FIX: Surface Pen tilt feature is not working on Windows 10

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
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  • As awesome as it may be, the Surface Pen's Tilt feature can give you headaches every now in a while.
  • If you're not able to enjoy this functionality, verify the app compatibility, and make sure you're running a fully-compatible tool along with your Stylus such as Adobe Illustrator.
  • Check out our Adobe Illustrator section to find out all you need to know about this tool.
  • Don't forget about the almighty pen. Explore our Surface Pen page for more useful insights.
Surface Pen

Steps to fix Surface Pen tilt issues

  1. Install Adobe Illustrator
  2. Check app compatibility
  3. Check for updates
  4. Adjust Pen sensitivity
  5. Adjust brush settings

One of the key takeaways of the Surface Pen is its Tilt feature. The reason is obvious too as it gives users newer abilities to let loose their creativity.

In fact, the Tilt feature will let you create the same effect as say, shading, edging, and so on. And the technique is similar too as all that you need to do is to hold the pen at about 45-degree angle to create the brushing effect.

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However, so much for all the amazing effects that the Tilt functionality can bring along, there also are instances when users complained of the feature not working with their Surface Pen.

But then, getting things back on track isn’t too big a chore either as a few simple steps is all it would take to enable the Tilt functionality once again.

How to restore Tilt functionality on Surface Pen?

1. Install Adobe Illustrator

As you’re about to see below, compatibility is quintessential for this feature to work as expected. This is why you recommend you use a fully compatible, amazing editor along with your Surface Pen such as Adobe Illustrator.

The Surface pen’s precision, fluidity, and full pressure sensitivity are guaranteed in the Illustrator.

Running Adobe Illustrator on a Surface Pro device does more than allowing you to create vector artwork, it also provides a workspace optimized for touch. And the stylus is a big part of that.

The Surface Pen works seamlessly in the Illustrator enabling you to create rounded edges objects and adjustable curved paths. You can even hover it over the align tool to get a preview of your canvas.

Download Adobe Illustrator here

2. Check app compatibility

The Tilt functionality is app dependent, which means you will get to see the effect only if the app supports the same.

Some other apps that are compatible with the Surface Pen include Sketchable, Mental Canvas, DrawBoard PDF, StaffPad, and Plumbago.

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Of course, this isn’t the most exhaustive list so that there might still be few other apps compatible with the Surface Pen and all of its features. If you aren’t able to use the Tilt feature, check if the app is compatible with the new Surface Pen.


 FIX: Surface Pen drags the canvas around in Photoshop? Follow these steps to fix it in no time.


3. Check for updates

Make sure you are running the latest versions of the relevant software as older versions have often been found to interfere with the Surface Pen performance.

So if you’re using Surface Pro or Surface Book 2, for instance, ensure both the devices are running the latest versions of Windows 10.

Also, check for updates if you are owning any Surface devices other than the two listed above.

4. Adjust Pen sensitivity

Adjusting Pen sensitivity too has been found to enable the tilt feature. Here is how you do it.

  • Launch the Surface App. You can do that simply by typing Surface in the taskbar search box. Alternatively, you can also search it manually via the Start button.
  • In the Surface App, select the Pen icon. Thereafter, adjust the pen sensitivity by following the on-screen instructions.

5. Adjust brush settings

Oftentimes it has been found that the Tilt feature has always been working, although users didn’t get to visualize it due to an improper brush setting.

Refer to the individual app documentation to make changes to the brush settings so that the tilt effect becomes visible.


This should be all that you might need to do if the Tilt function on your Surface Pen isn’t working. Let us know which solution helped you restore your Pen’s functionality in the comments section below.

FAQ: Learn more about Microsoft Surface devices and Adobe apps

  • Can you use a stylus in Adobe Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is indeed fully optimized for touch input and compatible with digital pens combining pressure-sensitive and precision capacities that accelerate workflows while conferring a fluid and accurate use.

  • Can you use Adobe on Microsoft Surface?

Adobe Creative Cloud products interact seamlessly with Microsoft Surface devices such as Surface Pro or Surface Book 2 among others.

  • Does surface Pen work with Photoshop?

Indeed, the Surface Pen is a feature that Photoshop users can enjoy in order to edit their pictures more naturally and fluidly.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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