Make the Microsoft Surface Desktop More Touch Friendly and Easier to See

The Microsoft Surface metro-style interface is easy enough to navigate via touch, but the desktop is small and hard to navigate by touch. Here’s a couple of ways to make it easier.

The Microsoft Surface metro-style interface is easy enough to navigate via touch, but the desktop isn’t  It’s small, difficult to see, and not optimized for touch. Here’s a few easy settings tweaks that will make the desktop easier to use with your finger.

Change Surface Display Settings

I recommend making these changes with the Touch or Type keyboard because it’s easier. But you can use touch gestures if you need to.

From the desktop, right click and empty area of the desktop and select Personalize.


If you don’t have a keyboard, long press an empty area of the desktop until you see a square outline. Release your finger and tap Personalize from the context menu.

Tap for Menu

When the Personalization windows comes up, click or tap Display under See Also.


Now in the Display window, under Change the Size of All Items, change Smaller to Medium 125% and tap the Apply button.


If 125% isn’t enough for you, tap Custom Sizing Options, and select how large you want to go.

Custom Size

Then you’re prompted to sign out before the changes will happen.

Sign Out

When you log back in, you’ll see the icons on the desktop and in File Explorer are larger and easier to tap. The text is larger too, and more space between items in the Navigation pane.

File Explorer

In this example I made everything 150% larger. Switching to a larger size increases everything on the desktop, including Office 2013, system admin tools, and Internet Explorer 10.

Full Desktop

Tip: IE 10 will be larger on the desktop, but if you want to make pages easier to navigate, you might want a smaller size. To change the page size, use the keyboard shortcut WinKey + – (dash key).

Make Icons Open with Single Click or Tap

While Windows 8 apps open with a simple tap on a Tile, the desktop still uses the traditional double click or double tap without a keyboard, Trackpad, or mouse. Change the setting to open folders with one tap instead.

From the desktop hit Ctrl + X and select Control Panel.


When Control Panel opens, switch from Category view to Large Icon.

Large icons

The click or tap Folder Options.

Folder Options

Or you can get there by typing folder options in the Setting Search field and selecting the Folder Options icon under results.

Folder Search Results

In the Folder Options screen, select “Single-click to Open an item (Point to Select)” and click OK.

one click

Something to keep in mind when changing this setting. Windows 8 will sync your settings between computers and devices. So changing this setting on your surface, will change it on your desktop or laptop too. So if you don’t want the one click settings on your regular PC,  you’ll need to change it back, or you can turn the Settings Sync feature off.

However, changing the size of all items, the first tip at the beginning of the page, won’t sync to your other machines. The larger items will be on your Surface only.

Do you have a Microsoft Surface tip for making it easier to use? Shoot me an email or leave a comment below!



  1. teralgoe

    Hey buddy! thanks for the tip, easy and pretty simple trick to make destop almost touch perfect.

    • Brian Burgess

      @teralgoe:disqus Thanks! Yeah, makes the Surface Desktop mode much easier to use.

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