What is Tablet mode in Windows 10

With Windows 10, Microsoft has tried once again to create a universal OS for tablets, smartphones and the classic Desktop PC. This unification started earlier with Windows 8, but it was not a successful attempt. With Windows 10, Microsoft has only slightly tweaked the UI but hopes to achieve success again. To achieve that goal, Microsoft has added the ability to detect on which display Windows is being used and switch between tablet and desktop mode.

What is Tablet mode in Windows 10

With Tablet mode enabled, Windows 10 becomes more touch screen oriented. For instance, it changes the behavior of the Start menu and turns it into a fullscreen Start experience. Take a look at the pictures below.
The "Desktop" Start menu in Windows 10 looks like this:
start menu desktop mode windows 10
Compare it with the one when Tablet mode is enabled:
start menu tablet mode windows 10
It also changes the behavior of the Notification Center. In Desktop mode, it pops up from the bottom, but in Tablet mode it appears from the right, like the Charms bar in Windows 8.
notification center
When you start some modern app in Tablet mode, e.g. the Settings app, it will be opened full screen:
modern apps fullscreen
Unlike Desktop mode, in Tablet mode, Modern apps do not have minimize, maximize and close buttons visible on the screen. To show them, you need to move your mouse pointer to the top edge of the screen. It will make the titlebar visible:
modern apps title bar
And so on. So, Tablet mode is designed to replace the Modern/Metro part of the Windows 8 UX.

How to enable or disable Tablet mode in Windows 10

You can switch between Tablet mode and Desktop mode in Windows 10 using two ways:
Enable Tablet mode via the Settings app
You can enable Tablet mode via the Settings app. Open it and go to System -> Tablet Mode. There you will find the appropriate switch:
tablet mode system settings switch
The second option is the new Notification center feature.
Enable Tablet mode using Notification Center
Click the Notification Center icon on the taskbar to open it. There you will find the "Tablet mode" button which is a part of Quick Actions. Toggle that button to switch between Tablet mode and Desktop mode in Windows 10.
tablet mode notification center button
That's it.

Tablet mode in Windows 10 looks like a good replacement for the Modern UI implemented in Windows 8. Finally, the end user can choose between a full screen UI vs a non-full screen UI. In Windows 8/8.1, the Start screen was always full screen and could not be disabled natively.

5 thoughts on “What is Tablet mode in Windows 10

  1. Douglas

    Sadly tablet mode does not support running apps using the full screen, so if you don’t want the taskbar stuck at the bottom of your screen and an extra useless start button (all windows tablet are required to have a start mutton on the edge of the screen) you need to swap into desktop mode.

    This makes useless on an tablet with a screen size smaller than 10″ or so.

    In fact you cant even setup e-mail accounts in the built in mail application if you have tablet mode switched on 1280×800 tablets as the taskbar cover’s the buttons at the bottom of the window.

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  2. Lin

    I’m looking for a shortcut to switch between the two modes. In Win8 I could switch by hitting the Windows key, why is it so complicated now? (Do I need another app for that? WHY???)

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Let me see if it is possible to create a shortcut.

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  3. DeFu

    What’s more frustrating is there doesn’t appear to be a way to permanently disable Tablet mode for desktops that don’t even have a touch screen. My spouse accidentally switched their desktop to Tablet mode. And the notification center wasn’t visible, I had to reboot, (still stuck in tablet mode) which killed all the work they had been doing, and then notification center came back up, and was able to turn off tablet mode. Until they accidentally turn it back on…Grrr….

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  4. gil

    I do support for desktop computers for several people and I had to reset a customer computer twice .
    The windows 10 went to tablet mode and the customer (an old person) couldn’t use the computer. I did some research on google and I couldn’t find what happened, so I ended up resetting the computer since system restore took 2 hours and failed.
    I did some more research and I found out that there’s a shortcut to enable to tablet mode.
    What was happening the user was trying to use shift+a to enter A (capital letter) and pressed the wrong combination (win+a) instead.
    Bottom line, to enable tablet mode in windows 10: start, settings, in the setting search box type tablet mode than switch to on or off and of course the shortcut is win+a and select tablet mode.

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