Not too long ago, Windows changed how the pen functions in web browsers, Windows Explorer, and many other apps, forcing a screen drag with a basic tap (like a hand tool), rather than selecting text. In order to select text now, you have to hold the pen button down while doing so (in Explorer, you need to drag horizontally first to select anything, dragging vertically scrolls the window). This has created a whole slew of problems for me that I haven't ever gotten used to dealing with.

-You can't select text, then right-click it for the context menu, you have to use the context menu that pops up after you let go of the button. Trying to right-click the selected text cancels the selection (when I say right-click here, I'm referring to holding the pen button while tapping, the pen's functional equivalent). This is especially annoying when the context menu that comes up after you select with the pen doesn't have a "copy" option.

-You can't select a portion of text inside the address bar, only the whole thing (problem might be limited to Chrome).

-You can no longer use the pen-button-click-drag for right-click context dragging in Windows Explorer. It just automatically moves it (or copies it if dragged to another drive), with no option to say Create a Copy or Shortcut (this is exceedingly frustrating because tap-hold-dragging with the finger still works as previously).

-Spotty webpage functionality (especially relating to forms), some boxes scroll with the pen, some don't, some text is selectable, some isn't. Some web pages flat-out refuse the new pen, requiring you to tap-hold with a finger, then shift-arrow on the keyboard to select text for copying.

-Myriad quality of life hassles related to holding down the unreliable pen button or constantly switching between the pen and finger for basic navigation.

-A bunch of apps aren't configured to work with this new unpolished functionality, making them incredibly difficult to use with the pen (Steam comes to mind).

There's other stuff, I just can't think of it all. It's been a constant headache since it was implemented (maybe December last year?) I have a Surface Pro 3, which I use as a workhorse, being a digital artist, so these problems are constant, and regularly affect my productivity. Is there a way to restore the pen to its previous functionality? I just want it to work exactly like the mouse again, with regular taps equivalent to left-clicking, and button-held-taps equivalent to right-clicking. The update can't be rolled back, and even if it could, Windows would force it in 30 days regardless. I need some kind of registry tweak or something to fix this in a permanent way. Does anyone know how this might be done?

  • I know it sounds silly but have you tried just pen settings? – jdwolf May 21 '18 at 19:40
  • Yes, @jdwolf, the pen settings are remarkably bare. They don't really give you any options at all in how the pen functions. Save what the eraser button does, which is irrelevant here. – Shanenopolis May 22 '18 at 8:54

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