9 Common Surface Pro 3 Problems & How to Fix Them

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is still the best 2-in-1 Windows PCs you can purchase. Announced roughly a year ago, it mostly has the body of a tablet. Inside is a robust Intel processor that lets users run any app they want, whether it was purchased from the Window Store or not. There’s enough RAM and storage to satisfy anyone who is considering buying one of the latest high-end ultrabooks. Attach a Surface Pro 3 Type Keyboard and you have a seriously capable notebook held-up by a built-in kickstand.

All of these features don’t necessarily mean that you’re never going to have an issue with the Surface Pro 3. Operating systems change, new apps are added. Things both physical and digital sometimes break. When you run into Surface Pro 3 problems – and you will – here’s some ideas on how to quickly fix them and stay productive. To be clear, the Surface Pro 3 we’re using for this tutorial is running Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system. The Surface Pro 3 will get Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade this coming July.

The Surface Pro 3
The Surface Pro 3

Read: Surface Pro 3 Review

How to Fix Surface Pro 3 Battery Life Problems

The Surface Pro 3 arguably provides better battery life than any Surface Pro that comes before it. That being said, there’s a lot to consider when breaking down battery life. Microsoft maintains that Surface Pro 3 users can expect roughly ten hours of video and productivity. There are things that can hamper that and they aren’t so obvious.

Dim Your Screen

Dimming you display isn’t necessarily one of those non-obvious options. In fact, it’s probably the first thing you think of when you’re trying to eek out a bit more of screen time.

1. Place your finger on the right edge of your display and slide it to the right too reveal the Charms Bar.

2. Then tap Settings.

3. Now tap on Brightness.

4. Move your finger up and down to manually set your display brightness. Remember, your Surface Pro 3 has an ambient light sensor that can automatically adjust your screen’s brightness. You can turn that off by opening the Settings app and selecting PC and Devices. The switch is in the Display area.

Turn off the Backlit on Your Keyboard

To eek out as much battery life as possible, you may want to turn off the back light on your Surface Pro 3 Type Cover if you have one connected.

Press the Fn key and the F1 button on the top of your Surface Pro 3 Type Keyboard.

Close Desktop Apps

The Surface Pro 3 runs a full version of Windows, complete with some of the drawbacks that comes with. The apps that you download from the Windows Store are kept from ruining your battery life. The programs you download through a web browser aren’t, just like with other Windows PCs. If left unchecked the amount of programs you have running in the background can seriously ruin your Surface Pro 3 battery life.

Use the X in the top-right corner of every program you don’t need to cut down on processing power and battery strain.

Also look in the bottom-right corner of your Desktop taskbar to see if there are any programs running in the background that you don’t want on. Right click on each one and select Exit or Close.

Kill Apps at Start Up

Additionally, check to make sure there are no extra programs starting up when your computer first turns on.

1. Press the CTRL, ALT and DEL buttons at the same time and select Task Manager.

2. Now click Start Up for a list of apps that are impacting your system’s start time. Just be sure to only disable the things you don’t need. If you’re no sure what something is, doesn’t necessarily disable It.

How to Fix Surface Pro 3 Wi-Fi Problems

Microsoft’s Surface line does and continues to have some pretty interesting problems with W-Fi connectivity. There are months when connecting to wireless internet networks on the Surface Pro 3 is relatively easy. There are other times, when it’s just not working as well as it should be.

Try Reconnecting to the Wireless Network

For the most part, the only thing that you can do to fix this issue is reconnect to your Wi-Fi network manually or restart your Surface Pro 3.

1. Place your finger on the right edge of the display and slide to the left to reveal the Charms Bar.

2. This time, tap on the Network icon at the bottom of your screen. If you’re near a Wi-Fi network but not connected, you’ll see “Available.”

3. Tap the Wi-Fi network you wish to connect to.

Update Your Surface Pro 3 Firmware

It’s also a very good idea to make sure you have the last Surface Pro 3 firmware and software upgrades if this keeps happening.

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Now select Update and Recovery.

3. Tap on the Check Now button in the center of your screen to see if you have any significant surface updates.

How to Fix Surface Pro 3 Bluetooth Problems

Bluetooth devices can sometimes be tricky. In some ways they work like Wi-Fi networks, letting you connected to stuff easily. If you’re having Bluetooth issues you should definitely check for firmware updates through the Update and Recovery area in the Settings app.

Pair Your Device Again

Sometimes Bluetooth issues are just random. As with Wi-Fi, many Bluetooth Surface Pro 3 problems can be caused by pairing your accessory with your Surface Pro 3 again.

1. Go the Settings app and select the PC and Devices menu.

2. Now select Bluetooth from the list. Turn Bluetooth off using the Switch and then turn it back on. If that doesn’t immediately fix your issue delete your device from the menu and trying pairing the two again.

Microsoft Surface 3 on top of Surface Pro 3 left edge

How to Fix Surface Pro 3 Performance & Overheating Problems

The Surface Pro 3 is big tablet. There’s no way of getting around that. It’s also a very thin notebook. Sometimes that thinness can lead to performance and overheating issues.

Let me be clear, these issues aren’t something you’re going to run into on a normal basis — provided you aren’t play a 3D game or something seriously intensive with your Surface Pro 3 or you’re in an environment that the Surface Pro 3 doesn’t like a lot.

Clear Your Vents

The Surface Pro 3 has a fan. You can hear that fan when you do something serious on the machine. If your Surface Pro 3 is overheating it’s probably because the vents on the back of your device aren’t clear. The fan on the Surface Pro 3 sits behind the right top edge of your display. Make sure those vents are clear of dust, lint and debris. Also make sure your case is allowing the Surface Pro 3 to breathe.

Use an External Fan

When you’re playing an intensive game for a long period of time, the Surface Pro 3’s firmware may kick in and slow down your game to protect itself from overheating. Some have had success with pointing cooling fans directly at the area where the fan is. You can try this, but under no circumstances should you try to open the Surface Pro 3. You’ll void your warranty and they aren’t necessarily the cheapest devices to replace if you break something.

Just because you are hearing the fan doesn’t necessarily mean your device is overheating. If your device suddenly shuts down because it’s too hot, then you have an overheating problem.

How to Fix Surface Pro 3 Screen Rotation Problems

Since it’s a tablet, your Surface Pro 3 also has a sensor that lets it determine which way you’re holding it. The idea is to make sure you never have to turn your device in the correct orientation. Sometimes that doesn’t always happen.

Lock or Unlock Screen Rotation

1. You can lock the rotation on your Surface Pro 3 by swiping from the right edge of your screen to the left.

2. Tap the Settings Charm.

3.  Now tap the Display setting and look for the Display icon with two arrows.

4. Tap on that Display icon. Be sure to unlock screen rotation when you’re done.

Restart or Refresh

If your screen isn’t rotating and you haven’t  locked the rotation settings, it’s time to restart your PC. If the problem persists it’s a good idea to try Refreshing your PC or calling Microsoft Support. Please note that refreshing your PC reinstalls Windows. Your Windows Store apps and games will make the transition fine but your Desktop apps won’t.

How to Fix Surface Pro 3 App Problems

On the Surface Pro 3 there are apps and programs. Apps are the things you download form the Windows Store. Programs are typically downloaded through your web browser. If you’re having a problem with a program, you might want to uninstall it or go to the developer’s website to make sure it’s compatible with Windows 8.1. Restarting your Surface Pro 3 doesn’t hurt either.

Close Your App

If you’re having a problem with an app you downloaded from the Windows Store, close the app by placing your mouse cursor in the top right corner of your screen. Now try opening the app again. Swiping down on an app from the top of your screen closes it too.

Restart Your App

Place your finger on the top edge of your display and then slide it download until the app closes. Instead of dragging your finger to the bottom edge, go back to the top edge of your screen.

Uninstall and Reinstall the App
It’s never a better idea to simply uninstall an app and then reinstall it either. Find it’s icon or Live Tile in the list of all apps installed on your Surface Pro 3. You can reach this list by going to the Start Screen and tapping on the arrow along the bottom of your screen.

  • 1. Now place your finger on the icon for each app until a menu item for uninstalling pops up.
  • 2. Download that app from the Window Store

Surface Pro 3 Review (5)

How to Fix Surface Pro 3 Charging Problems

The Surface Pro 3 has its own dedicated charging port. There’s really no way to troubleshoot charging beyond making sure that no part of the power adapter is frayed, that you’re actually plugged into a power source and that your power cable is genuine. If you’re having charging issues make sure there’s nothing plugged into your power cable’s USB adapter and try again. If the problem persists it is time to contact Microsoft Support.

How to Fix Surface Pro 3 Keyboard Issues

The Surface Pro 3 Type Cover is the first accessory you should purchase with your device. Without it, you’ll need to carry around bulky keyboards or stick to the on-screen keyboard.

Sometimes the Surface Pro 3 Type Cover doesn’t respond when you start up your device. If this is happening to you, your best option is to disconnect your Surface Pro 3 keyboard and then reconnect it. If the problem persists, contact Microsoft for a keyboard replacement if it is still under warranty. Before you send off that keyboard, make sure you have the latest software updates and firmware through the Update and Recovery area in the Settings app.

How to Fix Surface Pro 3 Problems if Nothing Works

Only if you have exhausted all of your options should you break out the proverbial hammer and completely reset your Surface Pro 3 PC back to factory settings. You can do so by going into the Update and Recovery area in the Settings app.

Read: How to Reset Your Windows 8.1 Desktop, Notebook or 2-in-1

Again, only use this option if you’ve exhausted all other options.

27 Comments

  1. Paul C.

    06/07/2015 at 4:25 pm

    Two weeks ago, I discovered that my Surface Pro 3 was unable to see my Ethernet connection when I tried to use the unit with the optional docking station.

    Microsoft discovered some missing drivers, but, was unable to download them successfully. I ended up factory defaulting the device and reloading everything. There was nothing special saved in the SP3, so all was good.

    So far so good. I can use Ethernet and WiFi with no problems.

    Reply

  2. Taylor

    06/07/2015 at 10:08 pm

    About 4 months ago I felt like I was getting terrible battery life from my surface. I looked everywhere for a solution and finally stumbled upon the answer: google chrome. For whatever reason, chrome eats battery life on my surface. Google has acknowledged the problem, but isn’t in any hurry to fix it. I switched back over to firefox and have had practically twice the battery life since. Thought people should know.

    Reply

    • winuser

      06/10/2015 at 8:03 am

      ty for the tip taylor :)

      Reply

  3. B. Flood

    06/16/2015 at 11:20 am

    I am have problems with thread-like lines randomly appearing on the screen. Bottom, Top , Middle. No specific time or what I’m doing. This happens if I am moving the screen or just reading. I got it for my birthday in Jan. 2015. this started about March and has not gone away. I took it into Best Buy since we purchased the extra warranty. That was a waste. They told me they could not find anything wrong with the tablet, “must be a software issue.” Told me to contact Microsoft.

    Reply

    • Steven Donaldson

      08/10/2015 at 8:36 am

      I have recently starting see the same issue. I am running Windows 10 and it did not solve the problem. Let me know if you resolve the issue

      Reply

  4. Fman

    07/22/2015 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks for all the great tips Mr. Obvious!

    Reply

  5. Bradley

    09/03/2015 at 9:06 pm

    I have this issue when I’m writing with the pen in OneNote – where my wrist sitting on the screen suddenly makes my gestures lock into “right click”, so I can’t use a single finger to touch the screen, as it brings up the right click menu throughout the device and apps. to scroll I have to use two-fingers within OneNote, the only way I know to fix it is to restart the surface! I can’t find these settings anywhere, I didn’t even realise anyone would WANT to lock right-click so that everything you touched with one finger would “right-click” it.. HELP??

    Reply

  6. Ty

    09/26/2015 at 2:50 pm

    Bradley, I have the same problem, a simple solution is to use device manager to disable then re enable to touch screen and it should be fine again. It is really bothersome though and I am still looking for a proper solution.

    Reply

  7. erin

    10/16/2015 at 9:11 am

    Has anyone has problems with being able to input information in certain websites?

    Reply

  8. Chris

    10/29/2015 at 7:19 pm

    I am running a sp3 i5 128gb, I have issues with the pen in one note (desktop 2013), when the device is plugged in it is basically unusable. The screen does not pick up all pen strokes, when I go to erase, it erases but then a bunch of ink dots appears. Anyone have a fix for this? Microsoft’s solution is to send me a new pen but both pens I have do the exact same thing. I use the device pretty heavy for school-13 hrs/day. Please help!

    Reply

  9. Fremon

    11/12/2015 at 3:30 pm

    How silly is this? This is the type of useless clutter that bogs down the internet like Seattle traffic.

    Reply

  10. Victoria Bell

    11/21/2015 at 10:39 am

    Sometimes my Surface 3 Pro seems to go through a period where it randomly restarts, most often when it’s on the dock and after I’ve put it to sleep using the power button. I have no idea what causes it — obviously, sometimes it’s due to a Windows update, but not always (for example, it’s done this twice this morning, but there’s been no update). It’s really annoying, because it force-closes everything — all apps and software that I might have running at the time. Does anyone else have this issue?

    Reply

  11. Brady Rowser

    12/02/2015 at 5:32 pm

    My Surface 3 glitches and will not wake up from sleep mode if when it went to sleep I had my 2nd monitor plugged in or I have an external mouse/keyboard plugged in via usb port. Any thoughts?

    If I remove those items and then let the machine go to sleep, it wakes up just fine.

    Reply

  12. Blake

    12/10/2015 at 10:04 am

    These aren’t Fixes to the problems.

    WiFi issues are related to the Marvell Wireless adapter.
    – To fix WiFi issues Right click on your Windows icon. or Press Windows Symbol+X
    – Click Device Manager
    – Uninstall Marvell Wireless adapter
    – Restart Computer.

    To fix Keyboard not detected & Screen Not Rotating.
    – Press and Hold Vol Down + Power to HARD SHUTDOWN
    – Hold VOL Down and Tap Power button to boot to BIOS
    – Save and Exit
    – Repeat up to 3 times if needed

    Reply

    • Jenn

      01/01/2016 at 1:56 am

      Holy Crap Blake, I have been battling the keyboard/screen issue all year, it just all of a sudden goes off then starts working again….I am soooo glad I didn’t throw the thing (like I wanted to do a couple of times) THANK YOU!!! This worked right away :)…. Your my hero of 2016!!

      Reply

    • Eemeli Saarelainen

      02/15/2016 at 7:44 am

      Thanks million times! I had to hold VOL Up + press Power for 5 seconds and then release for the BIOS to appear but still your procedure saved me quite a bit of frustration.

      Reply

    • Pdiddy

      02/26/2016 at 8:20 am

      Your a damn lifesaver. Randomly held Vol up + power button and shut it off and then turned it back on and it worked. It was turning on previously but froze at the black screen with Surface on it.

      Reply

  13. Emilia

    03/18/2016 at 1:03 pm

    Hi,

    Great list of tips here.

    I just wanted to add one correction: the auto-brightness settings are under Power and Sleep, not Display, within PC and Devices. Microsoft reference is here below.

    https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/personalization-and-ease-of-access/troubleshoot-surface-touchscreen-brightness?os=windows-8.1-update-1#settingsw8

    Reply

  14. David Oon

    06/13/2016 at 5:20 pm

    Hi. Just last Friday, the mousepad function went awry. The usual left tap (used to select etc) no longer works as usual. When tapped once, it goes into select mode. Meaning to say that when I tap once, it becomes a select function for drag and drop. Can’t seem to find anything talking about this problem.

    Reply

  15. Dar

    07/14/2016 at 7:46 pm

    I am having a problem of getting a gray/blue screen when trying to power on. I have it plugged into electric thinking that maybe my battery life was not enough to turn it on. Any suggestions?

    Reply

  16. Tracy

    07/19/2016 at 7:37 pm

    My surface has been “restarting” for 4 hours now. I have tried everything except a hammer and throwing the thing across the room…nothing seems to be stopping it from restarting and I cannot get it off this screen.

    When I was finished with it earlier (and it was working fine) I shut it down like I always do only to have this red screen that says restarting in the middle of it with the little white balls going in a circles…I’m waiting for the battery to die so I can see if plugging it in will help

    Any ideas or anything?

    Reply

  17. Christene

    08/08/2016 at 9:49 pm

    My Surface Pro 3 recently started to quickly drain its battery and the fan is LOUD. The tablet heats up. I haven’t had it for a full year yet. My last Surface RT died at the year mark …I like this tablet but if they die within a year of purchase, then it’s just not worth the price. Any further suggestions. I don’t have anything blocking the vent. Thanks.

    Reply

  18. Rui CAMPOSINHOS

    09/26/2016 at 12:23 pm

    My surface pro has been replaced twice.
    I use it connected to a docking staion,
    THIS IS MY 3RD ONE AND AFTER WORKING FOR SOME HOURS IT COMES WITH THE SAME PROBLEM… just stop working completely black screen and does not simply WON’T TURN ON.
    all these steps were carefully followed:
    https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/warranty-service-and-recovery/surface-wont-turn-on?os=windows-10&=undefined

    IT SUCKS,

    I want money back.

    Reply

  19. ugottabekidding

    12/02/2016 at 10:15 pm

    my keyboard wo
    ntwork and when i dissconnect it there is white stuff

    Reply

  20. ugottabekidding

    12/02/2016 at 10:16 pm

    my keyboard dosnet work and when i unplug it has white
    stuff on it

    Reply

  21. Shae

    12/05/2016 at 11:11 pm

    My cursor is constantly flashing hence not allowing me to type. Happening on all programmes. Have rebooted but still no joy. Any ideas? It’s a surface pro 3.

    Reply

  22. Nick

    02/13/2017 at 6:16 am

    When working with my surface pro 3 with the Keyboard attached, my screen goes goes to my log-in screen. When I unplug the keyboard it works fine. Any ideas why this is happening?

    Reply

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