Full Fix: Surface Pen not writing but buttons work

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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Affiliate Disclosure

  • The Surface Pen is a great tool that works perfectly with Microsoft Surface.
  • One major issue with the Surface Pen can be caused by a problem with your drivers.
  • For any other problems with your computer or peripherals, check our Tech Troubleshooting page.
  • You can find more information about Surface on our Microsoft Surface section.
Surface Pen not writing buttons work

Microsoft Surface is a great device, but many users reported that Surface Pen is not writing while the buttons on the pen work without any problems. This is a strange issue, and in today’s article, we’ll show you how to fix it.

There are various issues with Surface Pen that can occur, and speaking of issues, here are some common problems reported by users:

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  • Surface Pro 3, 4 Pen not working – Sometimes your Surface Pro pen won’t work at all. This is usually caused by your battery, so make sure that your battery isn’t empty.
  • Surface Pro 4 Pen connected but not writing – This problem can occur due to certain Bluetooth glitches. To fix the problem, simply unpair and pair your pen again.
  • Surface Pen not writing on screen, in Word, OneNote – Sometimes your pen might not write on the screen or in other applications such as Word and OneNote. To fix the problem, you need to disable Intel devices in Device Manager and enable them again.
  • Surface Pen is paired but not writing – This is a relatively common problem with Surface Pen, and you should be able to fix it using one of our solutions.

What can I do if the Surface Pen is not working?


  1. Update your drivers
  2. Unpair your pen with the Surface and connect it again
  3. Check your battery
  4. Restart your Surface device
  5. Run the troubleshooter
  6. Disable and re-enable Intel(R) HD Graphics 520
  7. Reboot the pen
  8. Install the latest updates

1. Update your drivers

Sometimes issues with Surface Pen can occur if there’s a problem with your drivers. If one of your drivers is out of date, certain components might not work properly, and that will cause this and many other problems to appear.

In order to ensure that everything is working properly, we strongly suggest keeping all your drivers up to date. You can download the latest drivers manually, using Device Manager.

Alternatively, you can use third-party tools such as DriverFix to quickly and automatically update your drivers, so you should definitely try this.

First, download and install DriverFix. As soon as you start the tool, it will automatically scan your system for driver updates but also for missing or malfunctioning ones.

DriverFix automatically update drivers The process will take a little bit of time but when it’s done, you only need to perform a formality.

You have the option to install only one ore more drivers one by one by ticking the corresponding boxes or check the Select All box from the top and install all the drivers in one step.

DriverFix

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The Surface Pen driver will be installed in just a few seconds using DriverFix but the tool will fix all driver potential problems.
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2. Unpair your pen with the Surface and connect it again

  1. Open the Settings app. The fastest way to do that is to press the Windows Key + I.
  2. When the Settings app opens, head over to the Devices section.
    Surface Pro 4 Pen not working
  3. In the left pane select Bluetooth. Locate your pen in the left pane and click the Remove button. Now click on Yes to confirm.

Note: Once the pairing process is completed, your Surface Pen will start writing again. Bear in mind that this is just a workaround, so you might have to repeat this solution if the problem reappears.


3. Check your battery

If your Surface Pen is not writing, but other buttons work, the issue might be your battery.

In case you don’t know, Surface Pen uses two batteries, one of the pen and one for the buttons, so if the pen isn’t working, it’s rather likely that your battery is empty.

To fix this problem, simply replace the battery and check if that solves the problem for you. Many users reported that the battery was the problem, but after replacing it, the issue was permanently resolved.

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4. Restart your Surface device

Perform a force restart

  1. Press and hold the Power button on your Surface for 30 seconds. Make sure that the device is completely turned off.
  2. Now press and hold the Volume Up and the Power button together for about 15 seconds. Your screen should flash the Surface logo. This is perfectly normal.
  3. Release the buttons and wait for about 10 seconds. Press and release the power button to turn the Surface back on.

5. Run the troubleshooter

  1. Open the Settings app. When the Settings app opens, head over to the Update & Security section.
    Surface Pen not writing on screen
  2. Select Troubleshoot from the left pane. Choose Hardware and Devices from the list and click the Run the troubleshooter button.
    Surface Pro 3 Pen not working
  3. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the troubleshooter.

Note: If the issue persists, you might want to try running the Bluetooth troubleshooter as well. Keep in mind that troubleshooters are designed to fix some common problems and glitches so they might not be able to fix your problem.


6. Disable and re-enable Intel(R) HD Graphics 520

  1. Press Win + X menu and choose Device Manager from the list. You can do that simply by right-clicking the Start button.
    Surface Pen is paired but not writing
  2. Locate the Intel(R) HD Graphics 520 on the list, right-click it and choose Disable device from the menu.
    Surface Pen not writing in Word
  3. Click Yes when the confirmation dialog will appear.
    Surface Pro 4 Pen connected but not writing
  4. Wait for a few seconds after disabling the device, right-click it again, and choose Enable from the menu.

Note: Bear in mind that you might have to repeat this solution every time the issue appears.

Some users recommend disabling and enabling the Intel(R) Precise Touch Device and also disabling and enabling their Surface Pen, so you might want to try that as well.


7. Reboot the pen

Surface pen bugs

If the Surface Pen is not writing but the buttons work, you might be able to fix the issue simply by rebooting the pen. This is incredibly simple to do, and you just need to press and hold the pen button for about 10 seconds.

After doing that, the pen will reboot and the problem should be resolved.


8. Install the latest updates

  1. Open the Settings app and go to the Update & Security section.
  2. In the right pane, click the Check for updates button.
    Surface Pro 4 Pen connected but not writing

Windows will now check for available updates and download them in the background. Once the updates are downloaded, restart your PC to install the updates. After installing the latest updates, check if the problem is still there.


Updates and Settings is not opening? Fix the problem with this excellent guide


If Surface Pen is not working on your PC, that can be a big problem, but we hope that you managed to fix this issue by using one of our solutions.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave us a line in the Comments section below.

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

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