Get started with Surface RT or Surface 2

Ultra-thin and light, Surface RT and Surface 2 are on-the-go tablets.

Applies to

Surface RT, Surface 2.

There's much to explore with Surface RT and Surface 2. Once you’ve set up your Surface (choosing your default Windows settings, creating an account, and so on), here are some basics to help you get started:

Surface RT
Surface RT
Surface 2
Surface 2

Touch, keyboard, mouse and pen

You can easily switch between touch, keyboard, mouse and pen.

  • Touch. You can interact with your Surface using touch. For example, drag your finger across the screen to scroll. For info on using touch, see Touch: Tap, swipe, and beyond.
  • Keyboard. You have several options for using a keyboard with your Surface. You can use any of the Surface Covers designed especially for Surface. You can also use a full-size USB or Bluetooth® keyboard. (Keyboards and Covers are sold separately.)
  • Mouse. You can use the touchpad on the keyboard covers, or connect a USB or Bluetooth mouse.
  • Pen. Take notes, draw and mark up documents using a capacitive pen (sold separately). A capacitive pen is one that substitutes for your finger on a touchscreen.

Getting around

Start is your home base, and you can customise it the way you want it. Each tile on Start is connected to a contact, app, website, playlist, and other things you care about. Select a tile to open it.

No matter where you are in Windows, you can always come back to Start Here’s how:

  • Touch. Press the Windows logo button on your Surface, or swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Start.
  • Keyboard. Press the Windows logo Windows logo key key.
  • Mouse or touchpad. Move the pointer into the bottom-left corner. When Start appears, click in the corner.

To find out how to add tiles, rearrange them, and resize them, see Personalise the Start screen.

Swipe in from the edge

When you swipe in from the different edges of the screen different things happen.

Right edge: Charms
Swipe in from the right edge of the screen to see the charms. They’re always available—just swipe in to see them.
Charms help you do things like search, share, print, and change settings. What you can do with the charms changes depending on if you're on the Start screen or using an app, so start exploring.
Learn more about the charms.

Swipe in from the right

Top or bottom edge: App commands
Swipe up from the bottom or down from the top edge of the screen to see commands related to where you are and what you’re doing.
For example, if you’re in an app you’ll see commands for that app.

Swipe up from the bottom

Left edge: Switch apps
Swipe in from the left edge of the screen to switch between open apps. For more info, see Switch between open apps.

Swipe in from the left

All about apps

Surface RT and Surface 2 come with many built-in apps—you'll see tiles for them on Start after you sign in to your Surface. Here are some of the apps:

  • OneDrive tile


    Store your files in the cloud and access them from anywhere.
  • Mail tile


    Get email from your accounts—including Yahoo! and Outlook—all in one place.
  • Calendar tile


    Bring your calendars together in one place.
  • People tile


    Stay connected and start conversations with contacts from your email accounts, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  • Photos tile


    See and share your photos and home videos in one place.
  • Camera tile


    Take photos, panoramas, or shoot video using either camera on your Surface.
  • Music tile


    Explore, download and listen to the latest songs and share your playlists.
  • Video tile


    Watch movies and TV shows as well as your videos.
  • Games tile


    Find and install a variety of games by using the built-in Xbox Games app.
  • Skype tile


    Use Skype to call or IM friends and family.

  • Store Tile

    There are lots more apps in the Windows Store. To see what’s in the Store, select the Store tile in Start or on the taskbar. For more info, see All about apps. Some apps might not be available in your country or region.

For info on how to install apps, see Install and uninstall apps on Surface. Also, be sure to see these topics: Start, find and close apps on Surface and Use more than one app at a time.

On, standby, off, restart

To turn your Surface on or off, restart it, or put it into standby mode, do the following:

On or wake
Press and release the power button. If nothing happens, connect the power supply and press the power button again.
Close the Cover, or press and release the power button. If you don’t use your Surface for a few minutes, it will automatically go into standby mode.
Open the Settings charm, and select Power > Shut down (there’s also a Power icon in the bottom-right corner of the sign-in screen and at the top of Start).
Open the Settings charm, and select Power > Restart.

Make it yours

  • Add your stuff. You can easily copy or move music, pictures, videos, and documents to your Surface. For info on how to do this, see Move files to your Surface.
  • Access network files and devices. You can access files and printers that are part of your home network. For info about this, see Share files and folders.
  • Customise Start. Start can reflect who you are and what you care about. For info about this, see See what’s on the menu.
  • Choose colours and pictures. For info on changing your background, colours and account picture see Personalise your PC.
  • Create multiple accounts. You can share your Surface, with each person having their own account. This way each person can personalise Windows as he or she likes and your files and settings stay private. For info about this, see Create a user account.
  • Use parental controls. Family Safety is an integrated part of Windows, so it's easier than ever to keep track of when and how your kids use your Surface. For info about this, see Set up Family Safety.

Connect a printer, a mouse, speakers, or a second screen

Surface RT and Surface 2 are compatible with devices that are compatible with Windows RT 8.1. To check the compatibility of the device you'd like to use with your Surface, see the Windows Compatibility Centre.

Go online and browse the web

  • Internet Explorer tile

    Whether you're working, playing games, listening to music, or catching up with friends, you'll want to be online and connected.

    If you are using mobile broadband, check to make sure the SIM card is inserted. See Set up your Surface 2 (4G) for details. If you do not have an active data plan for the SIM card, you may be prompted to activate an account with the mobile operator when you try to connect.

Here’s how to get online:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and select Settings.
Step 2:  Select wireless network Wireless network icon.
Step 3:  Under Wi-Fi or Mobile broadband, select your network, and select Connect.
(Mobile broadband is available on some Surface 2 models. For more info, see Surface features.)
Step 4: 

Now browse the web by doing either of the following:

  • From the Start screen, tap or click Internet Explorer.
  • From the Start screen, swipe up from the middle of the screen to see the Apps view, tap or click Desktop, then tap or click the Internet Explorer icon on the taskbar (this starts Internet Explorer for the desktop).

For more info, see Browse the web with Internet Explorer.

Download the User Guide

Want to learn more? Download the User Guide for your Surface.

Once downloaded, you can open or print the guide using the built-in Reader app.

Help + Tips app

From Start, open the Help + Tips app to learn more about Windows.