Troubleshoot Microsoft Surface Pen

Operating system:

Here are things to try if your Surface Pen won’t write, open apps, or connect to Bluetooth.


Things to try first

  • Check whether you can open apps and use your Surface with your finger. If not, go to Surface touchscreen: Problems with touch for troubleshooting steps. After touch is working, try your pen again.
  • Test your pen by inking, writing, or erasing in OneNote, Microsoft Edge, or Fresh Paint. If your pen works in one of these apps, then the app that didn’t work probably doesn’t support Surface Pen.
  • Install Surface and Windows updates. It may help fix problems with your Surface Pen. For more info, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

Video: Troubleshoot your Surface Pen

Note

This video is available in English only.

How do I know which Surface Pen I have?

Newest Surface Pen with no clip

Works with Surface 3 and later models. On the newest Surface Pro, you can tilt this pen to shade your sketches.

1 Top button
2 LED light
3 Right-click button
4 Tip

Surface Pen with single long button on a flat edge

Works with Surface Pro 4 and later models.

1 Top button
2 LED
3 Cap
4 Clip
5 Magnet
6 Right-click button
7 Tip

Surface Pen with two buttons on the side

Works with Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3.

1 Top button
2 AAAA battery
3 Right-click button
4 Eraser button
5 Tip

The light on my pen is blinking red or doesn’t turn on

That means the AAAA battery is low and needs to be replaced. Here’s how to change it.

Newest Surface Pen with no clip

Pull the top end straight out from the bottom. Replace the battery, and push the two parts of the pen back together.

Surface Pen with a single long button on a flat edge

To see how to open the pen, go here .

Turn the cap, or eraser end, counter-clockwise to the body a short ways until it clicks. Gently pull the cap straight out from the body. Replace the AAAA battery with the negative (-) end of the battery pointing toward the writing tip.

To replace the cap, line up the metal guide bump on the cap with the half-circle cutaway on the body, and slide the cap back into place. Turn the cap a little bit to align the flat edges.

Surface Pen with two buttons on the side

Unscrew the top of the pen from the bottom. Replace the AAAA battery with the positive (+) end of the battery pointing toward the writing tip. Screw the top back on.

The buttons don't work or the writing is jagged or inaccurate

Those things also mean that the AAAA battery is running low and need to be replaced.

My pen isn't connected with my Surface

Step 1: On Surface Pen, press and hold the top button until the LED light blinks to make it discoverable.
Step 2:

On your PC, select the Start  button, then select Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices.

Step 3: Make sure Bluetooth is on, then select Add Bluetooth or other device > Bluetooth. Choose Surface Pen in the list of devices. Follow any other instructions if they appear, then select Done.

My pen won't pair with my Surface or open apps

Press and hold the top button for 5-7 seconds.

If the LED light blinks continuously:

That means the pen is receiving power and is trying to pair with a device. Follow the steps to pair Surface Pen with your Surface. If that doesn't work, restart your Surface and try pairing again.

If the LED light blinks for 2-3 seconds:

That means your pen is already paired to another nearby Surface.

To fix this, find the Surface and remove the pen. For info about how to remove it, see Remove a Bluetooth device. You’ll need to look for Surface Pen in the list of Bluetooth devices.

After you remove the pairing, go back to the Surface you want to use Surface Pen with and pair it again.

Clicking or double-clicking the buttons doesn’t do what I want

Make sure Bluetooth is on and your pen is connected to your Surface. See the section My Pen isn't connected with the Surface for details. You can change your pen shortcuts so the buttons do what you want them to.

Step 1: In the taskbar, select Windows Ink Workspace.

Step 2: Select Pen & Windows Ink settings.
Step 3: Under Pen shortcuts, choose Windows Ink Workspace or the app you want to open for each pen shortcut.

The pen tip is broken, lost, or worn out

For the newest Surface Pen with no clip and the Surface Pen with a single long button on a flat edge, you can get a pen tip kit at a Microsoft Store or online. Pen tip kits are different for each pen; make sure you get a kit that matches your Surface Pen model.

For the Surface Pen with two side buttons, you can order tips from Device Support. To order pen tips, your Surface needs to be registered, and you have to sign in with your Microsoft account.


If your Surface Pen won’t write, open OneNote, or connect to Bluetooth, the solution may be as simple as installing updates, replacing batteries or the tip, or pairing your pen with your Surface.


Notes
  • Surface Pen is designed for Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3. It doesn’t work with other Surface models. For help troubleshooting the pen that comes with Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, see Troubleshoot Pro Pen.
  • Surface Pen uses two types of batteries:
    • Writing, erasing and right-clicking are powered by one AAAA alkaline battery you install in the bottom part of the pen.
    • Opening OneNote and taking screenshots are powered by two pre-installed, size 319 silver-oxide coin cell batteries in the top of the pen.

Before you begin

Install Surface and Windows updates

Installing the latest updates may help fix problems with your Surface Pen. Here’s how:

Step 1: 

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)

Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings > Update and recovery.
Step 3: Tap or click Check now. If updates are available, tap or click View details.
Step 4: Choose the updates you want to install.
If you have a Surface Pro 3, be sure to select Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB2968599) if it's available.
Step 5: Tap or click Install.
You may need to restart your Surface after the updates have installed.
Step 6: Repeat steps 1 through 5 to make sure you have all the updates.

Make sure the Surface Touch Controller firmware is installed correctly

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)
Step 2: Tap or click Change PC Settings > Control Panel.
Step 3: Tap or click Hardware and Sound > Device Manager.
Step 4: Tap or click the arrow next to Firmware and look for the touch controller firmware for your Surface:
  • Surface Pro 3: Look for Surface Pro Touch Controller Firmware.
  • Surface 3: Look for Surface Touch Controller Firmware.
Step 5: 

Next:

  • If the firmware is in the list and you don’t see a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark Yellow triangle icon, the firmware is installed correctly. Skip the rest of this procedure and try the suggested solutions for your problem.
  • If the firmware isn’t in the list, you need to install all the latest updates (see above). Then, start again with this procedure.
  • If the firmware name is in the list but has a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark Yellow triangle icon next to it, go to Step 6.
Step 6: Restart your Surface.
Be sure to choose Restart—not Shut down—when you tap or click the Power Power button icon button.
Step 7: Follow steps 1 through 4 again to make sure the touch controller firmware is installed correctly.
If you still see the yellow triangle, contact us.

Pen won’t write, and right-click and eraser buttons don’t work

If your Surface Pen doesn’t write and the right-click button and eraser button don’t work, you’ll need to install, reinstall or replace the AAAA battery. Here’s how:

Step 1: 

Unscrew the top of the pen from the bottom and remove the AAAA battery (if there is one).

Surface Pen AAAA battery

If the battery was installed with the negative (–) end pointing toward the writing tip, put it back in with the positive (+) end pointing toward the writing tip and skip to Step 3.

Step 2: Insert the AAAA battery, wrapped in the paper label from the top of the pen, with the positive (+) end of the battery pointing toward the writing tip.
Step 3: Screw the top back on.

Pen writes, but right-click or eraser button doesn’t work

Many apps support the right-click and eraser buttons, but others don’t. If the pen writes, but the right-click and eraser buttons don’t work in OneNote, contact us.

Pen writes, but writing is jagged or inaccurate

If writing becomes jagged or inaccurate, the AAAA battery is running low. To replace the battery, see Pen won’t write, and right-click and eraser buttons don’t work, above.

I didn’t pair my pen during setup

Surface Pro 3: During setup, Windows prompts you to pair your Surface Pen with your Surface. If you skip that step or you’re interrupted before the pen is paired, you can pair them manually.

Surface 3: During setup, Windows doesn’t prompt you to pair your Surface Pen with your Surface 3. Instead, you need to pair them manually.

To learn how to pair your pen with your Surface, see Pair your Surface Pen manually, below.

Clicking the top button doesn’t open OneNote

If OneNote doesn’t open when you click the top button, OneNote might not be installed, the pen might not be paired with your Surface, or you might need to replace the coin cell batteries.

Note
Surface Pen can be paired with only one Surface at a time.

Solution 1: Make sure OneNote is installed

Here’s how you can make sure you have OneNote installed on your Surface:

Step 1: 

On the Start screen, slide up from the middle of the screen to get to Apps view.
(If you’re using a mouse, click the down arrow Down arrow in the lower-left corner of the screen.)

Step 2: Look for the OneNote app. This is easiest if you sort your apps by name.
If OneNote is in your apps list, skip to Solution 2.
If the OneNote app isn’t in your app list, you can install it from the Windows Store.
Note
OneNote comes in two versions: the OneNote Windows app, which anyone can use, and OneNote 2013, available to anyone with Office 365. If both are installed and you launch OneNote by clicking the pen, it may ask you which version you prefer.

Solution 2: Pair your Surface Pen manually

Your pen might not be paired with your Surface, or you may need to remove the pen from your list of Bluetooth® devices and re-pair it with your Surface.

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)
Step 2: 

Tap or click Change PC settings > PC and devices > Bluetooth and make sure Bluetooth is on.

Step 3: 

If Surface Pen appears in the list of Bluetooth devices, tap or click it and tap or click Remove device.

Step 4: 

Hold down the top button for seven seconds, until the light in the middle of the pen clip starts to flash.

The light appears under the pen clip when Surface Pen is in pairing mode.

If the pen light doesn’t flash after seven seconds and you’ve installed all the latest updates, go to Solution 3.

Step 5: 

When the pen appears in the list of Bluetooth devices, tap or click it and tap or click Pair.

If the pen doesn’t pair, try these steps one more time. If it still doesn’t pair, contact us.

Solution 3: Change the coin cell batteries

Note
Change the coin cell batteries only if the pen light doesn’t come on when you hold the top button down for seven seconds.

To change the coin cell batteries, you’ll need two new size 319 coin cell batteries and a jewellers’ Phillips screwdriver. Here’s how to change the coin cell batteries:

Step 1: 

Unscrew the top of the pen from the bottom, leaving the paper label in the top in place.

Step 2: 

Do one of the following to remove the battery case:

  • Recommended method: Insert a jeweller’s Phillips screwdriver into the battery case, through the middle of the spring, and unscrew the battery case.
  • Alternative method: Insert a flathead screwdriver into one of the notches on the side of the battery case and twist the battery case to unscrew it. You’ll need to press on the spring to fit the blade of the screwdriver into the larger notches on the battery case.
How to change the coin cell batteries in the Surface Pen
Step 3: Remove the battery case and remove the old batteries. Insert the new batteries into the battery case with the negative (–) side facing the pen tip.
Step 4: 

Slide the top of the pen down over the battery case. Tighten the case just until you feel resistance. Don't overtighten it.

Note
If you hold the pen top sideways and slide the battery case in, the coin cell batteries may flip over before they’re secure and in their proper position.
Step 5: Screw the bottom and top of the pen back together.

You may need to pair the pen with your Surface again after you change the batteries.

If the light in the clip still doesn’t come on when you hold down the top button for seven seconds or if OneNote still doesn’t open when you click the top button, contact us.

Pen shows as not connected in the Bluetooth list

If your Surface Pen doesn’t show as Paired in your list of Bluetooth devices, first make sure you have the latest updates installed. See Install Surface and Windows updates above, for how-to info.

If your pen still doesn’t show as Paired after you’ve installed the latest updates, follow the steps in Pair your Surface Pen manually, above, to remove the pen from your Bluetooth list and pair it again.

If your pen still shows as Not connected after you pair it again, contact us.

Double-clicking the top button doesn’t take a screenshot

If a single click of the top button opens OneNote but a double-click doesn’t take a screenshot, you may need to install updates for Windows and OneNote. Here’s how:

Step 1: 

Click the top button of the pen once.

Step 2: 

Make sure you have the latest updates.
See Install Surface and Windows updates, above, for how-to info.

Step 3: 

On the Start screen, tap or click Store.

Step 4: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down and click Settings.)
Step 5: 

Tap or click App updates > Check for updates.

  • If OneNote appears in the list of available updates, tap or click it and tap or click Install.
  • If OneNote doesn’t appear in the list of available updates and double-clicking the top button of the pen doesn’t take a screenshot, contact us.

Pen isn’t pressure sensitive in some apps

Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 support different kinds of pen pressure.

Built-in pressure detection: Windows Store apps and many other apps work with the pressure detection that’s built into Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3. For apps like OneNote, Adobe Photoshop CC 2014, and Manga Studio, you already have the drivers you need for pressure sensitivity. To adjust pressure sensitivity, use the Surface app.

Wintab pressure sensitivity (Surface Pro 3): Other apps, like Corel Draw and earlier versions of Photoshop, use a Wintab driver to detect pressure. If you have a Surface Pro 3 and want to use pressure sensitivity with these apps, install the Wintab driver for Surface Pro 3.

Important
Install the Wintab driver only if you need pressure-sensitivity for Wintab-based apps on Surface Pro 3.

To install the Wintab driver for Surface Pro 3:

Step 1: Open your browser and go to the Surface software, firmware and drivers page on the Microsoft Download Centre.
Step 2: Select Download.
Step 3: Scroll to the bottom of the list, select the checkbox for the .zip file that starts with Wintab, and select Next.
Step 4: Select Open.
Step 5: Extract files from the .zip file, double-click to run the file WinTab_Setup_x64.exe, and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.

Pen tip needs replacing

If your pen tip wears out, is lost, or breaks, you can order new pen tips for Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 from the Online Service Center.

Note
Your pen must be registered, and you will need to sign in with your Microsoft account.

Other problems?

If these solutions didn’t solve the problem you’re having with Surface Pen, contact us.


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