Transitioning from MacBook Air to Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Many Apple users hesitate for changes. They tend to fall in love with both OS and their hardware, tending to resist any big changes. I have been a Mac user for a long time now and I understand from their perspective.

In this article, I will explain with my first hand experience the transition to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 from the MacBook Air. Hopefully, this article will help making decisions to those Apple users thinking about switching to the devices like the Surface Pro 4. Unfortunately I have only been using the Surface Pro 4 for a short period of time, hence I can not go over all the features of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, just yet. Nevertheless, I will identify some of the pros and cons of switching from the MacBook Air to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

Operating System

Comparing the interface of Windows 10 to Apple’s OS X El Capitan is like comparing two opposite extremities. The Apple OS is super simple and uber user friendly. Consequently, it is less customizable and has a shorter learning curve. I was able to get used to MacBook Air features faster than I could on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. It has already been 3 weeks since my transition from OS X to Windows 10, and I am still discovering new tools and features from the Windows 10 OS. Nevertheless, I found the extra customization capabilities extremely useful. Windows 10 OS system has a wider range of audiences beyond the average user like me, whose primary use is for school and media/entertainment.

Gestures

In my opinion, the navigation of both devices are quite elegant. They both utilize gestures to open different windows and switch between windows/applications. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 uses the side of the screen to navigate while the MacBook Air uses the track pad. Although this might be purely subjective, I think MacBook’s trackpad based navigation is faster/easier to scroll and also to switch between apps. The MacBook also features wider range of gestures despite lacking touch capability. On the other hand, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has the Action Center gesture which gives you a quick access to all your notifications, settings, and toggles. The Action Center acts as a notification bar, similar to the one on your mobile device. The MacBook Air also has better response to sensitivity than the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 overall.  Nevertheless, I found both approach very usable for my needs.

Screen and Keyboard Ergonomics

In terms of screen size, MacBook Air does have a slight edge on paper with a 13-inch screen compared to the 12.3-inch screen of the Surface Pro 4. But in my transition from the MacBook Air to the Surface Pro 4, the difference in screen size was not noticeable with any daily use. Could this be because of the higher resolution?

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4’s type cover felt slightly more compact compared to the MacBook Air but it was easily adaptable. Despite its compact size, the keyboard was surprisingly easy to get used to and type at a near full speed. Furthermore, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has the option to use a third party Bluetooth keyboard such as the Cooper Case for a more comfortable typing experience.

Initially, I completely wrote off the on-screen keyboard on the Surface Pro 4 and was disappointed to find that no 3rd party keyboards were available in the Microsoft App Store. But after some additional trial and error usage, I found that it worked quite well after all. You can’t replace a full size keyboard with an on-screen keyboard of course, but for short quick touch-ups, it worked surprisingly well. Still, I would like to see some of the nicer on-screen keyboards currently available on the smartphones ported to the Windows platform.  I’ve tried some free-to-try 3rd party keyboards but it was pretty clear to me that Microsoft doesn’t want anyone to replace their on-screen keyboard as other keyboards felt they were not well integrated into the OS.

Portability

The portability of both devices are definitely very good. There were no problem with how it fits in hand or in my bag. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is lighter in weight and it is also thinner than the MacBook Air so there is less discomfort carrying it around. Furthermore, Microsoft Surface Pro 4 can be used as a tablet, therefore it can be a more portable media device for movies or videos for traveling. I prefer carrying the Surface Pro 4 more so than the MacBook Air.

In the near future, I will be writing an article that compares different cases for the Surface Pro 4, so stay tuned.

In conclusion

My final thoughts on the transition (so far) from the MacBook Air to Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is impacted more by the operating system than the hardware. Personally, I find the Windows 10 operating system to be more useful than the OS X El Capitan despite my recent years of reliance, and the Window 10 OS integrates the touch capability quite well both as a laptop and as a tablet. I find myself enjoying the tablet mode quite a bit more than I had expected.

Overall, I still have much to learn, but I have to admit the Windows platform has come a long way, both on the hardware and on the software fronts.

Configuring OneDrive On Your Surface

A couple of weeks ago, Tim covered the issue of OneDrive taking up too much bandwidth in his post Throttle OneDrive On Surface. Today, I want to step back and get back to some of the basics of configuring OneDrive in Windows 10.

You may have owned a Surface device for a while now (perhaps even have one of the older versions) and have a good idea of what OneDrive is but since you upgraded to Windows 10, you may be baffled by how to configure it. Or you may have just purchased a new Surface and are confused about OneDrive and why you should even use it. Either way, this post will help you understand how to configure OneDrive on your Surface tablet.

Let’s start with the most basic question..

What is OneDrive?

OneDrive is Microsoft’s free (up to a certain point, see Microsoft OneDrive Plans ) cloud storage that comes included with your Microsoft account. It’s kind of like an additional hard drive that travels with you to any device and allows you to have access to files from anywhere. There are, of course, many other cloud storage options, like Google Drive, Box, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. However, OneDrive is integrated to Windows 10 and therefore also with your Surface tablet.

OneDrive in Windows 10

If you are new to Windows 10, you have probably already noticed that OneDrive is a totally new animal in this version of Windows.

Here is what you can expect in this version:

  • Selective Sync – you can now choose all folders to be synced or only specific folders.
  • OneDrive Online Only – no longer exists. This is a bit of a pain because you can’t tell it to sync everything online (saving local drive space) but there are some work-arounds, see our Access OneDrive Online Only Files post.
  • Cortana and Universal Apps integration – you can search files with Cortana even if they are not synced to your Surface.

Configuring OneDrive on Surface tablets

When you first set up your Surface, OneDrive will prompt you to select folders to sync. If you follow the wizard, it will walk you through it.

However, if you ignored it, closed it, or wanted to do this later (as I usually do), you can reinitiate the wizard by doing the following:

  • Make sure you are logged in with a Microsoft account (locally created accounts do not have OneDrive attached to them).
  • Select File Explorer in the taskbar
  • Click OneDrive from the list of folders on the left side, this will reinitialize the OneDrive wizard
  • Select (check) the folders you want to sync to your Surface

Some OneDrive Tips

Stop OneDrive from starting when your Surface boots

  • Right-click on the OneDrive icon and select Settings
  • Select the Settings tab
  • If you don’t want to Start OneDrive automatically when you sign in to Windows, uncheck the box (it will be checked by default)

Change which folders are synced

  • Right-click on OneDrive icon
  • Select Settings
  • Select Account tab (should be default) 
  • Click Choose Folders button
  • Check or uncheck the folders to sync

Choose how you auto-save your files

  • Right-click on OneDrive icon
  • Select Settings
  • Select Auto save tab from the top 
  • Chose how you auto-save from these options

Other tips

Configuring OneDrive Offline Access

Files you sync to OneDrive are automatically available both online at OneDrive.com and offline on your Surface. That means you can use them even when you’re not connected to the Internet. This is useful because you no longer have to mark files to be available offline. When you reconnect, OneDrive updates the online files with changes you made offline on your Surface and hence that bandwidth issue we wrote about previously.

Overall though, as you can see, OneDrive is pretty versatile. Whether you want to use it as additional storage space or you want to give yourself the ability to access your files from any of your devices (phone, Surface, PC), it is a great tool to help you organize. And don’t forget that you can use OneDrive as a backup option. as well.

The fact that it is built into your Surface is a bonus and saves you from installing the app or lengthy setup. It’s worth a try on your Surface tablet.

Joanna-

Helpful Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts For Surface Tablets

Since, for better or worse,  Windows 10 is now the standard on Surface tablets, we’ve been getting some questions about Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts are handy because they may make life easier during those times when you’re not using touch (or you have a Surface Book) and you have a keyboard attached.

Generally speaking, the old Windows shortcuts still work but there are also some new ones that came with Windows 10 that can be quite useful.

Below is a list of shortcuts (old and new) that I put together to help you navigate this new Operating System, using your keyboard. [And, maybe, impress your boss or friends that may be looking over your shoulder with your awesome computer skills]

Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts:

Ctrl+C –  Copy the selected item

Ctrl+X  – Cut the selected item

Ctrl+V – Paste item from clipboard

Ctrl+Z – Undo an action

Alt+Tab  – Switch between open apps

Alt+F4 –  Close the active item, or exit the active app

Alt+Esc –  Cycle through open items in the order in which they were opened

Ctrl+A –  Select everything in open window or document

Ctrl+Y – Re-do an action

Ctrl+Esc – Open Start Menu

Alt+Enter – Display properties of selected item or file

Windows key +L   –   Lock your PC or switch between accounts

Windows logo +D   –   Display and hide the desktop

Windows logo +A  – Open the Action Center

Windows logo +S – Open Search

Windows logo +C  –  Open Cortana (in listening mode)

Windows logo +Tab – Open Task view, it shows all open items

Windows logo +Ctrl+D  –  Add a new virtual desktop

Windows logo +Ctrl+Right arrow   Switch between virtual desktops you’ve created on the right

Windows logo +Ctrl+Left arrow   Switch between virtual desktops you’ve created on the left

Windows logo +Ctrl+F4  Close the virtual desktop you’re using

Windows logo +E – Open File Explorer

Windows logo +H  – Open Share Charm

Windows logo +M – minimize all open windows\apps

Windows logo +R – open Run dialog box

Windows logo +, (comma) –  Temporarily peek at the desktop (goes away when you let go of the keys

There are, of course, many other keyboard shortcuts but these are my favorites and ones I use regularly. You can also set your own shortcuts to perform actions you do on regular basis but more on that in a later post.

Cheers!

Joanna-

How to Rollback Windows Updates on your Surface

You may have already noticed or heard that sometimes applying new updates cause problems on your Surface.

So, then what do you do when something like this happens?

Well, you can just rollback (or uninstall) the update or updates that are causing you problems. In order to successfully rollback a Windows update, you have to do two things:

  • First Disable Automatic Updates – if you don’t to this, the update will just try to re-install itself at the next opportunity.
  • Roll back the update through Control Panel – to actually remove the offending update.

It’s important to note that rolling back an update is usually something you would do as a temporary workaround to get your Surface back up and working. In an ideal world, Microsoft will issue a new update and that will solve your problem.

In addition, you need to acknowledge that it’s possible that the rollback will cause as many or more problems then leaving the problematic update in place.

So, before you attempt any rollback please make sure you BACKUP ANY DATA YOU CARE ABOUT FIRST!!!! That way, if something goes wrong and you tank your Surface you can always do a reset to get it back up and running without worrying about your data.

How to Rollback Windows Updates on your Surface: Disable Auto Updates

These steps will cover how to change your Windows updates settings to stop automatically installing when they become available.

Windows 10

In Windows 10, unfortunately, Microsoft has made it somewhat confusing to prevent some patches and upgrades from automatically happening (especially if you have a Surface 3). This is because Windows 10 Home edition (which the Surface 3 runs) cannot be configured to prevent security updates from being automatically installed.

In addition, while you can use methods like registry editing or Local Group Policy changes to prevent updates from installing on Windows 10 Professional (which is the version Surface Pros and Surface Books run), there are usually some pretty invasive side effects such as no longer being able to make changes to the update settings from the GUI and persistent “Some settings are managed by your organization” messages.

So, to prevent confusion, I recommend simply disabling the Windows Update service until you’re ready to try the updates again. This method will work on any Surface model running Windows 10.

Here are the steps:

  • Search for Services then select Services (Desktop App) from the results.
  • Scroll down and find the entry for Windows Update.

  • Double-tap/click it to bring up the Properties options.
  • Configure the Startup Type to be Disabled then tap or click the Stop button.

  • Tap or click OK then close the Services panel.

That’s it. Windows will no longer try to install updates. When you’re ready to allow Windows updates to work again, simply go back to the same screen, reverse the changes, and restart your Surface.

Windows 8.1

If you’re still running Windows 8.1, you could use the Windows 10 method to prevent updates from automatically installing. However, unlike Windows 10, Windows 8.1 offers much more control over how updates get installed without the need to turn services on and off.

  • Open Windows Update by going to the Charm Menu then Settings [Or from the Keyboard: Windows key + I, see our list of useful Surface shortcuts]
  • Tap Change PC settings

  • Tap Update and recovery

  • Tap Choose how updates get installed

  • Under Important updates, choose the option: Download Updates but let me choose whether to install them

  • Under Recommended updates, select the Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates check box, and then click Apply

These steps configure your Surface (running Windows 8.1) to download the updates and ask you to install them but, it won’t just automatically do it. Now you’re ready to rollback the troublesome update and not worry about it trying to automatically re-install itself.


How to Rollback Windows Updates on your Surface: Perform the Rollback

Keep in mind that Microsoft does not recommend doing this because updates are intended to “help enhance the security and performance of your computer”. However, if an update causes problems, you clearly have no choice.

As for actually rolling back the update, the method is the same for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 so, you can follow the same procedure as shown below:

  • Open Control Panel on the desktop
  • Tap Programs and Features

  • Under Programs and Features, tap View installed updates

  • Tap the update that you want to remove, and then click Uninstall.  If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation

After you uninstall the update(s), restart your Surface and it should be gone.

If you need help figuring out which update is the one causing your problems, you can refer to the Windows 10 Update History page Microsoft maintains. It lists a lot of information about the individual updates including the KB numbers which is really helpful for identifying them in the “Uninstall an update” list.

We hope this helps you solve any update-induced problems and, as usual, if you have questions please let us know.

Tim

LAST UPDATE: 15/2/2016

Send a Screenshot to OneNote 2016

After my recent post about changes to the Surface app that allows users to customize what the Pen does on later Surface Pro tablets and Surface Books, a lot of people started asking if it was possible to capture a screenshot to OneNote 2016. As you probably know, currently the built-in screenshot Pen action opens the Universal/Modern/Metro (whatever they’re calling it now) version of OneNote instead.

So to make this possible for folks, I built a small, bare-bones, program that simply captures a screenshot to the clipboard and opens OneNote 2016. From there, all you have to do is paste it normally and resize it however you want.

Note: This program will not work if you are running Windows 8.x because the Surface app is more limited. So, these instructions are for Windows 10 devices only. Also, I didn’t have a copy of Office 2013 to test, so if you’re still running that version of Office, it might not work.

Send a Screenshot to OneNote 2016: How-To

Be aware that the program I made isn’t particularly “smart”, it will only work if OneNote 2016 is installed to the default location. If OneNote 2016 is missing or in a different location, it will try to “fallback” to using the built-in version of OneNote. When it does, it will display an error message (though it disappears when the built-in version of OneNote starts).

If neither version of OneNote is installed (or in the default location), you’ll just get an error message.

OK, now that you know all that, here’s how you can get and configure the executable:

  • Download the screen2onenote2016 executable as a zip file: HERE (you may get an alert from your browser, if you do, bypass it)
  • Extract the executable from the zip file and place it in a location taht it won’t get accidentally deleted (I put mine in the root of my profile folder – c:\users\jrte).
  • If you haven’t already, download and install the Surface App from the Windows Store.
  • Start the Surface App and select the Pen option from the left side of the screen.

  • Scroll down to the Button Customization section and select the pulldown for the Double-click action.

  • Select Launch a Desktop App from the pulldown.
  • The Browse for a program option will appear, select it, then browse to and select the screen2onenote2016.exe file.

That’s it. Now when you double-click the eraser button on your Surface Pen, OneNote 2016 will open. Once it’s open, just paste the picture normally. When the picture is pasted, just be aware that you may need to resize it on the page.

Oh, one last thing, if you ever get an error like this one:

It probably means that the screen2outlook2016.exe file got moved or deleted. In that case, download another copy or re-point the double-click action to the new location.

Like I said, it’s not fancy but it works pretty well for me. I hope you find it useful too.

Tim

Print From Surface Tablets 101

Microsoft Surfaces are full blown Windows devices. They are, also, geared to be full fledged wireless devices. That doesn’t mean that you no longer need to print… Of course you do, there are some things that have to be done on paper (as much as we hate it). Connecting your Surface to a printer allows you to print as you would from any other computer.

This post is a first in a series on Printing From Your Surface and it is intended to give you the basics on how to set up printing from your Surface device. The steps outlined below are for Windows 10 but most of them work the same or very similar in Windows 8.x, as well.

Here are the basic three options for printing from your Surface:

  • USB cable directly to the printer
  • WiFi-enabled printer
  • Google Cloud Print

I will take these one at a time, starting with directly connecting to the printer via USB cable…

Print From Surface: USB Cable

Advantage: you can have a printer permanently hooked up to your docking station and anytime you are at your desk, the printer is ready to print.
Disadvantage: you can only print when connected to the printer directly, so a very small range\distance.

Most new printers will be detected by Windows 10 (or Windows 8) on your Surface, as soon as you connect them with a USB cable (make sure the printer is ON). If, however, your Surface doesn’t recognize a connected printer, you can add it manually. Here’s how:

  • Connect the printer to your Surface using a USB cable.
  • Turn the printer ON.
  • On your Surface search for “printers”, choose Devices and Printers from results.

  • Tap on Add a printer, Windows will automatically start looking for printers.

  • Select your printer from the list and click Next, then click Finish.

The Surface will now be able to send files to your printer.

Print From Surface: WiFi-enabled printer

Advantage: you can print from your Surface from anywhere in the room, from the coach watching TV, or from your patio.
Disadvantage: you must have a WiFi-enabled printer, usually this means a newer model.

Your Surface device is designed to recognize Windows-compatible wireless printers automatically. This means that you typically don’t need to worry about drivers, cables, etc.

However, if for some reason, the Surface doesn’t detect the wireless printer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions (that came with your WiFi printer) to add it to your wireless network

Note:  The printer must be connected to the same network as your Surface. In a complex office environment where there are multiple wirless networks (or subnets), this might be tricky.

Print From Surface: Google Cloud Print

Advantage: you can printer from anywhere, like an airport, and find the printout ready to pick up when you get to your printer.
Disadvantage: you have to use Chrome on every device that you will be printing from, including your Surface.

Before connecting your classic printer, confirm if you have:

  • Google Chrome installed.
  • At least one printer set up via one of the methods above (USB or WiFi) on a machine (it doesn’t have to be on your Surface but you have to do the steps below on the computer that has the printer attached).
  • Google account that you can use to configure the Google Cloud Printer.

Note: To see if your printer is cloud-ready, go to Google’s Cloud Ready Printers listing.

Then, follow the steps below to enable the Google Cloud Print:

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. In a new tab, open chrome://devices 
  3. Login with your Google account (bottom right corner). 
  4. Now you’ll see a list of devices already registered with Google Cloud Print (if any).
  5. Under “Classic printers,” click Add printers.
  6. You’ll see a a list of printers from your device that are ready to be registered, as well as an option to Automatically register new printers. 
  7. Check the printers  you want to connect (or un-check ones you don’t want) and click Add Printer(s)
  8. You will see a message acknowledging that your printers are registered.  

Now you can print from any device (including your Surface) and from any location, as long as you login to the same Google account. In case you don’t know how, I will cover steps on how to actually print to a Google Cloud Printer in my next article.

Note: To connect classic printers in a business (or school) environment, you can use the Cloud Print Connector service on Windows Server. More on this in a later post, as well.

Ok, now you have the basics. I personally have an inexpensive USB printer that is hooked up to my docking station and I use the Google Cloud Print to print via distance. This way I don’t have to pay for a new WiFi printer and still have the convenience of printing remotely.

Do you have an interesting way that you set up your printing that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.

Cheers.

Joanna-

Weekly Surface News Roundup – 3 January 2016

The holidays are always a sparse time for Surface-related news. Right after Christmas, companies stop announcing their plans and scale back their rollouts because they know that many people are too busy crashing their new drones to pay attention 🙂

However, as always, there were a few notable Surface-related stories this week. Here’s the run-down:

  • Promising Surface Phone Concept
  • SP4 Release Date for India
  • Windows 10 Growth Slows

OK, let’s jump in.

[divider]

Weekly Surface News Roundup: Promising Surface Phone Concept

With the low adoption rate of Windows Phones (many tech pundits have written them off as a flop), it seems odd that there are still rumors coming out of Microsoft that a new “Surface Phone” will be released this year.

So, I got to wondering, what would Microsoft have to build to make a “killer” Surface Phone that everyone would want? It seems I’m not the only one. DeviantArt user, DKIRRO put together a concept Surface Phone with as stylish edge to edge screen and metallic build – click the DeviantArt link below to see the concept.

In addition, unlike so many phone concepts, he even included specs:

  • Intel Atom X7 processor (same family as a Surface 3)
  • OLED display with Quad HD resolution (size unspecified)
  • 64GB of internal storage
  • 21-megapixel rear camera featuring triple-LED flash & 6-way stabilization
  • 3D front-facing camera supporting Windows Hello
  • A 3100 mAh battery
  • HTC’s BoomSound technology with what looks to be dual speakers at the top of the handset
  • A USB Type-C port
  • Force Touch
  • Windows 10 Mobile OS

So, while I know this is just a concept, I’m curious. If Microsoft releases a phone with these (or close to these) features, would you buy it? Do you think it would finally be the device that put Windows Phones “on the map?”

Related: Phones Review, DeviantArt  [divider]

Weekly Surface News Roundup: SP4 Release Date for India

Earlier this week, Microsoft sent out invites to the media informing of a launch event in New Delhi on January 7th. According to Surface Pro 4 release on the tropical subcontinent.

So, if you’re in India and are itching to get your hands on a new SP4, your wait is (very likely) just about over.

Related: BGR, Digit [divider]

Weekly Surface News Roundup: Windows 10 Growth Slows

If you’ve resisted the free upgrade to Windows 10 on your Surface, you’re not alone. While Windows 10 adoption has been steadily growing at a low rate, the growth seems to be slowing.

According to numbers from Netmarketshare, Windows 10 adoption grew by 1.42% in September, in October it grew by 1.31% and in November, it increased another 1.06% percentage points. Following this decreasing trend, in December, Windows 10 saw a mere 0.96% growth in adoption. For an operating system that’s not only free but being “forcefully” pushed onto users, that trend has to be concerning Microsoft.

Let’s face it, you would expect a “free” operating system that’s being pushed onto users to be getting more gains than that. So, why isn’t it?

My theory is that many Windows tablet owners (Surface) are happy with Windows 8.1. Factor in the fact that many businesses are hanging onto Win XP and Win 7 like a dog with a bone. So, will Microsoft just push Windows 10 adoption harder? Or, will they change tactics and fix whatever is holding people back?

I guess we’ll find out together.

Related: Betanews [divider]

That’s it for this week’s Surface news roundup. Come back next week to stay informed about news affecting Surface tablets.

Tim

Using Windows 10 System Protection For Surface Tablets

In this article, I’m going to cover how to configure and use Windows 10 System Protection. This is the fifth and final installment in the series on Windows 10 Backup and Recovery Mechanisms For Surface Tablets (or other PCs running Windows 10). If you want to view the previous articles, you can find them at the links below:

The System Protection feature in Windows 10 saves important information on your Surface such as drivers, programs, registry, system files, and settings into “restore points”. Windows automatically creates these restore points when you install or uninstall software and when patches are installed via Windows Updates.

It will also automatically create a restore point if none have been created in the past seven days through installation of software or patches. In addition, you can also manually create a restore point at any time.

With System Protection active, you can easily undo undesired or accidental system changes by reverting the files on your Surface to a previous point in time.

Using Windows 10 System Protection: Configure

By default, System Protection is turned on for your C:\ drive and, frankly, there’s aren’t that many options to configure it because it’s all pretty automatic. So, if you don’t want to mess with the configuration, you can probably safely skip this section.

If you want to alter the configuration, just follow these steps to get to the System Protection settings window:

  • Tap and hold (right-click) the Start Button then select System from the options that appear.

  • Select System Protection from the left side of the window that appears.

  • Select the drive you want to configure System Protection settings on, then tap or click the Configure button.

From here, you can basically do two things. You can turn System Protection on and off via the radio button. You can also adjust the amount of drive space that will be dedicated for System Protection backups. It works on a “first in – first out” basis; so, once the backups fill the assigned amount of space, older backups will “fall off”.

The more space you assign to System Protection, the more restore points you can keep but it’s going to take up more space on your Surface’s hard drive. So, you’ll have to consider your choice carefully. My recommendation is to allocate no more than 5 to 10% of your hard drive to this feature.

Windows 10 System Protection: Manually Create a Restore Point

If you’re about to make a big change to your system, like deleting a bunch of files or performing a disk cleanup, you may want to consider manually making a restore point – just in case something goes wrong. To do so, just select the Create button outlined below:

Windows 10 System Protection: Restore To An Earlier Time

From Within Windows

If your Surface is able to boot into Windows but you want to do a System Restore because it’s acting weird (for example, right after you installed a program that happened to be a virus), you can easily do so by following the steps below:

  • Tap and hold (right-click) the Start Button then select System from the options that appear.

  • Select System Protection from the left side of the window that appears.

  • Select the System Restore button.

  • From here, you can select which restore point you want to use. By default, it will choose the recommended restore point (which is usually the latest).

  • Select Next, and follow the prompts.

Just be aware that any changes you made between the date of the System Restore backup you’re using and now will be wiped out. This includes software you may have installed and updates that were installed (which is kind of the point, isn’t it?)

From a Recovery Drive

The steps above tell you how to use a restore point when things go wrong in your system, but only if Windows is still able to boot on your Surface. So, what happens if you can’t boot your Surface? In this case, you can use a Surface up and running again.

If you don’t have a recovery drive (you should, you know…) you can try to boot your computer and if it fails three times, it will trigger the automatic repair environment in Windows 10, which will also let you access the option to use a restore point. In either case, once you get into the recovery options, the steps to restore the restore point are the same:

  • Click Next, and click Repair your computer.
  • Click on Troubleshoot, Advanced options, System Restore.
  • System Restore will load, and you can use the previous steps from Using System Restore to restore your system.

Windows 10 System Protection: Restore Individual Files

Microsoft designed System Protection to be an all or nothing feature because, usually, you’re restoring your system to an earlier time due to a system crash or bad software install/update.

However, with a little bit of help from a 3rd party program, you can copy individual files and folders out of the System Protection  and backup data much like you can with File History (but without the need for a separate backup drive).

You’ll need a program called System Restore Explorer which can be downloaded from: HERE.

It’s free and easy to use. Basically, after the program is installed, you just run it then pick the restore point you want to mount. After it’s mounted, you can easily copy out individual files and folders.

So, now you should have a pretty good idea how to configure and use the Windows 10 System Protection feature on your Surface. If you use it along with the other built-in technologies in Windows 10, you will be able to easily recover from just about any type of data loss.

Tim

Surface App For Windows 10 Review

Interested in adjusting your Surface Pen pressure sensitivity? How about choosing which OneNote opens when you click top button? Or maybe even disabling the Windows button?

These were all things you could do with the Surface App in Windows 8.x, see Microsoft Instructions. Pretty cool, eh?

Well it was. Unfortunately, the Surface App for Windows 10 is not the same. And like many other apps in Windows 10, it has seriously been scaled down to the point of barely being useful.

I don’t know why Microsoft started this trend with Windows 10 but it really kind of sucks.

So, what can you do with the Surface App for Windows 10?

One thing only: Adjust the Surface Pen pressure sensitivity. That’s it.

Here is how:

  • Open Surface App (in Windows 10 it’s pre-installed)
  • Click on the little Pen icon on the left

  • Choose the pressure sensitivity you like, you can ink test in the second square.

  • Once you’ve selected the sensitivity you like, simply exit the app.

If you’re curious what the smiley face is, go ahead and click it. It show information about your device and drivers but even that is incomplete – it’d be nice to see your IP address and hardware information here. If you scroll way to the bottom, you can also provide feedback about your device to Microsoft.

That’s it. That is all you can do with the Surface App for Windows 10. it is seriously lacking. Rather than improving upon the app, Microsoft chose to scale it down to nearly nothing.

So, although it may be helpful in adjusting the Pen pressure (and even that is limited), it is not good for anything else.

I’d give this app two thumbs down, simply because it is not very useful. Personally, I think that Microsoft should develop this app to accommodate all common Surface device settings, such as Pen buttons, touch calibration, security settings, etc. that way we, as the owners, wouldn’t have to hunt down all these different settings scattered within the OS.

Joanna-

Windows 10 Battery Saver On Surface Tablets

This post was prompted by a comment one of our readers left on our Surface Pro 3 and a Surface Pro 4 and didn’t realize that the Surface Pro 4 was running on battery while the Surface Pro 3 was plugged in.

His assessment was that the devices didn’t show any difference in performance until he realized that they were not both plugged in.  Once he powered the Surface Pro 4, it really improved its performance and outshined the SP3.

What’s the reason for this? Most likely, it is the Battery Saver feature of Windows 10 that when turned on, limits background activity and adjusts the hardware to conserve battery. While this feature was an impediment to his testing, it can be a very useful feature if you’re trying to maximize your Surface’s battery life.

Windows 10 Battery Saver: What is it?

This is a new feature of Windows 10 that conserves battery life on mobile devices, such as your Surface. It does so by limiting background activity (such as processes and apps) and adjusting hardware settings. This would account for what our aforementioned reader was seeing – scaled down performance due to these adjustments.

This feature is turned OFF by default and to take advantage of it, you will need to turn it ON.

Windows 10 Battery Saver: How it works

When you turn on Battery Saver, the following things will stop working or will become limited to save power:

  1. Background apps will not run
  2. Live Tiles will not update
  3. Email app and Calendar app will not automatically update
  4. Windows Updates will not automatically download
  5. Screen will dim (this is adjustable)


Other things of note:
  • When the feature is turned ON, the battery savings will kick on automatically when your battery life falls below 20%.
  • You can view details about your battery usage in the Battery Use section.
  • You can add certain apps to be exempt from Battery Saver.

Windows 10 Battery Saver: How to find it

  • Launch the Settings app – by swiping from right and choosing All Settings or pressing Win key + I on the keyboard
  • Choose System and then Battery Saver
  • Now you can adjust the settings

Windows 10 Battery Saver: Advanced settings

Under the Battery Saver Settings, you can adjust the following:

  • Set battery life % at which to kick on the saver (if you really need to stretch your battery life, you could set this value for 100% to maximize power savings. For example, if you’re on a trans-pacific flight and your charger is in you checked bag.)
  • Lower screen brightness – On or Off setting
  • Allow push notifications from any app while in Battery Saver mode
  • Add the applications that are allowed to run in the background while Battery Saver is on. It may be a good idea to allow your Mail and Calendar here or perhaps Skype – you get to decide what’s important to you.

The Battery Saver is an easy feature to configure and use and it can help extend the life of your battery. It might only help a little bit, but hey, anything is better than nothing, right?

If your battery drains very quickly on a Surface with Windows 10, you may also like our post on Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Battery Drain Issues.

Cheers!

Joanna-