Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Problems

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Problems

Are you having Surface touch screen problems?

It can be really frustrating if you are. The Surface is primarily a touch-screen device and if the touch functionality is acting up, it pretty much makes the Surface useless.

Fortunately, troubleshooting and fixing touch screen issues is possible to do on your own and I’ll cover how to do so in this post.

I’ll start with the most common/easiest things to try and I will keep escalating to more difficult, as I go a long. Hopefully, your problem will be resolved in the first or second step but, if not, don’t worry as I have a lot of different things you can try.

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Issues: Shutdown the Surface

I know it’s really cliché but, simply shutting it down and restarting it works a surprising percentage of the time. And the best part is that it’s simple, just shutdown your Surface from the power icon on the Start Screen.

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Issues - Shutdown

After it’s powered down, give it 10-15 seconds then power it back up. Hopefully, your problem was just a driver glitch and nothing systemic. If that’s the case, this will probably do the trick.

NOTE: If you have a Surface RT or Surface 2, the icon I referenced above won’t be present if Windows 8.1 Update 1 has been installed (Microsoft decided to remove it). So, to get to the Shutdown command, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen to bring up the Charms Menu
  • Select Settings
  • Select Power
  • Select Shut Down

Basically the same thing, just a slightly different place.

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Issues: Clean the Screen

Is that atomic wing sauce or pizza sauce smeared on the screen? In either case, it can screw up the ability of the screen to pickup touches accurately or maybe even at all (although it’s not likely) so get rid of it!

The best way to clean the screen is with a damp lint-free cloth but do not apply liquids directly to the screen as it could cause problems if it were to get inside the Surface case. If you have it, you could also use something like eyeglass cleaning solution instead of water but make sure you apply it to the cloth and not the screen.

Of course, you could try something like the method below. It’s very cute but I really wouldn’t recommend cleaning it this way…

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Issues-Licking Method

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Issues: Update Drivers

OK, if cleaning the screen didn’t do the trick let’s make sure that you’ve installed all of the available updates. Sometimes Microsoft releases fixes for problems on days other than the normal monthly patch Tuesdays, without any prior notification.

They would probably say it’s to address problems as quickly as possible and while that is probably partly true, I imagine it’s also because they’re hoping people won’t notice something was broken.

To check for Windows updates, follow these steps:

  • Bring up the Search Charm and look for “Updates”.

  • Choose Check for Updates from the options shown.

  • Tap the Check Now button.
  • If there are any updates, go ahead and install them.

After the updates install, you’ll want to restart your Surface. When it comes back up hopefully, everything will be working just fine.

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Issues: Calibrate the Touch Screen

If the problem you’re having is that the touchscreen just seems off and it’s difficult to tap on things accurately, you could try re-calibrating the device or resetting the calibration to defaults.

It just so happens, we did a post on doing that a while back and we recently updated it for the new Surface Pro 3 tablets

You can find it HERE. If that’s not your problem, read on…

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Issues: Check for File Corruption

It’s possible that some important system files got corrupted on your Surface tablet. This happens most often with desktops and laptops because people don’t always power them down gracefully but it could happen on your Surface as well.

To fix it, we have some steps from a previous post (ISSUES WITH SURFACE TABLET) that should help if that’s the cause of your touchscreen problems.

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Issues: Refresh or Reset

If you’re still having problems with the touchscreen, we’re down to trying a refresh or a reset of your Surface. It will take some time but you can try these steps in the following order  to get your surface working properly with the touchscreen again

  • Refresh Surface: Refreshing your Surface reinstalls Windows but keeps your personal files, settings, apps that came installed on your Surface, and those you’ve installed from the Windows Store. Desktop apps you installed on a Surface Pro/Book or Surface 3 will need to be re-installed.
  • Reset Surface: Resetting your Surface completely reinstalls Windows and resets it back to “factory default” so all of your apps and local data will be gone; so make sure you backup everything you want to keep to Onedrive.
NOTE: If you updated Surface Pro from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, a refresh or reset will re-install Windows 8 (not Windows 8.1) and you’ll need to re-install the Windows 8.1 update along with who knows how many other updates.

For more detailed how-to info, see these links….

Troubleshoot Surface Touch Screen Issues: Call Microsoft Support

If the touchscreen still isn’t working correctly after following these steps, your Surface needs more help than I can give you via this article.

It’s time to throw in the towel and either take a trip to your local Microsoft Store or request service at the Surface Online Service Center if you don’t have one nearby.

I hope you found this helpful.


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