Microsoft Surface Tips and Tricks: How to Right Click with the Touch Screen or Touch Pad

How to right click using your finger – Microsoft Surface for Windows RT

As you’re probably aware, the Microsoft Surface can be purchased without a Touch or Type cover and can be used without a mouse. Since Windows RT is very similar to Windows 8 and shares many similarities with even earlier versions of Windows, you’re definitely going to need to right click something eventually.

Depending on the context, right clicking can be done in a couple of ways.

First of all, you’ll need to figure out if you are in “Desktop” mode or in the “Start Screen” or another full screen application. Microsoft used to call this mode “Metro” or “Modern UI” but has since abandoned those phrases so I’ll explain the difference. The Desktop mode is the mode that looks like regular old Windows. The Desktop is the place that you will be running Excel, Powerpoint, Word and OneNote. As well, you’ll access your File Explorer, Task Manager and Control Panel from the Desktop only. In this mode, you can right click by holding your finger over any icon. You will see a transparent square appear around your finger. When you lift your finger you’ll see the right click options in a drop down menu just as you would if you click with the right button on a mouse.

Right Click Tutorial 3

If you are on the Start Screen and you’d like to select a specific application on the Start Screen, you can swipe down on that applications live tile.

It seems, however, that each application has a different way of translating a right click into the touch environment. If you’re not sure which of these gestures to use, just try them all until you get it right. Here are a couple of instances where it’sdifferent depending on the application:

Mail – To select multiple messages, swipe the message from the list from left to right. After selecting more than one in this manner, each selected message will have a check mark to indicate that it’s been selected

Evernote – To select a note or a notebook, swipe the object with a down stroke and you’ll see a check mark

Photos – To select multiple photos swipe down on the preview of all photographs you’d like to select

In summary, for the most part, if you are not in Desktop Mode, you’ll use a down stroke to select a specific object and if you are in Desktop Mode, you’ll want to press and hold until you see the transparent square.

Finally, if you are using the Touch or Type Cover, in addition to touching or clicking the lower right corner of the touch pad, you can also tap the touch pad with two fingers to right click.

Right Click Tutorial 1Right Click Tutorial 2

  • Dilip

    Hi, I recently upgraded to Win 10, seems okay so far, just need to figure out the minor differences from 8.1 I guess. In my surface pro 3, in either tablet or desktop mode, if I touch the screen, it gives me only right click options, does not allow me to use it normally, for that I need to use the pen, any idea how to get it back to normal? A restart works at times, but this error seems to occur more often when I pull out the keyboard and put it back.

    • 3 weeks user

      i have the same error on my surface 3 with windows 10. i dont know why this right-click error happens but there is a simpler way to fix it than restart. click on the screen with three fingers and that will bring back normal click on the screen. its extremely frustrating at times that the click turns to right click automatically and randomly. microsoft has to fix this as well as mandatory password requirement when awake from sleep.

      • Chad Hutson

        I’ve had the same error intermittently. The next time it happens I’ll try the 3 finger touch instead of a restart. Thanks!

    • nanogy

      go to mouse settings, mouse and touchpad, and then click the change primary mouse button.


  • Henry Bainton

    This post is literally amazing! Everything I’ve ever felt and failed to put into words

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