What is Windows 10 Tablet Mode?

Discover how to enable and disable tablet mode on your Windows 10 PC

A desktop screenshot of the Windows 10 Tablet Mode feature while enabled and in use.

For Windows 10 users with touchscreen-enabled PCs, Microsoft's latest version of its operating system offers a feature that truly makes the most of having a touchscreen included with your computer. 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.

What is Tablet Mode?

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

Tablet Mode displays the Windows 10 user interface in such a way that optimizes 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 more recent 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 program, app, and document icons a person could want.

The main difference between the two modes is their appearance. Desktop Mode provides a classic point-and-click workspace, while 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 really been moved to the center of the screen. The large tiles are the Start menu and they're no longer relegated to the left-hand corner of the screen as they would have been 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 gear icon located on the lower left side of the Start menu to open the settings.

  3. Select System. It should have the basic outline of a computer as its icon.

  4. You should see a long list of options running along the left side of the screen. Select Tablet mode.

  5. You should see Tablet mode's customization options, including the ability to enable it upon startup will appear in the center of your screen.

    A screenshot of the Tablet Mode settings menu within Windows 10.
  6. To choose whether desktop mode or tablet mode is enabled when you turn on your computer, select the When I sign in dropdown 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 mode for your hardware.

  7. To choose how you want your system to automatically switch between modes, select the When this device automatically switches tablet mode on or off dropdown menu, then select Don't ask me and don't switch, Always ask me before switching, or Don't ask me and always switch.

  8. If you want to hide the app icons while using Tablet mode, simply toggle Hide app icons on the taskbar in tablet mode to On. If you want to hide the Taskbar entirely, just toggle Automatically hide the taskbar in tablet mode to On.

Using the Search bar

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

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

    A screenshot showing how to use the Search bar method to access Tablet mode settings in Windows 10.
  3. Repeat steps 5-8 above to customize your tablet mode's settings.

Using the Action Center

A screenshot showing how to enable Tablet Mode on a Windows 10 PC using the Action Center menu.
  1. Select the Action Center icon, located in the lower right hand corner of the screen, next to the date and time display. It should be a small, square-shaped icon resembling an outline of a notification or conversation bubble.

  2. A large menu will appear from the right side of the screen. At the bottom, select Tablet mode to quickly enable Tablet Mode's features for your computer's display.

    A screenshot showing how to enable Tablet Mode on a Windows 10 PC using the Action Center menu.
  3. That's it!

How to Disable Windows 10 Tablet Mode

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

  1. Select the Action Center icon.

  2. Select the Tablet mode again to disable Tablet Mode's display features.

    A screenshot showing how to disable Tablet Mode on a Windows 10 PC.
  3. That's it!