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Windows 10 digital ink: All the improvements within the Fall Creators Update

Inking and navigating with a digital pen or stylus within Windows 10 has become easier within the Fall Creators Update for those of you who use a tablet as, you know, a tablet.

The improvements include two major elements: navigation, including using the pen or stylus to select and scroll text; and better interpretation of inked words as text, via a more accurate and responsive handwriting panel. Combined, it’s a love letter of sorts to Surface and other tablet users who use the pen to input data. It’s amazing how well Windows can interpret your chicken-scratch into text that can be edited in Word and elsewhere.

General Windows 10 users won’t be able to take advantage of the new features until the launch of the Fall Creators Update on Oct. 17. (Many of you will still have the older Windows 10 Creators Update for some time unless you manually update.) However, members of Microsoft’s Windows Insiders beta program have been able to experience the new inking experience since Build 16215 in June. Now, you can, too.

Had pen, will travel: Find My Pen

To take advantage of the new inking capabilities, you’ll obviously need a tablet and a stylus, too. If you need to find it, we’ll wait. What, you’ve lost it? Well, Windows can help. 

find my pen Fall creators Update Windows 10 IDG

To find your Surface Pen or stylus, use this Settings menu. Click the link to open the map…

One of the new features of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is “Where’s My Pen,” a feature that will help track down a lost pen—sort of. It operates in the same way Microsoft or Google help to track down a lost phone, by identifying the place where it was used last. Make sure you’ve turned on location services on your tablet, so Windows can find the location on a map.  

Note that Windows won’t find the pen itself; it will simply record the time and location in which it was last used, as well as the location of the tablet that it tapped. Unfortunately, Windows can’t intelligently sense the presence of the pen itself; if it’s fallen behind your desk, Windows won’t be able to help. And, unlike with a phone, Windows can’t command the pen to beep to help you find it.

find my pen location Fall creators Update Windows 10 Mark Hachman / IDG

…which thought the pen was in a nearby town, when it was actually in my hand.

Make sure that the pen is paired, as Windows won’t record the location of the pen unless it’s paired properly. Unfortunately, after all that, Windows failed miserably in actually geo-locating my pen. As the image above illustrates, Microsoft thought it had fallen from my backpack in an alley next to a tattoo parlor in a different city altogether. Sorry, Windows, I was actually holding it.

Why is this important? Because while you can draw a swirl or a squiggle within Word or Paint, the handwriting panel doesn’t work with your finger. You’ll need a digital pen for that.

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