Make the desktop more touch-friendly on Surface RT (Windows RT)

The desktop is a valuable part of Windows RT, hosting the built-in Office apps as well as system tools, desktop Internet Explorer and more.  While Windows RT can’t run x86/amd64 software, it does have the same RDP 8.0 shipped with Windows 8.  Pair the Windows RT desktop with a RemoteApp-capable server and you’ll get long battery life while still accessing your Windows apps.  I’ll cover using RemoteApps on Surface RT in my next post.

 

First, let’s walk through making the desktop just a little bit more finger-friendly.  There are 3 options which can be used independently or together: Increase the system DPI, change the default text size, enable touch mode in Office apps.

Change the system DPI

Screen Resolution control panel

Visit Control Panel\Appearance and Personalization\Display\Screen Resolution (right-click on the desktop, Screen Resolution) and choose Make text and other items larger.  Select Medium – 125% to make hit targets larger across the system.  Some desktop apps will be too large to fit on the screen in landscape mode, so this option won’t work for every app.

Change text size

Screen Resolution control panel

Visit Control Panel\Appearance and Personalization\Display\Screen Resolution (right-click on the desktop, Screen Resolution) and choose Make text and other items larger.  Under Change only the text size, select the types of content and the associated font size.  Menus and Icons work nicely at 14.  Enlarging the menus and icons will also make Office and all right-click menus more touch friendly!

Enable Touch Mode in Office.

Office 2013 - Quick Access toolbar - Touch/Mouse mode

Open Word and select the down-arrow on the Quick Access toolbar, just above the File menu in Office 2013.  Ensure that “Touch/Mouse mode” is checked so the item appears on the Quick Access toolbar, and then select the hand icon to toggle between touch and mouse spacing.  Office is a little easier to use with touch-spacing, but the font size changes in the section above are actually much more helpful than the option built-in to Office 2013.

Office 2013 - Quick Access toolbar - Touch/Mouse mode

With just a few tweaks, the desktop on Windows RT can be highly touchable while still remaining functional with a mouse and keyboard.

 

Next time: See how to use RemoteApps on Windows RT.

November 4, 2012