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Microsoft Surface tricks
© Jeanette Teare |

5 Microsoft Surface tips that most people don’t know about

Tablets are great for graphic design, art, gaming, and watching your favorite shows and viral video clips. Sure, your phone can do all that, but isn’t it better with a big screen? Tap or click here for the best tablets based on your needs and budget.

Prefer working on a PC? Microsoft’s Surface is a great desktop and mobile hybrid for anyone. They’re laptops when you need them and touch screen tablets when you don’t.

But what else can your Microsoft Surface do? It’s more than you think. Keep reading for tips to make Surface even more useful and help you get more out of its integrated features.

1. You can provide a real signature within Word documents

Signing up with online document signature sites and services can be annoying (and expensive). If you own a license to Microsoft Word or are subscribed to Office 365, you can sign documents inside of Word without paying for an external service.

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Here’s how to sign a Word document using your Surface Pen:

  1. Open a Word document.
  2. Click on the tab at the top of Word labeled Review.
  3. Select Start Inking.
  4. Select the Pen Tool to sign your name. You can adjust the color and line thickness here.
  5. Follow the prompts to finish.

2. Remote collaboration in real-time

Sometimes text isn’t enough to explain yourself to a colleague or classmate. Text messages and emails can lose context, so you can use Whiteboard on your Surface to communicate with others through visuals.

Microsoft Whiteboard is an official app that Microsoft’s Head of Industrial Design personally uses. Many projects require different mediums to work together.

Whiteboard is exactly what you think it is. A virtual whiteboard that feels like MS Paint and works as a collaborative tool. You can see what other users are sketching in real-time and make changes on the fly.

3. Use the Surface Pen to take screenshots

Snip & Sketch is one of Surface’s best tools. You can use this to take screenshots with your Surface Pen, allowing you to share images in Microsoft Whiteboard or hold onto them for reference.

The Surface Pen has an eraser button. Click it twice, and it will take a screenshot. You’ll be prompted to crop the image, so if you don’t want the entire webpage, you can scale it down. You can also edit the image by drawing on it to add notes or circle important details.

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4. Turn your Surface into an external monitor

If you need more screen real estate in your home office, you can temporarily use your Surface as a second monitor. Because it’s its own PC, you can quickly transfer files to your Surface if you need to grab it and head out the door, making it much more helpful than screen mirroring with a tablet.

Here is how to do it:

  1. In both your primary PC and Surface, go to the search option, type in Projection Settings, and click on it.
  2. Hit the Windows Key and the P key simultaneously on your primary PC.
  3. You’ll get the option to Connect to a Wireless Display.
  4. Select your chosen second screen from the list. In this case, it’s your Surface.
  5. A prompt will appear requesting that you Always Allow this option. Click Ok to continue.
  6. A code will pop up on your Surface. Enter the code into the prompt on your primary PC.
  7. Press the Windows Key and the P key again to open up the Connect to a Wireless Display menu once more.
  8. Under those options, select Extend from the menu.

You should now see a second desktop appear on your Surface. It will be controllable with your mouse and keyboard on your primary PC.

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5. Set your connection to metered, so you don’t rack up data fees

Your Surface can have a data plan just like your cell phone. This is extremely useful if you take your Surface with you to a remote location that doesn’t have Wi-Fi.

Windows 10 and 11 automatically set your connection to metered while using mobile data. A metered connection can save you extra fees if you use an ISP that puts a data limit on your monthly internet usage.

A metered connection still uses data, but it tells your Surface not to use up the entire bandwidth. This setting will communicate with apps on your Surface so that they don’t operate in the background and use data for unnecessary tasks.

To set a metered connection, this is what you have to do.

  1. Find your Wi-Fi connection in the bottom right corner of your Surface and click on it.
  2. Click on the connection you’re currently using.
  3. Once you click on it, an option labeled Metered Connection will pop up. Use the on-screen button and set it to On.

This will only impact the current Wi-Fi you’re connected to. You have to set this every time you connect to a new network.

Don’t have a Microsoft Surface? Here are great options

Here are a few popular Microsoft Surface models to choose from. They range in price, depending on your needs.

A few extra things your Microsoft Surface can do

These tips are great and point out what Surface can do, but if you’re entirely new to using a Surface, here are some other things you can use it for:

  • View and reply to text messages.
  • Make sketches on Maps.
  • Use picture-in-picture mode for multitasking.
  • Scan documents and files for your OneDrive.
  • Sync phone and Surface operations for excellent efficiency.

Microsoft Surface FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Microsoft Surface products:

How long can a Microsoft Surface battery last?

Depending on how you use it, the current gen 8 Surface products last for an average of 16 hours. Brightness settings, graphics-heavy tasks such as design and other applications may reduce battery time based on what you use it for.

How much RAM does a Microsoft Surface have?

Surface models vary between 4 GB to 16 GB of RAM, depending on the generation and model. Pro models come with more RAM to help with heavy creative tasks.

Is Surface better than a traditional laptop?

In performance and functionality, Surface products are better than most laptops. Between having the option of touch screen operation or hooking up a keyboard and mouse, you also get excellent speeds and high performance. They have to compete with Apple and fare well in this regard.

Keep reading

How to see everything Microsoft knows about you and shut down tracking

7 free alternatives to Microsoft Word

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