How To Customize the Surface 2 Start Screen

The Microsoft Surface 2 has two faces. One is the Metro or Modern UI screen filled with the colorful tiles. The others is the Desktop where Apps from the Microsoft Office 2013 suite run. With the release of the Surface 2 Microsoft has made going back and forth between these two worlds a little easier and not quite so clunky. In addition, Microsoft has made it easier in Windows 8.1 for you to see what you want when you log in or boot up your Surface 2. Given that Microsoft wants you to think of the Start Screen as home base, note that to effect most of these changes you have to go through Control Panel on the Desktop side of things. Here’s how to customize the Surface 2 Start screen, how to do some personalization on the Surface RT and the different views you can set up.

Personalize the Start Screen

When you first boot up a Surface RT you’re greeted with the Start Screen with Apps displayed in the Tile interface. If you want to change colors of the screen or the background swipe right to get to the Charms Menu. Then choose Personalize. Here you will see a selection of backgrounds with options to change the background colors and the highlight colors.

Start Screen Personalization

Start Screen Personalization

For the Start Screen you are limited to the wallpaper backgrounds displayed here. Once you choose a background wallpaper the color choices will change the look of that background.

Make Wallpapers the Same Between Desktop and Start Screens

If you want a different wallpaper than those offered in the Personalize menu for the Start Screen, or you want to have your Desktop and Start Screen have the same wallpaper here’s how.

First choose a Desktop wallpaper you like. If the Desktop Tile is not on your Start Screen you can get there in a couple of ways.

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  1. You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to get to the All Apps screen and find the Desktop Tile there.
  2. You can swipe in from the right to access the Charms Menu, Choose Search, and enter Desktop.

Once you reach the Desktop, Right Click or do a Press and Hold on the Screen. A context sensitive menu will pop up at the bottom of which will be Personalization. Choose Personalization.

Here Windows users will see the familiar Control Panel view to change themes, wallpapers and colors.

Change Backgrounds and Themes on the Desktop

Change Backgrounds and Themes on the Desktop

At the bottom of the Screen, select Desktop Background.

Here you can then select the location of the picture you wish for your Background. Your choices are: Windows Desktop Backgrounds, Pictures Library, Top Rated Photos, Solid Colors, and Desktop Background, and Camera Roll.

Choose the location for the content you want to display

Choose the location for the content you want to display

Take a tour and make your selection, then choose to Save Changes.

Next, you are already in the Control Panel. In the lower left corner locate and select Taskbar and Navigation. When the TaskBar and Navigation Properties screen opens choose the Navigation Tab.

Navigation Tab Options

Navigation Tab Options

In the lower section of this window you will see Start Screen with a number of options available. Choose the second option: Show my desktop background on Start.

Start Screen with Desktop Background

Start Screen with Desktop Background

You are all set and your Desktop and Start Screen now have the same background.

Boot to the All Apps Screen

One of the changes Microsoft made in Windows 8.1 is to give you some options for what screen you boot into. One of those options is the Boot to the All Apps Screen. Follow the above procedures to get to the Control Panel/Taskbar and Navigation Properties and choose the Navigation tab.

Boot to the All Apps Screen

Boot to the All Apps Screen

The fourth option given is “Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start.” Select this option and you will be in the All Apps view when you select Start or reboot your Surface.

The All Apps Screen

The All Apps Screen

Boot to the Desktop

And if you want to boot into the Desktop Environment instead of the Start Screen from the same Navigation tab you can select the first option, “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop, instead of Start.”

Boot to the Desktop

Boot to the Desktop

This option doesn’t seem as logical on a Surface 2 as it might on a Surface Pro 2 or other Windows 8.1 computer. The only Apps, beyond some system utilities, that you can use or install on the Desktop on the Surface 2 are Office 13 Apps, which you can easily add to your Start Screen. In fact Tiles for those Apps are prominently displayed on the Start screen when you first book up a Surface 2.

Read: Microsoft Surface 2 Review: Less Confusing and More Viable

Creating Groups on the Start Screen

Microsoft has also made it easier to arrange Tiles on the Start screen into groups and to name those groups. From the Start screen swipe up with one finger and you’ll bring up a bar with a Customize icon in the lower right corner of the screen.

Name Groups on the Start Screen

Name Groups on the Start Screen

Select that icon and you will see that you can now name groups of Tiles displayed on your screen. Name away until your heart’s content.

 

 

  

Comments

  1. tallie says

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  2. Lynda says

    Just gave hubby surface 2 and I need some help!! Can someone tell me how we get the internet explorer e on your tool bar with your excel and others? It is set as default but can not move to start page? Can anyone help?

  3. Ryan says

    Quick question. For the customer wallpaper for the start screen, I followed your instructions and it worked fine. However, when I had the surface 2 locked for awhile, it when to a solid color background. How do I stop this without doing everything over again?

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