Microsoft Surface Tip: May 21

Tip of the Week: Get a Start Button for your Surface Pro


Do you spend a lot of time in Desktop mode on your Surface Pro? Do you miss the Start button from Windows 7? If you have a Surface Pro you’re in luck… (sorry, there doesn’t seem to be an option for the RT, yet.)

There are several Start Button replacements out there but, the one I recommend is Start8 by Stardock. It’s only $4.99 and it offers a lot of customization options.

You can download it for a 30 day free trial run so go ahead. What do you have to lose?

Microsoft Surface Tip: May 14

Tip of the Week: Get better battery life for your Surface


You’ve probably heard or discovered that the Surface battery life is a little short. While this isn’t true for the RT (which is an “all day” device) it is true for the Surface Pro. Out of the box, you can expect only about 3 to 4 hours or so from a full charge.

However, there are a few things you can do to improve the battery life on your Surface Pro.

Both of these tips can be easily implemented from the power setting menu.

  1. Shutdown instead of sleep your Surface: The start-up cycle for the Surface is only about 10 seconds. In sleep mode, your Surface is too easy to accidentally wake up when you don’t mean to which costs battery life.
  2. Shorten the time to turn off the screen and shutdown the machine during inactivity: Personally, I set the screen to turn off after 1 minute of inactivity when on battery. I also set the machine to shutdown after 3 minutes of inactivity.

Microsoft Surface Tip: May 7

Tip of the Week: Know your Microsoft Surface Network Information


In this week’s tip, I want to call your attention to a little piece of software in the Windows Store called “What’s IP“. It displays your network addresses conveniently on a live tile where they’re easy to find.

There are several reasons why you may need to know your network address on your Microsoft Surface. If you click on the tile, the app also will give you information about your network usage over the past couple of days.

There is also a Pro version of the application available from the store for less than $3 USD. That version is a little more “geek-centric” and has additional network tools including a subnet calculator and port scanner.

Microsoft Surface Security

So, you have a Surface and now you’re wondering what you should do about security. Well, I’m happy to report that the Surface comes with good security right out of the box. These Surface security features include a built-in firewall, automatic updates and an anti-malware solution.

However, there are a few things you can do to make the security even better. The most important thing is to not use your administrator account day-to-day. If you do get hacked, someone can do a lot more damage if you are using an account with administrator rights. Continue reading Microsoft Surface Security

Microsoft Surface Tip: Don’t Lose Your Stylus


Tip of the Week: How Not to Lose Your Stylus


This Microsoft Surface tip of the week is for the Surface Pro. Specifically on how to better keep from losing your stylus. It also has the advantage of giving you a place to put the stylus when charging.

Get a Self Adhesive Pen Pencil Loop Holder Journal Book like the one to the right and attach it to your keyboard. It will securely hold your stylus and doesn’t block the charging port or MiniDisplayPort.

Sometimes, it’s the low tech solution that’s the best.

Surface On-Screen Keyboard

Surface on-screen keyboard tips & tricks

As a tablet device, the Surface needs to be able to let you input text without an external keyboard attached at all times. It does this by providing an on-screen keyboard that you use by touching the screen.

I’m happy to tell you that the default on-screen keyboard is quite responsive and works well. I like that the keys are large and that the touchscreen is very reactive. I also like that the default key layout is intuitive and easy to navigate.
Continue reading Surface On-Screen Keyboard

Screen Keyboard Problem – Surface RT

Problem: I have found that occasionally the on-screen keyboard on my Surface RT does not appear/show or otherwise exist. This usually happens when I fold the touch (external) keyboard back. Sometimes it also happens when I detach the external keyboard.  And sometimes it’s totally random.

Continue reading Screen Keyboard Problem – Surface RT

How To: Work with Metro Tiles in Windows 8/RT

You’ve gotten your Microsoft Surface and you’ve installed your favorite applications. Now you want to group Metro tiles so that you can organize your desktop and find things quickly and easily. This how-to article will have you working with Metro tiles in Windows 8/RT like a pro in no time.

For the purposes of this how-to, I’m going to assume that you are using a touch screen but, it works pretty much the same way with a mouse if that’s what you have.

Select a Metro tile

Before you can do anything with a tile, you’ll need to select it. Selecting a tile is pretty easy. Just touch it and pull it down slightly like you’re flipping a light switch. You’ll know it’s been selected when you see a check mark appear in the upper right corner of the tile.

Continue reading How To: Work with Metro Tiles in Windows 8/RT

How To: Easily access SkyDrive in Desktop mode.

Although SkyDrive won’t let you see your data when you’re not connected to the internet from a Surface RT device (see my post on that here) it is still a valuable tool when you have an internet connection.

While Windows RT has a SkyDrive Metro application installed by default, it doesn’t allow you access content from the Windows RT desktop. You can, however, setup a mapped drive that will allow you to do so while you’re in desktop mode.

Continue reading How To: Easily access SkyDrive in Desktop mode.

Getting started with Surface

Getting Started with Surface: So you’ve gotten your Surface and the first thing that’s going through your head is, “OK, now what?”

Well, getting started is pretty simple and we’re going to cover the things you should do right away to make sure you have the best experience getting started with your new Surface tablet.

 These 8 steps should get you up and running on either The Surface RT (running Windows RT) or Surface Pro (running Windows 8) so, I’ll sometimes refer to Windows as “Windows 8/RT” just to signify that it is the same thing for the purposes of this getting started guide.

OK, ready? Let’s go….

Continue reading Getting started with Surface