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Woman sitting outside on a staircase and taking notes on her Surface device beside a guitarist

April 30, 2024

How to use a laptop in a bright environment

Working outdoors or in brightly lit areas can be challenging when you're trying to see your laptop screen. Whether you're enjoying the sunshine or stuck in a well-lit room, screen glare can significantly affect your productivity and cause eye strain. However, with the right strategies and accessories,¹ you can improve your laptop's visibility and make working in these conditions more comfortable. Learn how to optimize your sunlight exposure on laptops and 2-in-1 Surface devices that use Windows 11.

Optimize screen brightness and display settings

A man working on his Surface device in a park

Credit: Designer in Copilot

The first step in combating screen glare is to adjust your laptop's brightness and display settings. Surface laptops and other Windows 11 devices offer adaptive brightness features, which automatically adjust the screen brightness based on your environment. However, in bright sunlight, you may need to manually set your brightness to the maximum level to see your screen more clearly. To adjust the brightness manually, select the Network icon on the right side of the taskbar, and then move the Brightness slider to adjust the brightness.

Enable high-contrast themes

Windows 11 provides high-contrast themes that make text and icons stand out against the background to enhance visibility in bright conditions. To activate a high-contrast theme, navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Contrast themes. Select a theme that improves visibility for your specific outdoor environment.

Adjust text size and scaling

Increasing text size and scaling can make it easier to read content on your screen when you're outside. In Windows 11, go to Settings > System > Display, and under the "Scale & layout" section, adjust the size of text, apps, and other items to suit your needs.

Laptop sunshades

A laptop sunshade is an essential accessory for anyone working in sunlight. These shades attach to your laptop's screen and create a shadow that helps reduce glare and improve screen visibility. Laptop sunshades are portable and easy to install, making them an ideal solution for outdoor workers or those frequently on the move.

Anti-glare screen protectors

Anti-glare screen protectors can significantly reduce the reflection and glare from sunlight and artificial light. These thin films are easy to apply to your laptop screen and can help minimize eye strain by providing a matte finish that diffuses light.

Choose the right environment

When possible, position yourself in a way that reduces direct sunlight on your screen. Finding a shaded area or adjusting your seating to have the sun behind you can make a considerable difference in screen visibility. Additionally, using a laptop in sunlight can cause it to overheat, so staying in the shade can also help keep your device cool.

Working on a laptop in bright environments requires a bit of preparation and adjustment, but it's entirely feasible with the right techniques and accessories. By optimizing your screen brightness and display settings, utilizing laptop sun shades or anti-glare screen protectors, and choosing your working environment wisely, you can significantly improve your laptop's visibility in sunlight. In addition to being equipped to handle brightness, devices like Surface Pro 9 have sufficient battery, a 13” PixelSense™ display, and multitasking capabilities, that allow you to stay productive outside with up to 15.5 hours of battery life per full charge.²

These strategies not only enhance your productivity but also protect your eyes from strain, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of working outdoors or in brightly lit areas with your Surface laptop or any Windows 11 device. For more devices equipped to handle bright environments, choose from an exceptional array of devices available on Microsoft Surface.

  • [1] Chargers, software, accessories, and devices sold separately. Availability may vary by market.
  • [2] Battery life varies significantly based on device configuration, usage, network and feature configuration, signal strength, settings, and other factors. Learn more about Surface battery performance for details.

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