Customizing the Surface 2 Start Screen

Microsoft Surface 2 has two faces. One is the Metro or Modern UI screen filled with colorful tiles. Others are Desktop where Applications in Microsoft Office 2013 suite run. With the release of the Surface 2, Microsoft has made navigating between these two worlds a little easier and not so cumbersome. Additionally, Microsoft has made it easy for you to see what you want when you sign in to Windows 8.1 or start your Surface 2. Considering that Microsoft wants you to think of the Start Screen as your home base, most of these changes you have to go through the Control Panel on the Desktop side of things. Here’s how to customize the Surface 2 Start screen, do some customization on the Surface RT, and different skins you can adjust.

Personalize the Start Screen

When you first start a Surface RT, you will be greeted with the Start Screen with Apps displayed in the Tile interface. If you want to change the colors of the screen or background, swipe right to reach the Charms Menu. Then choose Personalize. Here you will see a selection of backgrounds along with options to change background colors and accent colors.

Start Screen Personalization

For the Start Screen, you are limited to the wallpaper backgrounds displayed here. When you select a background wallpaper, the color options will change the look of that background.

Make Wallpapers Same Between Desktop and Start Screens

If you want a different wallpaper for the Start Screen than those offered in the Personalize menu, or if you want your Desktop and Start Screen to have the same wallpaper, here’s how to do it.

First choose a Desktop wallpaper you like. If the Desktop Tile isn’t on your Start Screen, you can get there a few ways.

  1. You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to go to the All Apps screen and there you can find the Desktop Tile.
  2. You can swipe in from the right to access the Buttons Menu, Select Search and enter the Desktop.

When you reach the Desktop, Right Click or Hold on the Screen. A context-sensitive menu opens with Personalization at the bottom. Select Personalization.

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Here Windows users will see the familiar Control Panel view for changing themes, wallpapers and colors.

Change Desktop Backgrounds and Themes

Change Desktop Backgrounds and Themes

Select Desktop Background at the bottom of the screen.

Here you can choose the position of the image you want for your Background. Your selections are: Windows Desktop Backgrounds, Picture Library, Top Rated Photos, Solid Colors and Desktop Background and Camera Roll.

Choose the location of the content you want to view

Choose the location of the content you want to view

Take it for a spin and make your selection, then select Save Changes.

Then, you are already in the Control Panel. Find and select Taskbar and Navigation in the lower left corner. When the Taskbar and Navigation Properties screen opens, select the Navigation Tab.

Navigation Tab Options

Navigation Tab Options

At the bottom of this window you will see the Start Screen with a number of options available. Choose the second option: Show my desktop background on Start.

Start Screen with Desktop Background

Start Screen with Desktop Background

You are now set and your Desktop and Start Screen now have the same background.

Boot to All Apps Screen

One of the changes Microsoft has made in Windows 8.1 is to give you some options on which screen to boot into. One of these options is Boot to All Apps Screen. To navigate to Control Panel/Taskbar and Navigation Properties, follow the above procedures and select the Navigation tab.

Boot to All Apps Screen

Boot to All Apps Screen

The fourth option given is “Automatically show the Apps view when I go to Start”. Select this option and Start your Surface or when you restart you will be in the All Apps view.

All Apps Screen

All Apps Screen

Boot to Desktop

If you want to boot into the Desktop Environment instead of the Start Screen from the same Navigation tab, you can choose the first option: “When I log in or close all applications on one screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.”

Boot to Desktop

Boot to Desktop

This option doesn’t seem as logical on the Surface 2 as it does on the Surface Pro 2 or other Windows 8.1 computers. Aside from some system utilities, the only Apps you can use or install on Desktop on Surface 2 are Office 13 Apps which you can easily add to your Start Screen. In fact, the first time you reserve a Surface 2, these Tiles for Apps are prominently displayed on the Start screen.

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Creating a Group on the Start Screen

Microsoft has also made it easy to organize and name the Tiles on the Start screen into groups. Swipe up one finger from the Start screen and you’ll see a bar with the Customize icon in the lower right corner of the screen.

Name Groups on the Start Screen

Name Groups on the Start Screen

Select this icon and you will see that you can now name the Tile groups displayed on your screen. Name it to your heart’s content.