12 tips for using Surface and Windows

Here are some tips on how to do things on your Surface with Windows that you might have done a different way on your Mac.

Applies to

Surface Book, Surface Book with Performance Base, Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface 2, Surface Pro.


1. Find and open your apps and programs

On a Mac, apps are typically in the Applications folder, but in Windows, you’ll find all your apps and programs on Start. Or, just type the app name in the search box on the taskbar.

To quickly open your apps, pin them to the taskbar (it’s like having apps on the Dock on your Mac). If you already have the app open on your Surface, press and hold (or right-click) the app icon on the taskbar and select Pin to taskbar. Or, select Start Windows logo in the lower-left corner, find the app you want to pin in the list, and select More > Pin to taskbar.

See what’s on the Start menu

2. Get new apps, games, and more

On a Mac, there’s the Mac App Store and on your Surface, there’s the Windows Store. To open the Store, type Store in the search box on the taskbar.

Explore the Store

3. Video calls and messaging

Message and video chat with family and friends on your Surface with Skype. Millions of people use Skype every day, so your friends and family may already have accounts. Skype works on Windows, iPhone, Mac, Android, Xbox One, and more.

Learn more at Skype.com

4. Help keep your Surface safer

Surface comes with Windows Defender and Windows Firewall to help protect you from malware, so you don't need to purchase antivirus software. Windows Defender uses real-time protection to scan everything you download or run on your PC. See how these services help protect your Surface.

Get safety tips at the Microsoft Safety & Security Center

5. Draw with Surface Pen

Surface Pen was made for Surface. Here are some examples of things you can do:

  • Mark up docs in PowerPoint, Word, or other Office apps—select the Review tab, then select Start inking on the right.
  • Use your finger or the Surface Pen to draw or edit photos in the Fresh Paint app.
  • If you use Adobe apps, draw directly on the screen without an external pen tablet, or open Lightroom in tablet mode to edit a photo with touch easily— these and other features are exclusive to Windows 10.

Get more tips and help for Surface Pen

6. Save time with shortcuts

On a Mac, pressing the command key with the letters C, V, or P copies, pastes, and prints, respectively. On Windows, swap out the command key with Ctrl to do the same things.

Here are some other top Windows keyboard shortcuts:

Press these keys
To do this
Ctrl + C
Copy the selected item
Ctrl + X
Cut the selected item
Ctrl + V
Paste the selected item
Ctrl + Z
Undo an action
Ctrl + P
Print the open item
Alt + Tab
Switch between open apps (except desktop apps)
Alt + F4
Close the active item, or exit the active app
Windows logo key Windows logo + L
Lock your PC or switch users
Windows logo key Windows logo + D
Display and hide the desktop

7. Search for anything on your Surface and online

In Windows 10, use the search box on the taskbar to find what you need. Type your search terms, an app name, or a file or folder name to search your PC and the web at the same time.

Search for anything, anywhere

8. Put Surface to sleep or shut it down

Put Surface to sleep by closing it or by tapping the power button on the device.

To turn off Surface, press and hold the power button on top of the device for a few seconds.

You can also select the Start Windows logo button in the lower-left corner of the screen, select Power at the bottom of the menu, and then choose Shut down.

Learn more about Surface power states

9. Tweak your settings

In the search box on the taskbar, type Settings.

Or, select the Start Windows logo button, then select Settings.

Learn more about setting things up

10. Downloaded files

The things you download on your Surface go into the Downloads folder, just like on your Mac. You can find your downloaded files in the Downloads folder in File Explorer, or just type downloads in the search box on the taskbar.

To save a download in a specific folder, select Save As during the download process and then browse to the folder you want.

See what’s new in File Explorer

11. Browse the web

Surface comes with the new Microsoft Edge browser. You can write directly on webpages with the Surface Pen, share your notes with others, and use reading mode for easier reading online.

If you were using Chrome or Firefox on your Mac, you can download either browser for Windows, too. But did you know that Microsoft Edge is faster, safer, and saves battery life better than both Chrome and Firefox?

Get more info on the Microsoft Edge site

12. Personalize your Surface

There are so many ways to personalize Surface: change the background of your desktop, your lock screen image, accent colors, and screen saver, and create a pin.

See how to personalize your Surface

Want more tips? Take a look at the Microsoft Tips app on your Surface. To open it, type tips in the search box on the taskbar.


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