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The Surface Pen is a handy tool that lets you do cool things on your Surface PC. You can use it as a mouse and a keyboard. By default, your pen will act as a mouse.

As one of Microsoft’s more recent features, the Surface Pen adds a layer of productivity that you don’t have access to on a traditional desktop or laptop computer.

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    Who Benefits From Using Surface Pens?

    • Architects, designers, and other creative industries use it to sketch and draw.
    • Builders and engineers who are used to walking around with a pen or pencil behind their ear.
    • Office professionals, salespeople, entrepreneurs.
    • Basically, everyone.

    There are several features built into the tool, including:

    • Signing documents.
    • Taking notes.
    • Completing forms.
    • Writing on PowerPoint slides.

    However, there are so many more things you can do with it. To add functionality to your pen, third-party developers have created innovative apps.

    To maximize what your Surface Pen can do for you, look at the following free Surface pen apps:

    • Plumbago
    • Autodesk SketchBook
    • Bamboo Paper
    • Paint 3D
    • CollaBoard
    • Fresh Paint
    • Index Cards
    • Journalist
    • Xodo
    • Zen


    Plumbago is a digital notebook Surface pen app that enables you to use creative calligraphy styles, add pictures with annotations, and organize your notebook.

    Plumbago image

    With Plumbago, you can:

    • Use elegant color palettes, useful papers, and realistic inks.
    • Enhance your drawings with calligraphy.
    • Easily navigate all pages in your notebook.
    • Adjust the level of smoothness in your handwriting.
    • Highlight, annotate and trace image files.
    • Save a page as an image.
    • Create notebooks in portrait orientation.
    • Save your notebook as a PDF file to import into other applications, archive, or share with others.
    • Sync your notebooks across all devices and store them in the cloud.

    Autodesk SketchBook

    Autodesk SketchBook is a sketching and drawing app with a large selection of tools, surfaces, and brushes that anyone can use.

    Autodesk SketchBook image

    Creative people use sketching to work out an idea. With Autodesk SketchBook, you can use the powerful tools to take a concept to a fully finished piece of artwork.

    Built for designers and graphic artists, Autodesk Sketchbook is a pro-level drawing program. Graphic professionals will get greater control over their artistic projects.

    Bamboo Paper

    Turn your device into a paper notebook with Bamboo Paper. Sketch, draw, and take notes anywhere at any time with this app.

    Bamboo Paper image

    Some of the additional benefits of Bamboo Paper are:

    • Express your creativity to set any color and create a custom color palette from 36 color swatches.
    • Fit more notes on a page and write or draw a fine line with the zoom function.
    • Add photos or images to your page and write on top of them.
    • Express yourself naturally via the tilt function that detects the angle of the pen.

    Paint 3D

    Bring your ideas to life and unleash your creativity with the Paint 3D Surface pen app. Produce and construct 3D objects with your pen instead of 2D flat illustrations.

    Paint 3D image

    Even if you are not a designer or an artist, you can have fun trying out some of the features such as:

    • Sketching a 3D doodle drawing.
    • Using Magic Select to create cut-outs from your favorite pictures.
    • Selecting lighting options, filters and realistic textures like soft grass and hardwood for your creation.


    CollaBoard is a digital whiteboard app where users can transform their way of working by bringing real-time capabilities to any Windows device.

    CollaBoard image

    Some of the functions you can perform with CollaBoard are:

    • Holding virtual meetings.
    • Organizing teamwork and digital workshops.
    • Coordinating projects with remote people anywhere at any time on any Windows 10 device.
    • Using templates such as Design Thinking, Mind Mapping, and Business Model Canvas.

    Fresh Paint

    If you want to explore the drawing capabilities in Windows 10, Fresh Paint is a Surface pen app that will walk you through the process.

    Fresh Paint image

    Turn photos into stunning paintings, create original artwork, or use an activity pack to get started quickly. Create anything with Fresh Paint’s features including:

    • Painting or drawing with pen, watercolor, pencil, oil, or pastel.
    • Using your camera or importing photos and images to paint.
    • Instantly drying your paint on the canvas by clicking the fan button.
    • Correcting mistakes easily with the undo button or the eraser tool.

    Index Cards

    Get organized with double-sided Index Cards. Create an unlimited number of cards that can be marked up with your pen. 

    There is a zoom function that enables you to include a lot of information on each card.

    Index Cards image

    Take ink notes and organize them in stacks just like you would with regular index cards. If you want advanced pro features such as group folders, card shuffling, or enhanced navigation, you can try the upgrade for a 14-day free trial.

    The upgrade is a one-time lifetime fee of $19.99.


    Chronicle your experiences through writing with Journalist. Use a free-form canvas with several paper choices, rulers, and two-dimensional shapes to keep a digital journal.

    Journalist image

    Take advantage of some of the robust features such as:

    • Drag and drop files onto journal pages.
    • Copy, cut, and paste elements onto your pages.
    • Export your journal in various formats such as HTML pages, videos, or images.
    • Create horizontal parallax scrolling or vertical pages.
    • Use the Isometric drawing tool to create 3D drawings.
    • Share many different content formats from other apps including .png, .mp4, HTML, and .gif.


    Edit, view, and annotate PDF files in Xodo’s PDF Reader. Fill out forms easily, highlight anything, write on any PDF file and save it as a new file.

    Xodo image

    Some of the other features of Xodo include:

    • Cropping pages.
    • Bookmarking pages for future use.
    • Reading PDFs in dark environments with night mode feature.
    • Setting the view to thumbnails, single or double-page, or continuous scroll.
    • Searching for text, zooming in at high levels, and rotating pages.


    Escape from the real world, leave your worries behind, and relax with Zen: a digital coloring book for adults.

    Zen image
    • Create beautiful art without having to buy art supplies.
    • Choose from custom colors, different designs, texture and blending options.
    • Print, save, and share your work on social media.

    Zen is a free Surface pen app, but you can purchase additional books if you want access to more projects.

    Try using some of the suggested apps above. Which ones are best for you will depend upon your specific needs. From filling out forms to taking notes, using apps will get the most out of your Surface Pen.

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