The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 replaces a laptop very well and works as a large tablet when needed, which makes it a great alternative to both the MacBook Air and an iPad Air or iPad Air 2. For the last few months the 2-in-1 tablet/laptop served well as my primary mobile computer and at-home tablet. In that time, I’ve learned a few tricks and want to pass them along to help Surface Pro 3 users get the most out of theirs.
Replace the Loop with the Cleanint Cleanstylus Pro Holder
The biggest problem facing Surface Pro 3 users is the lack of an acceptable holder for the Surface Pen. I lost mine thanks to this horrible design. Without the Surface Pen the Surface Pro 3 loses one of the distinctive things that makes it so great: pressure sensitive fine-tipped writing and drawing on the great high-res screen. Thanks to Cleanint there’s finally a solution, one that Microsoft should’ve created: the Cleanstylus Surface Pro stylus holder. The holder snaps onto the corner of the Surface Pro 3. It comes with some reusable adhesive that holds the plastic holder in place but won’t permanently attach. This keeps the Surface Pro 3 back from getting sticky glue on it.
Fasten the Cleanstylus Surface Pro to the corner of the Surface Pro 3 and never worry about losing the Surface Pen again.
It comes in colors to match the Microsoft Type Covers and costs $19.95 from Cleanint. Microsoft should just license the idea and package them with every new Surface Pro 3 in the future.
Surface Pro 2 owners can also use the holder. It attaches to either corner of the tablet and holds the Surface Pen safely in place. The pen’s clip fits over the holder to keep it in place, even when putting it in or pulling it out of a computer bag as seen above. A tiny raised dot holds the clip at the perfect spot.
Attach the Surface Pen to the Surface Pro Instead of the Type Cover
Many people will attach their Surface Pen to their Type cover. They do this because the horrible loop discussed above comes with the Type Cover instead of the Surface Pro 3. If you don’t get the Cleanstylus Surface Pro holder mentioned above, then fasten the loop to the tablet instead of the Type Cover so the pen’s always with the tablet, even when you pull the Type Cover off and leave it behind while using the Surface Pro 3 as a tablet instead of a laptop.
Wirelessly Mirror or Extend the Display
In our Tips & Tricks post we talked about hooking up to a wireless display, but now we want to show you how to Extend the display so you can make presentations or watch a video on a TV or projector while working on the Surface Pro 3.
Running PowerPoint works great with the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter using Windows 8.1 or later and the Extend My Display option.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 includes Miracast support, a wireless display technology that lets users wirelessly connect their Surface Pro 3 to a TV or other display via devices that support it.
The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, one useful wireless Miracast dongle, costs $59.95 and works a little like a Google Chromecast. Plug it in via HDMI and power it through the TV’s USB port or a USB/AC adapter.
On the Surface Pro 3 swipe in from the right side of the screen to show the Charms bar (on Windows 8 or 8.1). Select Settings and then Change PC Settings from the bottom of the bar. Now tap on PC and Devices and then Display. At the bottom of the ensuing screen there’s a link that says “Connect to wireless display.”
Click on either add display or select the wireless display you want to connect to.
A new column appears along the right side that lists the projectors or displays compatible with the Surface Pro 3. Tap or click on one or choose Add a wireless display and follow the on-screen directions for adding a new display.
Once the Surface connects to the wireless display, the Display configuration screen shows up. Find the drop down box labelled Multiple displays and click on it. To mirror the Surface screen on the external wireless display, choose Duplicate these displays. To show different things on each display, choose Extend these displays. Select the second one for making presentations or for showing video on the external wireless display while working on the Surface Pro 3. Open Netflix or some other video on the second display and use whatever apps you want on the Surface to get some work done while streaming a video.
If you don’t think you have a wireless display, look again. The Microsoft Wireless Display works, but so does a Roku 3 or Roku Streaming Stick.
Take a Screenshot with the Surface Pen
Double tap the top button to take a screenshot.
People who help others learn how to use a Surface Pro 3, or those who want to clip to OneNote what they see in an app or on a webpage, can use the Surface Pen to take a screenshot clipping and save it to OneNote or the Surface storage drive.
Grab the Surface Pen and double tap the top button. The Surface Pro 3 takes a full screen screenshot of whatever’s showing on the display. It will look grayed out and a message appears to say that the user can draw a box around the content they wish to save. Use the tip of the pen to draw a box around the part of the screen you want to save and OneNote will create a QuickNote with the screenshot. Use OneNote to save it in a note. Annotate the screenshot or use your finger to press and hold on the shot and choose to save it for use in another program.
Play Games with an Xbox One Controller
First, make sure the Surface Pro 3 has all the latest Windows updates by going into PC Settings using the steps above and choose Update and Recovery. Select Windows Update from the left column and then choose Check Now. Install any updates to make sure the Xbox Controller software works.
Now, plug an Xbox Controller into the USB port on the Surface Pro 3 using the USB cable that usually comes with the controller. We saw this work playing Titanfall, although the frame rates weren’t very fast. Other games that only need more moderate specs should work great. Combine this with the above tip for mirroring or extending to an external display to turn the Surface Pro 3 a game console for playing less demanding games. For more information see How to Play Games On Your Windows 8 PC With the Xbox One Controller.