Microsoft’s foray into the world of touch-based devices began a long time ago with Windows Mobile and Windows for Tablet PCs even before iOS and Android existed. Though after failing to compete with these new platforms, Microsoft decided to give Windows a whole new direction, resulting in the creation of Windows 8 based on the tile-based interface first introduced in Windows Phone 7. For devices equipped with touch screen and stylus input, Windows 8 and RT offers Pen and Touch options options in the Control Panel to tweak settings for pen and touch input on the devices. In this post, we will give an explanation of each setting for touch-based devices offered by Windows 8/RT, and guide you on how to change it to your advantage. Do note that pen options will not be available if your device doesn’t come with a pen/stylus.
You will be able to see the Pen and Touch settings in the Control Panel only on touch-based devices. We failed to locate the icon in the Control Panel of a Windows 8 laptop without a touch screen, which makes perfect sense.
The devices that do not have a Pen feature will only have the Touch related options available under Pen and Touch. These options allow you to change settings related to Double-Tap as well as Press and Hold gestures. In addition, you can also choose to show or hide visual feedback (in form of small gray lines that follows your finger), and optimize it for better visibility during projection to an external monitor.
A double-tap is equivalent to a double-click with the mouse, while the press and hold gesture performs the mouse right-click function, as you can’t exactly do a left-tap or a right-tap with your fingers. There are two Double-tap settings available, adjustable through sliders: Speed and Spatial Tolerance. Speed lets you adjust the maximum time delay between two successive taps to be recognized as a double-tap. Moving the slider to the left will recognize relatively slower multiple taps (with a longer delay) as a double-tap, while moving it to the right will require you to make both the taps faster. The Spatial Tolerance option lets you specify the maximum distance between the points of two successive taps to recognize them as a double-tap. For instance, if you tap once on one corner and immediately tap another corner of the device, it will not be recognized as a double tap, even if the Speed is set to Slow. Though it’s often not possible to tap successively on the exact same pixel due to human error, and this option can be really useful for people with disabilities that hinder them from keeping their fingers steady while tapping. While configuring both these settings, you can test them using the test section provided, and save them once you’ve got everything the way you want.
Press and Hold mimics the right-click action of a mouse. You can enable or disable this option using the check box at the top. The Speed slider lets you change the amount of time that you must press and hold your finger over an object before a right-click action is performed. The Duration slider allows you to change the amount of time during press and hold to perform a right-click action, to perform an action similar to dragging your mouse with the right button pressed and releasing it to get a menu for the selected files.
That’s it for the Touch options of Windows 8 and RT. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.