Surface Pro 3 – Annotating The Screen While Presenting

06-09-2014 15-56-16Although I don’t do a huge number of presentations, when I do I like to annotate on the screen as I’m talking.  I’m doing this in order to sketch out an idea to promote a more natural discussion, using PowerPoint more as a whiteboard, or I’m scribbling on the screen to draw attention to key points or parts of a diagram.  Even though PowerPoint includes built in annotation support, I find it clumsy to use and constrained because I can’t annotate all apps.  My preference is to use Zoomit instead, a free utility from the Microsoft Sysinternals site.  It’s fast and simple to use and it allows me to annotate on top of any application and the windows desktop.

Unfortunately to use it I need to initiate it with a keystroke, like CONTROL ALT F2 and cancel it by pressing the ESCAPE key.  If I’m using the Surface Pro 3 with the keyboard attached this is fine, but if it’s detached and I’m just using the tablet I’m stuck, well perhaps not.

Fortunately there’s an app in the Windows Store called TouchMe Gesture Studio that allows me to associate these keystrokes with custom gestures.  This works incredibly well, as follows:

If I want to annotate I do a quick swipe down the screen with two fingers.  Then I can scribble away to my hearts content until I’m finished, at which point I do a quick swipe up the screen with two fingers and all my scribbles have gone.

Because I’m often presenting in PowerPoint there are a few other gestures that make sense.  A quick three finger swipe right will go into presenter mode, to get out of presenter mode you press ESCAPE and I already have a gesture for that, a quick swipe up with two fingers.

The possibilities are endless and the developer has provided a whole host of their favourites gestures, pre-defined out of the box.  For now I’m just sticking with a couple of them, the three finger swipe up, to show the on screen keyboard and three finger swipe down to hide it again.

Using a different tool it’s also possible to redefine the function of the volume up and down keys and even the window key, but I’m saving that experiment for another day.

I’m writing a series of posts about my experiences with the Surface Pro 3 which can be found here

The photo shows the TouchMe App with my gestures defined.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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