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11 secrets you didn't know about your new Surface Book or Surface Pro 4

Gordon Mah Ung | Oct. 28, 2015
We'll tell you about the buttons you might miss, the settings worth seeking out, and some other hidden tricks.

Surface 3 dock 
Although unclear, Microsoft has said previously it would issue a spacer to let the older Surface Pro 3 dock work with the Surface Pro 4. This is the Surface 3 dock, but you get the idea. Credit: Mark Hachman

7. Go into the UEFI

If you’re curious about how to enter the system’s UEFI to muck around with the boot order or turn off the cameras, you can do that by shutting down the system. Now press the button to increase the volume and hold it while pressing and then releasing the power button. Keep holding the volume rocker and it should boot directly into the UEFI, where you can see the asset tag, the firmware information as well as the serial number of the laptop. More importantly: you can disable Secure Boot from here too.

Linux Tux 
Tux, the Linux mascot. Credit: Larry Ewing, Simon Budig, Anja Gerwinski

6. Linux? Sure why not?

By going into the UEFI, you can disable Secure Boot, which tells the Surface Book whether to check for a certificate from the OS before booting. You can set it to “Microsoft only,” which obviously limits it only to signed Microsoft operating systems, or “Microsoft & 3rd party CA,” which boots to third-party UEFI software. The final option is “none,” which should let you load any Linux OS of choice. Just remember you’re on the hook to track down the drivers for the Surface device before you proceed. But if you’re a Linux user, you’re probably already in the advanced category, and there is no greater sense of glory than planting a Penguin on a Microsoft-branded device.

5. Clipboarding only

Want to go commando and just bring your Surface Book’s Clipboard on a trip? There may be no USB ports, but you can charge the Clipboard by just plugging the Surface Connector into the bottom of the Clipboard.

Microsoft’s nifty new Surface Dock works with the Surface Book’s Clipboard mode too. That means you can plug the 13.5-inch screen Clipboard into the dock and use the Dock’s gigabit ethernet, USB ports, and Displayports, too.

dsc03200 
You can charge the Surface Book’s Clipboard section directly by plugging the charger into its base. Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

4. Swap bases

Microsoft doesn’t document it, but you can actually swap the Clipboard section of a Surface Book that came without a GPU onto a base that came with it. That means you can take your cheaper Core i5 model without GPU and swap it with your boss’s Core i7 version that has the GPU. It’ll download a few drivers, and voila, you now magically have a discrete GPU. And since your boss probably doesn’t know the difference anyway, you can, umm, just keep it that way right?

 

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