Microsoft Surface Hub Tips and Tricks

By Features PCmag

If you've made the plunge and decided to buy a Microsoft Surface Hub for your office, you might be overwhelmed by the many amazing things it can do to improve business collaboration and communication. In this article, we'll offer five tips and tricks to help you make the most of your massive investment. After all, you just dropped $8,999 on a 55-inch, full HD model or you went big and spent $21,999 on the 84-inch 4K model. Either way, you're going to want to use your new Surface Hub to the absolute fullest.

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For those of you who haven't decided whether or not to buy the Surface Hub, I suggest you read the review, which I've linked to above. For those of you who have absolutely no idea what the Surface Hub is, I suggest you read this primer.

Tip 1: Log Into Office 365 Every Time You Use the Hub
Because the Surface Hub is meant as a collaboration device and not as a personal device, the system gets wiped clean after every use. Your team will use the Surface Hub to run brainstorm sessions, conduct videoconferences, and maybe even play casual games like Crossy Road.

But the Surface Hub wasn't designed to store data, and it wasn't meant to be used as a repository for files and applications. In fact, most companies restrict access to the Windows App Store to a handful of IT managers to ensure only necessary apps are downloaded onto the device. The easiest way to save data from the Surface Hub is to copy and paste your screen into the Surface Hub's whiteboard app and email the PNG file to your team.

Because of this limitation, some of your employees may be discouraged from using the Surface Hub for apps such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel, apps that are designed for long-term use rather than one-off projects and meetings. They shouldn't be. To save any data you create during meetings, first log into your own Microsoft Office 365 environment. Once you've done that, you can save to storage resources there, like Microsoft OneDrive or Microsoft SharePoint.

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Tip 2: Use the Connect App
There's an even easier way to work on traditional long-term-use apps than the scenario I just described. The Surface Hub features a built-in app that's designed to enable you to project your screen onto the Surface Hub with just a few clicks. Here's what that means: you can take your phone, laptop, or tablet, and plaster the small display onto the Surface Hub's 55- and 84-inch screens. If you're using a Microsoft Windows 10 Universal app, the image won't get distorted and you'll be able to see your small screen in a giant format with precise clarity.

From here, you'll be able to copy the screen into the whiteboard app, and mark and edit the copied version of the document or webpage and email it to your team later on.

Tip 3: Take Tons of Screengrabs
Anyone who's used the Surface Hub probably already knows how to take a split-screen screengrab. To recap for those who don't know: While running any app alongside the whiteboard app, you can select the pen icon in the upper right-hand corner of the app. You'll be asked to choose the region you'd like to copy, and then you'll see the image appear in your whiteboard. Easy enough.

But did you know that you can also take a full-screen image of the Surface Hub's display, without the whiteboard appearing in your image? Here's how: Open the whiteboard and then open any other app. Click the full-screen icon of the non-whiteboard app, and the whiteboard app will be minimized. In the upper right-hand corner of the non-whiteboard app's window, click the pen icon and select "Clip All." When you open the whiteboard app, you'll see your entire screen copied onto the whiteboard's canvas. Now you have a full HD or 4K 16x9 image of your Surface Hub's display.

Tip 4: Make Skype for Business Calls to Regular Skype Users
The Surface Hub is meant to make outgoing Microsoft Skype for Business calls to other Skype for Business accounts. But there may come a time when you've got to communicate with someone who doesn't have a Skype for Business account. There are two ways to do this; one is complicated and the other is simple. Let's start with the complicated way.

To enable Skype for Business to plain old Skype calls, have your IT administrator confederate your Skype for Business account with regular Skype. Typically, Skype for Business servers only communicate with other Skype for Business servers, unless they are programmed to accept and enable external communications. This Office support page provides you with multiple external communications scenarios and how you can configure each.

But there's a much simpler way to make this connection happen. Your team members can set up a Skype for Business meeting and have the regular Skype user join the meeting as a guest via the Skype web app. With this trick, guests can see content that is being presented on the Surface Hub, and they can even be given Presenter status to display their remote screen to everyone watching on the Surface Hub.

Tip 5: Clean the Screen Often
The Surface Hub's matte screen is delightful to touch and view but only when the Surface Hub's power is on. We've had the Surface Hub in our office for a couple of weeks; when the Surface Hub is off, you can see a collection of awful, ugly fingerprints. This isn't your typical, "My TV is off and you can see a few smudges" kind of issue. These smudges are dark and plentiful.

Ordinarily this wouldn't be the kind of issue that I'd report about in a tips and tricks feature but, given how much you've paid for the Surface Hub (and given the prominent position it's likely to take up in your office), you're going to want to have it looking as spick-and-span as possible throughout the device's lifetime.

Thankfully, cleaning the surface of the Surface is easy. Microsoft recommends using most over-the-counter glass cleaners or rubbing alcohol to clean the Surface Hub's screen. The company suggests spraying the liquid onto a damp, clean cloth and running the cloth gently over the screen. You'll want to be careful not to drip any of the liquid you use to clean the screen into the Surface Hub's many vents, speakers, microphones, or ports, though.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.