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How to Use Tablet Mode in Windows 10



Whether you liked it or not, Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system changes a lot of things where touch is concerned. A vocal minority and people who were already familiar with the way touch worked on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 will likely blast Microsoft for these changes. The rest of us, the people who never used Windows 8 and never liked the way it handled touch, are quietly celebrating. Windows 10 has a dedicated Tablet Mode that better balances the needs of users and makes it easier to do things.

Tablet Mode in Windows 10 is for users that have a device equipped with a touch screen and want to make the most of it. Turning on the features activates edge gestures for closing apps and multitasking. It is Tablet Mode that decides whether the Windows 10 keyboard pops-up when you tap on a search box. Tablet Mode even controls how you multi-task in your apps.

How to Use Touch Mode in Windows 10 (2)

Here’s how to use Tablet Mode in Windows 10 and a breakdown of what it’s good for and what it’s not good for. Remember, you’ll need Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade to take advantage of the feature. You can reserve your free Windows 10 upgrade now. Microsoft will begin releasing the operating system in waves on July 29th.

Read: How to Get the Free Windows 10 Upgrade

Why Use Tablet Mode

If you have a notebook or desktop than Tablet Mode was created to satisfy you. Rather than forcing touch-centric ideas on all the Windows ecosystem, Microsoft decided it’d take a more granular approach. Tablet Mode is off by default for any device that has a keyboard and no touchscreen.

Tablet Mode is on by default for every device with a touch screen and no keyboard connected. The idea for Tablet Mode is the same as Windows 8. By making common sense changes to apps and the way Windows works, Tablet Mode makes everything more user-friendly.

When Tablet Mode is on tons of things change, but most of them center on the Taskbar.

  • Apps open in full screen by default
  • App snapping nets users run all apps by dragging apps to the sides of your screen and adjusting them with a slider in the middle.
  • The on-screen keyboard opens when you tap on text fields
  • The Taskbar turns black and replaces Cortana’s Search bar in the Taskbar with an icon. App icons disappear from the Taskbar
  • Titlebars for apps lose their back buttons and a permanent back button surfaces on the Taskbar.
  • The Taskbar picks up a multitasking button.
  • The Start Menu becomes the Start Screen and hides app lists in favor of making room for more Live Tiles and app shortcuts.
  • Windows 10 takes all the apps you have in multiple Desktops and combines them into a single view.

Some of these changes you can easily override. For example, you can bring app shortcuts back by tapping and holding on the Taskbar itself. Others don’t offer you the opportunity to switch anything. Tablet Mode is designed to fix Windows 8’s huge flaws.

Turning Tablet Mode On and Off

There are three different ways for you to turn on Tablet Mode in Windows 10. Microsoft includes an internal mechanism in Windows 10 called Continuum. Continuum intelligently manages Tablet Mode, turning it on automatically if there’s no keyboard present or turning it off if there as. How this is configured depends on your device. For example, the Surface Pro 3 asks you before making the switch. You can mange this setting or even turn the feature off completely from the Settings app in the System area. To be very clear, you can use Tablet Mode with a mouse and keyboard if you want too.

Windows 10 includes a centralized place for quickly switching settings and looking at Notifications. Microsoft calls this the Action Center and it includes a Tablet Mode button for toggling the setting quickly. Swipe left from the right edge of your touch enabled PC to open the Action Center. The Tap the Tablet Mode toggle. There’s a message button for the Action Center on the right side of the Taskbar too.

How to Use Touch Mode in Windows 10 (1)

If you go into the Settings app from the Start Screen.

Now tap on or click on System.

How to Use Touch Mode in Windows 10 (3)

Now tap or click on Tablet Mode.

How to Use Touch Mode in Windows 10 (4)

From here you can toggle Tablet Mode on or off and adjust your settings for Tablet Mode.

How to Use Touch Mode in Windows 10 (5)

Tablet Mode Gestures

Edge gestures were the true devil of Windows 8, Windows 10’s direct predecessor. Microsoft left way too many things without on-screen cues. Settings, for example, were hidden by a swipe on the left side of your screen. Most people never realized these options were there.

You’ll find that anything you can do with an edge gesture in Windows 10 has an on-screen button. Still edge gestures are included and pretty handy.

  • When in an app, swipe all the way down from the top edge of the screen to close an app, just like in Windows 8.
  • From anywhere place your finger on the left edge of your screen and swipe to the left to get a look at every app you have open.
  • Swipe down just a bit to open up menus from apps that haven’t been upgraded to better support Windows 10 yet. You’ll also get a titlebar that will allow you to make apps fullscreen.

That’s Tablet Mode in Windows 10. Really, it’s a simpler way of doing things for touch users and gives users the option interact with Windows the way they always have. Remember, you don’t need to turn on Tablet Mode to get the Start Screen back. GottaBeMobile runs down how to do that here.



  1. noname

    07/22/2015 at 8:20 am

    too much advertising… won’t go here again

  2. Ruman Ju

    07/29/2015 at 7:36 pm

    I have a Surface Pro 3 and I am not happy with a number of new features in Windows 10. If my keyboard is not attached, then the touch keyboard should pop up automatically no matter what mode I am in. This should be a no brainer. When I am using an app in full screen mode (which hides the taskbar), things like the clock, battery life, wifi signal strength etc etc should be available on the Action Center when I swipe in from the right, just as they appeared with the Charms Bar in Windows 8/8.1. When I am in tablet mode, I have no access to the icons I have on my desktop. I think the pendulum has swung too far to the desktop with Windows 10, it isn’t quite balanced yet. The folks at windows herald the coming of hybrid and tablet power users, but their product caters pretty strictly to either full mouse and keyboard users, or super simple small-tablet/phone users. Although with the SP3’s mediocre battery life and still no PowerCover to fit the SP3 footprint, perhaps not being able to see the battery life meter is a non issue … side gripe, sorry. Anyway, still some tweaking to go I feel.

    • Hermann

      08/05/2015 at 1:27 pm

      Just a hint: In Settings you can switch on the icons in tablet mode.

  3. Soup

    08/17/2015 at 5:12 pm

    No. Why did they have to separate desktop and tablet? How about desktop mode and Windows 8.1 mode? This would be much better. Give me the enhancements, by leave my swipes the way they were. I have switched to Windows 10 on my desktop… it’s pretty good. On my hybrid, it feels like they’ve broken everything. Why is there no access to the desktop when in tablet mode?

    I use my touch screen a lot, even when attached to a keyboard. I take my device apart often when on the couch or while teaching. I don’t want to switch modes just to get my modern aps to be full screen. And lose access to my desktop.

    This has not made things simpler, it has actually complicated matters!

  4. Ryan

    08/26/2015 at 11:54 am

    There’s a 3rd party app for auto-hiding the taskbar in tablet mode which also allows the taskbar to auto-appear in desktop mode. Free trial too.

    Nibbler Apps

  5. DavidTRobison

    08/28/2015 at 11:34 pm

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  6. David

    08/29/2015 at 6:22 pm

    Grammar check would really be a good idea before you publish another article. You know, simple things like “to” vs. “too” and “then” vs. “than.” Wow.

  7. mohamed magdy

    03/11/2016 at 8:45 am

    Thanks so much for this review . and I am using wacom touch tablet and it’s the best

  8. sonia

    09/28/2016 at 4:55 am

    I use.a tablet but sick of not being able read websites as they don’t download easy to read n small screen

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