What is the Tablet Mode in Windows 10, how to use it and configure it

Tablet Mode is a new feature of Windows 10 that was created as a result of the frustrations generated by the full-screen Start screen from Windows 8.1. It's a great way of using Windows 10 on touchscreen devices like tablets or 2-in-1's like Microsoft's Surface Pro. In this article we will share what the Tablet Mode is, how to use it, how to disable it and how to configure the way it works:

What is Tablet Mode in Windows 10?

In Windows 8, both the Start screen and modern apps from the Windows Store were running in full-screen, even if you did not use a tablet or a device with touch. This has caused a lot of frustration among users that had traditional desktop computers with a mouse and keyboard. In Windows 10, Microsoft developed the Tablet Mode , which is not enforced on all users, like it was in Windows 8, which is great. Windows 10 will actively mention the Tablet Mode only if you have a device with touch.

If you have a hybrid Windows 10 device like the Surface Pro, an ASUS Transformer or a Lenovo Miix, when you detach the tablet from its base or dock, you are asked whether you want to switch to Tablet Mode.

If you press Yes , the Start Menu is displayed in full-screen, as well as all apps, the Settings and the Control Panel. The app icons on the taskbar are hidden, as well as Cortana's search box which is shown when not using the Tablet Mode.

The desktop is no longer shown and the starting point for all your activities is the Start screen. By default, the Start screen displays the tiles that you pinned to it. On the top-left corner there are three icons, shown in the screenshot below.

If you press the first icon, the Start screen displays the name of all the buttons on its left side. If you press the second icon, your pinned tiles are shown (which is the default behavior of the Start screen) and if you press the third, a list is shown with all the apps that are installed on your Windows 10 device.

How to exit the Tablet Mode in Windows 10

Let's assume that you are in Tablet Mode in Windows 10 and you want to exit back to the normal desktop. On a device with touch, flick from the right margin of the screen to the left, to bring up the Action Center. Then, tap the Tablet mode button highlighted below.

If you are using a mouse and keyboard, click the Action Center icon from the notification area on the taskbar or press Windows + A on your keyboard. Then, click the Tablet mode button to exit this mode.

How to start Tablet Mode in Windows 10

If you have missed the prompt for switching to the Tablet Mode , you can enable it manually at any time, even on a device without a touchscreen, by using the same steps described in the previous section about exiting the Tablet Mode. When this mode is disabled and you press the Tablet mode button in the Action Center, it will start Tablet Mode.

How to configure how Tablet Mode works

If you want to configure how it works, open the Settings app. Then, go to System and then to Tablet mode. Here you will find all the settings that are related to this feature.

The first configuration option is named "When I sign in". If you click or tap on its drop-down list, you can choose one of the following options:

  • "Use tablet mode" - forces Windows 10 to use Tablet Mode each time you sign in, even if you are using a mouse and keyboard at that time. This is the same behavior Windows 8 had and you might not enjoy it, unless you are using a tablet without a mouse and keyboard.
  • "Use desktop mode" - forces Windows 10 to go to the desktop each time you sign it, even if you are using the touchscreen. This option is useful to users who have devices without touchscreens.
  • "Use the appropriate mode for my hardware" - when this setting is enabled, Windows 10 checks whether you have a mouse and keyboard available on your device. If you do, then it goes to the desktop when you sign in. Otherwise, starts the Tablet Mode. We recommend that you use this setting on hybrid devices.

The second configuration option is named "When this device automatically switches tablet mode on or off". Click or tap on its drop-down list and choose one of the following options:

  • "Don't ask me and don't make the switch" - Windows 10 never changes the current mode unless you manually change it using the instructions shared earlier in this tutorial.
  • "Always ask me before switching" - when it detects that you attached or detached the tablet from its base or dock, Windows 10 asks what you want it to do. This is the best setting in our view.
  • "Don't ask me and always switch" - Windows 10 automatically starts and exits Tablet Mode depending on whether you attached or detached the tablet from its base or dock

The last two settings have switches for turning them On or Off. If you enable Windows 10 to "hide app icons to the taskbar in tablet mode" , then no app icons are shown on the taskbar when this mode is turned on. However, we prefer to set this setting to Off, so that we can see and use the app icons on the taskbar, like in the screenshot below.

The last setting is self-explanatory: "Automatically hide the taskbar in tablet mode". We tried this and we hated it so we set the switch for this setting to Off.

Do you like the new Tablet Mode?

Now that you know what the Tablet Mode is and how it works in Windows 10, try it out, configure it the way you like it and let us know what you think about this feature. Is useful to you? Does it have issues? Would you like Microsoft to improve certain things about it?