Microsoft Surface: remapping keys for power users

The Surface Pro 3 is a neat device but there are a bunch of user experience flaws concerning the Cover and the Pen (which we will solve in this post) such as:

  1. The Cover’s function keys F1-F12 can only be reached using the Fn button – especially annoying for developers.
  2. The Cover has no button for changing the screen brightness.
  3. The Surface Pen’s top button (the purple one) cannot be configured to open a custom program. I want the Snipping Tool to be opened.
  4. The Surface Pen lacks a “back” button, e.g. for quickly correct a wrong pen stroke in Photoshop, Mischief or similar drawing programs.
  5. I never use CapsLock – let’s map it to a different key, e.g. AltGr (this is of course not Surface-specific but a nice productivity boost nonetheless)


The solutions 1 & 2 are just simple keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Function key lock: Press Fn+CapsLock to toggle the behavior. Unfortunately, this introduces a new problem which will be solved in the paragraph after this:
    1. For F1-F8 I want the default to be the function keys themselves but for F9-F12 I want the reverse as default: Home, End, Page Up, Page DownSurface Pro cover: function keys
  2. Secret shortcuts for screen brightness: Fn + Del/Backspace

The remaining problems are solved by using AutoHotKey with its extensive scripting capabilities and a lively community sharing knowledge thereof.
After installing it, copy the following script to the autostart folder (e.g. under the name of EnableSurfaceProductivity.ahk) to have it running with every start. To test the effect immediately, double-click the file.

; Solution for 1b: Reverse behavior for F9-F12
; The dollar signs prevent that the hooks call themselves

$Home::SendInput, {F9}

$End::SendInput, {F10}

$PgUp::SendInput, {F11}

$PgDn::SendInput, {F12}

$F9::Send, {Home}

$F10::Send, {End}

$F11::Send, {PgUp}

$F12::Send, {PgDn}

; Solution 3: Open the Snipping Tool when double-pressing the purple button
; The script waits for the program to start and then simulates
; Win+PrintScreen which directly jumps to the selection process
Run, "C:\Windows\Sysnative\SnippingTool.exe"
WinActivate, Snipping Tool ; This makes sure it is active
WinWaitActive, Snipping Tool
Send, ^{PrintScreen}

; Solution 4: Simulate Ctrl+Z when single-clicking the purple button
#F20::Send, ^z ; Left Arrow, Browser Back Button

; Solution 5: Map CapsLock to AltGr

2 thoughts on “Microsoft Surface: remapping keys for power users

  1. Bless you for posting a solution to keep function keys for F1-F8 while retaining the Home, End, and Page Up/Page Down keys. I’m considering buying a first gen Surface Book and this may have very well been a dealbreaker without your solution. Note to Microsoft if you read this: it was almost a dealbreaker!!

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