How To Set Up Your Surface Pro's Pen

The Microsoft Surface line of laptops, desktops and convertible notebooks all feature an optional Surface Pen -- Microsoft's stylus that lets you write, draw and annotate documents and images. It works fine right out of the box, but if you find yourself at all frustrated with its functionality, you can customise it to fit your writing and drawing habits.

Image credit: Tim Warner/Getty

Pick Your Dominant Hand First

Before you do anything else, you should configure your Surface Pen to work with the hand you write with the most. Head to your Settings page, select Devices, and click Pen & Windows Ink (or type "windows ink" in your Start menu's search bar). Selecting the right-handed or left-handed option will determine how Windows 10 detects (and ignores) pressure that that hand might apply to the screen while you're drawing or writing with the Surface Pen.

Configure Your Handwriting

Writing with the Surface Pen is a pleasant experience, but you can improve its handwriting recognition software with a little practise. In the Pen & Windows Ink page, where you chose your writing hand, select Improve Recognition under the Handwriting Input Panel section.

You can either correct particular errors related to your sloppy handwriting, or write complete sentences to get Windows 10 acquainted with your particular style. You'll type a few sentences so the software can tell how you cross your t's and dot your i's, which is sent to Microsoft for analysing. You can even go more in-depth and help the handwriting software identify the difference between similar characters such as Z and 2, or the number 1 and letter L.

Tweak Your Sensitivity

You may be uncomfortable with the amount of force you need to apply with the Surface Pen to your laptop's screen to get a darker line. If you want more easily attainable darker lines, download the Surface app from the Microsoft store (or search for it in your Start Menu's taskbar) to access more configuration options for the Surface Pen.

You'll be able to adjust and test your Surface Pen's line pressure, and tweak it until you're satisfied with its output. Choosing a lighter pen pressure makes it easier to create darker lines, while going the other way means you'll be mashing the stylus into the screen to create prominent lines.

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Customise your Clicker

Depending on your model, your Surface Pen may have an eraser tip that doubles as an extra button, which you can reprogram if you're not a fan of its default functionality that either opens Microsoft OneNote or grabs a screenshot of your display. That eraser button is great for instantly capturing what's on your display for sharing, cropping or annotating.

In the Pen & Windows Ink section of your Settings page, you can assign new shortcut actions to your pen's eraser. Maybe you want it to launch your Windows Ink Workspace, Microsoft's OneNote, a classic Windows app, or a universal app from Microsoft's store. If you choose a classic app, you'll be asked to browse for its executable file from your file explorer. Universal apps will be shown in a drop-down menu below your shortcut choice. You can also configure your eraser button to work as an easy shortcut to your device's voice assistant - it's the only way to launch Cortana with the Surface Pen, actually.

The eraser button supports up to three actions depending on how you click it (single click, double click, or holding the clicker down). You can configure the feature in the Pen & Windows Ink section.

Buy Some Batteries

The Surface Pen is tiny, and lasts quite a while, but it isn't some perpetual motion machine, nor does it get recharged when you attach it to your Surface device. To juice your stylus, you'll need AAAA batteries. Yeah, that's four A's. Lucky for everyone, they're pretty cheap, and a single pack will last you more than a year (depending on how prolific you are with the artistry).

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