What Is Windows 10 Tablet Mode?

How to enable and disable tablet mode on your Windows 10 PC

Windows 10 offers a feature that truly makes the most of having a touchscreen-enabled PC. Called Tablet mode, it's exactly what it sounds like: a mode that allows you to interact with your PC primarily by using its touchscreen, just as you would a tablet.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10.

What Is Tablet Mode?

Tablet mode is an optional feature allowing Windows 10 users with touchscreen-enabled PCs to use their devices by touching the screen rather than using a mouse and keyboard.

Tablet mode displays the Windows 10 user interface to optimize the PC's use as a tablet. Such optimization usually includes large app icons, fewer icons displayed, and an on-screen touch keyboard.

Tablet Mode vs. Desktop Mode

If you're a long-time user of Windows PCs, you're probably more familiar with Desktop Mode than Tablet mode. Tablet mode is a feature created to allow users to interact with their PCs without using their keyboard or mouse. Desktop mode is essentially Tablet mode's predecessor, offering a classic Windows Start menu and desktop with as many thumbnail-sized programs, apps, and document icons as a person could want.

The main difference between the two modes is their appearance. Desktop Mode provides a classic point-and-click workspace. Tablet mode largely eschews the display of many tiny icons in favor of large, square app tiles featuring animations or content slideshows. The classic Start menu appears to be missing from Tablet mode, but it's been moved to the screen's center. The large tiles are the Start menu, and they're no longer relegated to the left-hand corner of the screen as they were in Desktop Mode.

How to Enable Windows 10 Tablet Mode

There are at least three ways to access and enable Tablet mode and its settings within Windows 10.

Using the Start menu

  1. Select the white, square Start icon located in the lower-left corner of the screen.

  2. Select the Settings gear icon in the Start menu to open the the settings.

    Settings in Start in Windows 10
  3. Select System.

    System in Windows Settings
  4. Select Tablet mode on the left side of the screen.

    Tablet Mode in System Settings
  5. Tablet mode's customization options, including the ability to enable it upon startup, appear in the center of the screen.

    To choose whether desktop mode or Tablet mode is enabled when you turn on your computer, select the When I sign in drop-down menu and select either Use tablet mode or Use desktop mode.

    You can also select Use the appropriate mode for my hardware to allow the system to choose the best one for your hardware.

    Tablet Mode settings show When I sign in options
  6. To choose how you want your system to automatically switch between modes, select the When this device automatically switches tablet mode on or off drop-down menu and then select an option:

    • Don't ask me, and don't switch
    • Always ask me before switching
    • Don't ask me and always switch.
    Tablet mode settings menu in Windows 10
  7. If you want to hide the app icons while using Tablet mode, toggle on Hide app icons on the taskbar in tablet mode.

    If you want to hide the Taskbar entirely, toggle on Automatically hide the taskbar in tablet mode.

    Tablet mode options in Windows 10

Using the Search Bar

You can bypass the Start menu and access the Tablet mode settings from the Windows 10 Search.

  1. Type tablet mode into the Taskbar's Search bar, located next to the Start menu icon, on the screen's lower-left side.

  2. The first search result that pops up should be Tablet mode settings. Select this to be taken directly to the Tablet mode settings.

    Using the Search bar method to access Tablet mode settings in Windows 10
  3. Repeat steps 5-7 of the previous section to customize the Tablet mode settings.

Using the Action Center

Another option is to access Tablet mode settings via the Windows 10 Action Center.

  1. Select the Action Center icon, located in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

    Action Center icon in Windows 10
  2. Select Tablet mode in the large menu to enable Tablet mode's features for your computer's display.

    Selection of Tablet Mode in the Action menu

How to Disable Windows 10 Tablet Mode

You can also disable tablet mode in a few different ways.

Via the Action Center

The quickest way to disable Windows 10 Tablet mode is through the Action Center.

  1. Select the Action Center icon.

    Action Center icon in Windows 10
  2. Select the Tablet mode again to disable Tablet mode's display features.

    Disable Tablet mode button in Action Menu

Via Settings

You can also disable tablet mode by going to the Windows 10 settings.

  1. Select the Start menu and select the gear icon (Settings) at the lower left.

    The setting menu item in Windows 10.

    You can also open the Settings window by using the Windows + S keyboard shortcut.

  2. Select the System tile.

    The System panel in Windows 10 settings.
  3. Select Tablet mode in the panel at the left of this window.

    Tablet mode menu item in the Settings menu in Windows 10.
  4. On the next screen, there are two settings you can modify, so that tablet mode isn't automatically enabled. First, you can select Use desktop mode from the When I sign in drop-down menu.

    Use desktop mode menu item in Windows 10.
  5. Under When this device automatically switches tablet mode on or off, you can select either Always ask me before switching, or Don't ask me and don't switch.

    Changing automatic tablet switching menu item in Windows 10.
  6. Restart your computer.

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