Applies to

Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro.

Applies to

Surface 2, Surface RT.

Applies to

Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro.

Applies to

Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface 2, Surface Pro, Surface RT.

Operating system:

Using the desktop

In Windows 10, the desktop is your home base. Set up your desktop to use the features you like where you want them.


By default, Windows 10 starts in the desktop. From here, you can use all kinds of apps and programs, from specialized software to any of the apps from the Windows Store. You can pin your favorite apps and programs to your taskbar so you can get to them quickly, and you can personalize the desktop with different shortcuts, backgrounds, colors, and themes.

No matter how you want to use your Surface, you can switch quickly between apps, windows, and the Start menu right from the desktop.

Apps on the taskbar

The taskbar is where you can switch between open apps. You can also pin apps you use often to the taskbar so you can open them right from the desktop.

Taskbar with Microsoft Edge and Windows Store apps

Pinning apps to your taskbar

Whether you're using touch or a mouse, you can pin any app to your taskbar so it's easy to open when you're in the desktop.

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and select > All apps.
Click All Apps to view apps
Step 2: Press and hold (or right-click) the app you want to pin.
Right-click the app
Step 3: Select Pin to taskbar.
Pin selected apps

Pinning apps you have open

If you're already using an app, you can pin it to the taskbar without going to Start.

Step 1: Press and hold (or right-click) the app's taskbar button.
Press and hold an icon in the taskbar
Step 2: Select Pin this program to taskbar. The app you pinned will stay on your taskbar even after you close the app.
Pin this program to the taskbar

Close or minimize an app

You can close an app with a mouse by moving the pointer to the top of the app and clicking the Close Close button button in the upper-right corner. The Minimize button is next to Close Close icon on the title bar.

Mouse to top of app to see Close and Minimize buttons

You can also minimize or close an app by right-clicking the app name in the upper-left corner of the title bar.

Right-click app name in upper left corner for more options

Customizing the desktop

You can customize your desktop with shortcuts to apps and files you use often, as well as colors and images that reflect your personality. Choose from free themes in the Personalization Gallery to bring images, colors, and sound schemes to your desktop, all in one beautiful package. For more info about personalizing your desktop, see Get started with themes.

Open a new desktop

You can use Task view to create new virtual desktops on your Surface, group your apps on different desktops, and drag and drop apps from one desktop to another. Here’s how to create a new virtual desktop using Task view:

Step 1: Swipe in from the left edge of the screen or select Task view Task view icon.
Step 2: Select New desktop.

To learn more about task view and virtual desktops, see Group apps into desktops.

Enter tablet mode when you sign in

By default, your Surface goes to the desktop when you sign in. If you prefer, you can choose to enter tablet mode instead. Here’s how:

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and select > Settings > System > Tablet mode.
Step 2: Under When I sign in, select the arrow and select Automatically switch to tablet mode.

More options from the Start button

In the lower-left corner of the desktop you'll see the Start button Start button. You can select it to open the Start menu, or you can press and hold (or right-click) it to see a menu of quick and advanced options—you can do things like shut down or sign out, get to Control Panel and Task Manager, and open a command prompt window.

The Start button Start button is always available, so you can get to these menu options from anywhere.

More options from the Start button in the lower left corner.

Using the desktop

Windows 8.1 RT Update 3 brings the desktop experience to Surface RT and Surface 2. Set up your desktop to use the features you like where you want them.


By default, Windows 8.1 RT Update 3 starts in the desktop. From here, you can use all kinds of apps and programs—from specialized software to any of the apps from the Windows Store. You can pin your favorite apps and programs to your taskbar so you can get to them quickly, and you can personalize the desktop with different shortcuts, backgrounds, colors, and themes.

No matter how you want to use your Surface, you can switch quickly between apps, windows, and the Start menu right from the desktop.

Getting to the desktop

There are a few ways to get to the desktop from anywhere on your Surface. You can do any of the following:

  • Press Windows logo key Windows logo key + D on your keyboard.
  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and select Search.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and select Search.). Enter desktop in the search box, and select Desktop in the results.
  • If you’re using a mouse, move the mouse pointer to the lower-left corner of the screen, select Start Windows logo > All Apps > Desktop.
  • Swipe in from the left edge of the screen to cycle through your open apps until the desktop appears.

Apps on the taskbar

The taskbar is where you can switch between open apps. You can also pin apps you use often so you can open them right from the desktop.

Taskbar with desktop and Windows Store apps

You can typically find the taskbar at the bottom of the desktop, but you can get to it from anywhere on your PC by moving your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen.

If you don't see all your open apps on the taskbar

If open Store apps don’t appear on your taskbar, see How to use the taskbar to learn how to see them on the taskbar.

Pinning apps to your taskbar

Whether you're using touch or a mouse, you can pin any app to your taskbar so it's easy to open when you're in the desktop.

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo > All Apps.
Click All Apps to view apps
Step 2: Press and hold (or right-click) the app you want to pin.
Right-click the app
Step 3: Select Pin to Taskbar.
Pin selected apps

Pinning apps you have open

If you're already using an app, you can pin it to the taskbar without going to Start.

Step 1: Press and hold (or right-click) the app's taskbar button.
Press, hold, and slide an icon in the taskbar.
Step 2: Select Pin this program to taskbar. The app you pinned will stay on your taskbar even after you close the app.
Select “Pin this program to taskbar.”

Switching between apps on the taskbar

When you're using an app, you can bring up the taskbar to quickly switch back to a different app or to go back to Start.

To see the taskbar when you're using an app that takes up the whole screen, move your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen. Then, select the Start button Start button to go back to Start, or click another app button to switch to a different app.

Close, minimize or split an app

You can close an app with a mouse by moving the pointer to the top of the app and clicking the Close Close button button in the upper-right corner.

Mouse to top of app to see Close and Minimize buttons

If you have the setting to see Windows apps on the taskbar turned on, you’ll see the Minimize button on the title bar as well, next to Close Close button. See How to use the taskbar to learn about this setting.

You can also minimize, close, or split an app to the left or right side of the screen by right-clicking the app icon in the upper-left corner of the title bar.

Right-click icon in upper left corner for more options.

Customizing the desktop

You can customize your desktop with shortcuts to apps and files you use often, as well as colors and images that reflect your personality. Choose from free themes in the Personalization Gallery to bring images, colors, and sound schemes to your desktop, all in one beautiful package. For more info about personalizing your desktop, see Get started with themes.

More options from the Start button

In the lower-left corner of the desktop you'll see the Start button Start button. You can select it to open the Start menu, or you can press and hold (or right-click) it to see a menu of quick and advanced options—you can do things like shut down or sign out, get to Control Panel and Task Manager, or open a command prompt window.

The Start button Start button is always available, so you can get to these menu options from anywhere. If you don't see it, move your cursor to the lower-left corner, and the Start button will appear.

More options from the Start button in the lower left corner.

Using the desktop

Desktop, Start screen, or a little of both? Set up your Surface to use the features you like where you want them.


In the desktop, you can use all kinds of apps and programs—from specialized software to any of the apps from the Windows Store. You can pin your favorite apps and programs to your taskbar so you can get to them quickly, and you can personalize the desktop with different shortcuts, backgrounds, colors, and themes.

No matter how you want to use your Surface, you can switch quickly between apps, windows, and Start screen right from the desktop.

Getting to the desktop

There are a few ways to get to the desktop from anywhere on your Surface. You can do any of the following:

  • From the Start screen, tap or click Desktop. If you don’t see the Desktop tile on the Start screen, swipe up from the middle of the screen to get to Apps view, and then tap or click Desktop.
  • Press Windows logo key Windows logo key + D on your keyboard.
  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.). Enter desktop in the search box, and then tap or click Desktop in the results.

Apps on the taskbar

The taskbar is where you can switch between apps you have open and can pin apps you use often so you can open them right from the desktop.

Taskbar with desktop and Windows Store apps

You can typically find the taskbar at the bottom of the desktop, but you can get to it from anywhere on your PC by moving your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen.

If you don't see all your open apps on the taskbar

If your open Windows Store apps don’t appear on your taskbar, see How to use the taskbar to learn how to see Windows Store apps on the taskbar.

Pinning apps to your taskbar

Whether you're using touch or a mouse, you can pin any app to your taskbar so it's easy to open when you're in the desktop.

Step 1: On the Start screen, slide up from the middle of the screen to see the Apps view.
(If you’re using a mouse, click the arrow Down arrownear the lower-left corner of the screen.)
Click arrow to see apps
Step 2: Press and hold or right-click to select the app you want to pin.
(To select multiple apps with a mouse and Typing Cover or keyboard, press and hold Ctrl and then right-click each of the apps you want to pin.)
Select tiles
Step 3: Tap or click Pin to taskbar.
Pin selected apps

Pinning apps you have open

If you're already using an app, you can pin it to the taskbar without going to the Start screen.

Step 1: Press and hold the app's taskbar button and slide your finger up until a menu appears.
(If you're using a mouse, right-click the app button on the taskbar.)
Press, hold, and slide an icon in the taskbar.
Step 2: Tap or click Pin this program to taskbar. The app you pinned will stay on your taskbar even after you close the app.
Select “Pin this program to taskbar.”

Switching between apps on the taskbar

When you're using an app, you can bring up the taskbar to quickly switch back to a different app or to go back to Start.

To see the taskbar when you're using an app that takes up the whole screen, move your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen. Then, click the Start button Start button to go back to Start, or click another app button to switch to a different app.

Close, minimize or split an app

You can close an app with a mouse by moving the cursor to the top of the app and clicking the Close Close button button in the upper-right corner.

Mouse to top of app to see Close and Minimize buttons

If you have the setting to see Windows apps on the taskbar turned on, you’ll see the Minimize button on the taskbar, too, next to the Close button Close button. See How to use the taskbar to learn about this setting.

You can also minimize, close, or split an app to the left or right side of the screen by right-clicking the app icon in the upper-left corner of the title bar.

Right-click icon in upper left corner for more options.

Customizing the desktop

You can customize your desktop with shortcuts to apps and files you use often and colors and images that reflect your personality. Choose from free themes in the Personalization Gallery to bring images, colors, and sound schemes to your desktop all in one beautiful package. For more info about personalizing the desktop, see Get started with themes.

Go to the desktop when you sign in

By default your Surface goes to the Start screen when you sign in. You can choose to instead go to the desktop, or to show the Apps view if you prefer. Here’s how:

Step 1: At the Start screen, tap or click the Search button Search buttonnext to your account picture, and in the search box, enter taskbar, tap or click Taskbar and Navigation in the search results.
Step 2: Tap or click the Navigation tab.
Step 3: Tap or click the When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start check box, and tap or click OK.
Tip
To instead show Apps view when you sign in, tap or click Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start check box, and then tap or click OK.
(Any of the other commands that typically take you to Start will now take you to the Apps view too.)

More options from the Start button

In the lower-left corner of the desktop you'll see the Start button Start button. You can tap or click the it to get to the Start screen, or you can press and hold or right-click it to see a menu of quick and advanced options—you can do things like shut down and sign out, get to Control Panel and Task Manager, or open a Command Prompt window.

The Start button Start button is always available, so you can get to these menu options from anywhere—the desktop, an app, or even the Start screen or Apps view. If you don't see it, move your mouse to the lower-left corner, and the Start button will appear.

More options from the Start button in the lower left corner.

Using the desktop

Desktop, Start screen, or a little of both? Set up your Surface to use the features you like where you want them.


In the desktop, you can use all kinds of apps and programs—from specialized software to any of the apps from the Windows Store. You can pin your favorite apps and programs to your taskbar so you can get to them quickly, and you can personalize the desktop with different shortcuts, backgrounds, colors, and themes.

No matter how you want to use your Surface, you can switch quickly between apps, windows, and Start screen right from the desktop.

Getting to the desktop

There are a few ways to get to the desktop from anywhere on your Surface. You can do any of the following:

  • From the Start screen, tap or click Desktop. If you don’t see the Desktop tile on the Start screen, swipe up from the middle of the screen to get to Apps view, and then tap or click Desktop.
  • Press Windows logo key Windows logo key + D on your keyboard.
  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.). Enter desktop in the search box, and then tap or click Desktop in the results.

Apps on the taskbar

The taskbar is where you can switch between apps you have open and can pin apps you use often so you can open them right from the desktop.

Taskbar with desktop and Windows Store apps

You can typically find the taskbar at the bottom of the desktop, but you can get to it from anywhere on your PC by moving your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen.

If you don't see all your open apps on the taskbar

If your open Windows Store apps don’t appear on your taskbar, see How to use the taskbar to learn how to see Windows Store apps on the taskbar.

Pinning apps to your taskbar

Whether you're using touch or a mouse, you can pin any app to your taskbar so it's easy to open when you're in the desktop.

Step 1: On the Start screen, slide up from the middle of the screen to see the Apps view.
(If you’re using a mouse, click the arrow Down arrow near the lower-left corner of the screen.)
Click arrow to see apps
Step 2: Press and hold or right-click to select the app you want to pin.
(To select multiple apps with a mouse and Typing Cover or keyboard, press and hold Ctrl and then right-click each of the apps you want to pin.)
Select tiles
Step 3: Tap or click Pin to taskbar.
Pin selected apps

Pinning apps you have open

If you're already using an app, you can pin it to the taskbar without going to the Start screen.

Step 1: Press and hold the app's taskbar button and slide your finger up until a menu appears.
(If you're using a mouse, right-click the app button on the taskbar.)
Press, hold, and slide an icon in the taskbar.
Step 2: Tap or click Pin this program to taskbar. The app you pinned will stay on your taskbar even after you close the app.
Select “Pin this program to taskbar.”

Switching between apps on the taskbar

When you're using an app, you can bring up the taskbar to quickly switch back to a different app or to go back to Start.

To see the taskbar when you're using an app that takes up the whole screen, move your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen. Then, click the Start button Start button to go back to Start, or click another app button to switch to a different app.

Close, minimize or split an app

You can close an app with a mouse by moving the cursor to the top of the app and clicking the Close Close button button in the upper-right corner.

Mouse to top of app to see Close and Minimize buttons

If you have the setting to see Windows apps on the taskbar turned on, you’ll see the Minimize button on the taskbar, too, next to the Close button Close button. See How to use the taskbar to learn about this setting.

You can also minimize, close, or split an app to the left or right side of the screen by right-clicking the app icon in the upper-left corner of the title bar.

Right-click icon in upper left corner for more options.

Customizing the desktop

You can customize your desktop with shortcuts to apps and files you use often and colors and images that reflect your personality. Choose from free themes in the Personalization Gallery to bring images, colors, and sound schemes to your desktop all in one beautiful package. For more info about personalizing the desktop, see Get started with themes.

Go to the desktop when you sign in

By default your Surface goes to the Start screen when you sign in. You can choose to instead go to the desktop, or to show the Apps view if you prefer. Here’s how:

Step 1: At the Start screen, tap or click the Search button Search buttonnext to your account picture, and in the search box, enter taskbar, tap or click Taskbar and Navigation in the search results.
Step 2: Tap or click the Navigation tab.
Step 3: Tap or click the When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start check box, and tap or click OK.
Tip
To instead show Apps view when you sign in, tap or click Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start check box, and then tap or click OK.
(Any of the other commands that typically take you to Start will now take you to the Apps view too.)

More options from the Start button

In the lower-left corner of the desktop you'll see the Start button Start button. You can tap or click the it to get to the Start screen, or you can press and hold or right-click it to see a menu of quick and advanced options—you can do things like shut down and sign out, get to Control Panel and Task Manager, or open a Command Prompt window.

The Start button Start button is always available, so you can get to these menu options from anywhere—the desktop, an app, or even the Start screen or Apps view. If you don't see it, move your mouse to the lower-left corner, and the Start button will appear.

More options from the Start button in the lower left corner.

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