stylus and differing degrees of pressure may have different results (depending on the application you’re using). For example, Fresh Paint is a really cool drawing application that takes full advantage of the stylus. Unfortunately, not every application supports pressure sensitivity but the ones that do are much better for it.
Using the Surface Pro 2 Stylus: The Basics
Next, let’s get into the basics of using your Surface Pro 2 Stylus. The stylus on your Surface Pro/Pro 2 comes with a Pen Tip, a Pen Button and, a Pen Top (or Eraser Tip). You can see those parts listed in the picture below.
There are many applications that may let you use the stylus in different ways (like Fresh Paint, mentioned above) but in general, the Surface Pro 2 stylus simply acts like a mouse in desktop mode…
- Left Click: Tap a shortcut with the “Pen tip”
- Right Click: Tap and Hold OR Press the Button then Tap.
- Mouse Over: Hover the tip of the stylus about 1/4″ (or about 6mm) above the screen.
Or as a finger in Metro…
- Tap: Tap on a tile with the Pen Tip OR Eraser Tip.
- Tap and Hold: You can tap and hold using the Pen Tip/Eraser Tip OR you can hold the Pen Button down as you Tap with the Pen Tip.
Using the Surface Pro 2 Stylus: Troubleshooting Issues
If you’re having problems with your Surface Pro 2 Stylus there are a couple of things you can do. You should probably start by visiting Microsoft’s Troubleshooting page for the Surface Pen and trying out the steps there. Unfortunately, Microsoft‘s list isn’t quite complete. If their troubleshooting steps don’t help, here are a few more things to try:
- Calibrate your Screen: If you’re stylus is not marking where it should (of you’re finding yourself having problems tapping on the screen in the right place) it could just be that your screen needs to be calibrated. Follow the steps here to calibrate your screen and it should help. If this isn’t your problem then go to the next step.
- Check Your Power Settings: If you’re having problems getting the stylus to work after letting your Surface go to sleep, it could be a power setting causing your problem. There’s a good write-up on fixing this issue over at SurfaceTabletHelp.com you should check out.
- Restart your Surface: Like all of the previous versions of Windows, sometimes all your machine needs is a restart. To restart it go to the Settings Menu in the Charms bar and tell it to restart from the Power menu. Alternatively, just hold the Volume Up and Power Button down for 10 seconds. This force-powers down the machine.
- Delete and Re-install your Wacom Drivers: This is a bit drastic but has been known to fix Surface Pro 2 stylus problems when all else fails. You can find the drivers here. If you don’t feel you could do this without instructions, don’t try it on your own. Find someone who can help you through it.
While we’re talking about Surface Pro 2 Stylus issues, it is always a good idea to have a spare around because they are easy to misplace or lose. You can order one from Microsoft for about $30 USD (about as cheap as you’ll find one).
Finally, since the magnetic holder is not as secure as I would like, you can use this tip to help keep track of your stylus because at $30 USD a shot, you don’t want to lose many.
Hopefully you’ve found this post helpful. Just drop me a note if you have questions.
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.