Helpful tips and tricks for your Windows RT device

Windows 8 RT tabletMicrosoft’s Windows RT platform is available on a number of tablets from manufacturers like Samsung, Asus, Dell, and Lenovo. The most notable release to date, and the best-selling, was the Surface RT from Microsoft itself. There are frequent rumors that other manufacturers like HTC and Nokia might be tempted to release devices on the platform, and unconfirmed reports that Microsoft will ship a smaller, 7-inch version of the Surface.

If you took a leap of faith as an early adopter, then you might be interested in some helpful Windows RT tips and tricks to help you get the best experience from your device. If you’re still fence sitting, then check out our Microsoft Surface with Windows RT review.

How to take a screenshot

To take a screenshot on a Windows RT tablet all you need to do is press the Windows (Home) button and the volume down button at the same time. The screen should dim slightly to indicate that the screenshot was captured. You can review your screenshots by going into your Pictures folder where you’ll find a Screenshots folder was automatically created.

Windows RT keyboard shortcuts and gestures

There are various keyboard shortcuts built-in to Windows RT so you can, for example, tap Windows + I to open Settings, or tap Windows + O to lock the screen orientation. It’s worth checking the Microsoft site for a full list of possible keyboard shortcuts.

You’ll also navigate around using gestures, which are all pretty intuitive for anyone who has used a touch screen before. You can always check out the list for the Surface RT at the Microsoft site.

How to set up PIN or picture password

If you are concerned about other people gaining access to your private files or snooping around on your Windows RT tablet then you’ll want some security, but you might not want to input your full password every time you want to use the device. Go to Settings > Change PC Settings and tap Users and you’ll see the option to Create a picture password or Create a PIN. The picture password option is a nice idea – you select a photo and input three gestures by tapping or swiping on specific areas of the picture.

How to personalize your RT device

One of the first things you’ll want to do is give your new Windows RT a personal look. Go to Settings > Change PC settings > Personalize and choose your Lock screen picture and your preferred color scheme for the Start screen. You can also change your Account picture in here if you want to.

How to customize your Live Tiles

You tap on a Live Tile to enter the app, but you can also flick up or down on it to open up an options bar which will allow you to unpin, change the size, uninstall, or turn a Live Tile off. In order to drag it around the screen, you simply long press on it and then drop it in your desired location.

If you want to name groups of Tiles, then pinch to zoom out and flick down on a group to bring up the Name group option.

How to get a cheap HDMI cable

If you want to output video onto your TV then the easiest way is to use the HDMI out port. The official mini HDMI to HDMI cable that you can buy in the Windows Store is horribly expensive. Don’t be conned into paying out the extra cash when you can simply search online for “mini HDMI to HDMI cable” and find one for a fraction of the price (Amazon often has good deals on cables). It will work just as well as the official one.

How to use your Xbox 360 controller on your RT device

If you have a wired Xbox 360 controller, then you can just plug it into the USB port on your Windows RT tablet and it will work for supported games. If you want to use your wireless Xbox 360 controller, then you’ll need to buy an Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows and plug that into your USB port first.

How to check compatibility of peripherals

In addition to the Xbox 360 controller there are various peripherals, from printers, to projectors, to cameras, and beyond, that are compatible with your Windows RT tablet. If you want to confirm whether your device is compatible or not, you can do so at the Windows Compatibility Center. Check the list or enter the product name in the search box provided.

How to free up some storage space

Windows RT uses up a surprising amount of space, in fact, on the Surface RT 32GB model there’s only 16GB free. You could free up around 4GB of that by creating a recovery drive and then deleting the recovery partition on the tablet.

Find a USB flash drive that’s at least 4GB and plug it in, then go into Settings and type “recovery” in the search bar. You should see Create a recovery drive in the results so tap on it and follow the instructions to create the recovery drive on your flash drive. When it finishes, you can select Delete the recovery partition and you’ll get some extra space. Just make sure that you keep the flash drive in a safe place because you’ll need it if you run into any major problems with your tablet.

How to allow media apps to see files on your microSD card

By default, you have to use File Explorer to view the files on your microSD card, but there is a way to get video, music, or photo apps to see your media files on the microSD card.

Start in File Explorer by creating a new folder in your C: drive; call it something like “SD card.” Now tap the Windows key and X together and then choose Disk Management. You can also get there by going into Settings and typing “disk management” in the search bar and then choosing Create and format hard disk partitions. Right click on your SD card, or tap and hold on it, and then select Change Drive Letter and Paths….

Now choose Add and then tap Browse next to the Mount in the following NTFS folder option. Now you can select your “SD card” folder that you created at the start. Now create four folders named Videos, Pictures, Music, and Documents on the SD card. To add the library folders, whether it’s Videos, Pictures, Music, or Documents, you simply right click on the folder in the left column in file explorer and choose Properties > Add and choose the appropriate folder on your SD card then click OK.

How to hide your photos

You can prevent all of your photos from automatically showing up in the Photo app gallery. Go into the file explorer and move any photos you want to hide from the Pictures folder into a new folder. Right click, or tap and hold, on the new folder and choose Properties > Advanced and uncheck Allow files in this folder to have contents indexed.

More Windows RT tips and tricks

That’s all of our Windows RT tips for now, but you can feel free to post your own. You can also check out this great thread at XDA Developers to find a lot more tricks for your Windows RT device. If you’ve been encountering any issues, then check out our roundup of Windows RT problems, complete with workarounds and solutions where possible.