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Switch off windows tablet screen without suspending

posted Aug 12, 2015, 1:38 PM by Juan Jose Garcia-Ripoll   [ updated Aug 12, 2015, 1:44 PM ]
Windows tablets still behave very much like laptops in that some actions that are natural in the Android / iPad world do not come preconfigured but still can be done.

One such action is to switch of the screen, by closing the tabled lid, without making it sleep. A typical situation when this is needed is when listening to music in the tablet: you do not need the screen on and switching it off can save some power.

It is also quite typical that Android tablets and iPads have a "screen-off" button that lock the computer and disable the screen, so that you can put the device in a handbag and continue listening to music or receiving phone calls.

But how do you do that with a Windows tablet? If you close the lid of a Windows tablet it will enter sleep mode and no such device has a "screen off" button. Or do they? Well. the fact is that all this is quite hidden and you need at least two tweaks to achieve it.

Tweak 1: closing the lid does not power off the device

  1. One the battery icon, click with the right button to open "Energy options". Alternatively, through the control panel, in "Hardware and sound" click on the energy button.
  2. There will be an energy plan selected and in blue you will see a link to change the configuration of the plan. Click it
  3. Now you will see options to automatically switch off the screen and suspend the device after some inactive time. This is not relevant for our purposes. Instead click on the advanced configuration link. You should see something like the picture below
  4. In this new window, search for "Buttons..."  and then "Action when closing the lid" (the names may change as I am freely translating from the Spanish version). Here you should select the option "Nothing" of not doing anything.
After this, you can close the lid without problems: the computer will keep running until any inactivity period causes it to suspend or hybernate. In most tablets screen will also switch off automatically when closing the lid due to the proximity sensors installed close to the camera (It works in my Lenovo Helix). If not, you need to continue reading.

Tweak 2: Switch screen off

The simplest method is to rewire the power button to do something else. You should follow steps 1 to 3 from the previous section and then
  • In the "Buttons..." section change the action for the power / start button to "Switch screen off".
After this, the button will behave similarly to the iPad or Android button, not powering off the device but simply locking the device and switching off the screen.  Pressing the power button again will switch the screen back on and allow you to continue working with the tablet.