OverDrive for Microsoft Surface (Windows 8.1)


The Microsoft Surface is a tablet/laptop crossover that runs on Windows 8.1.  [ed. As of 12/21/15 our Surface runs Windows 10, so some instructions on this page may differ.] The removable keyboard includes a mouse interface to supplement the stylus/finger touchscreen input.  Windows 8.1 has a dual personality, which can make some operations confusing.  On one hand, there is a desktop interface that looks much like the Windows we are used to, minus the Start menu.  When working in this interface, the device feels and acts like a laptop.  On the other hand, the Start screen, which replaced the Start menu, is optimized for touch and looks similar to the Windows Phone interface.  In this view, programs are arranged on “tiles”, which the user can resize and rearrange.  Some tiles, such as news and stocks, can be made “live.”  This allows information to be updated in real time on your screen.  In addition to providing access to pre-installed software, the Start screen is home to any apps installed from the Windows Store.  Windows Store apps cannot be accessed in desktop view, but desktop apps can be opened from the Start screen. [Windows 10 combined the two views into a single interface.]

For the purposes of this module, we will be installing and accessing OverDrive from the Windows Store to the Start screen.  It is also possible to use the desktop versions of OverDrive and Adobe Digital Editions to enjoy e-content on the Surface, and that process is covered in the OverDrive Computer module.

Competencies/Tasks for This Device


  • Turn device on and off. Know how to tell when the device is sleeping vs. powered off.
  • Adjust brightness & volume
  • Turn Wi-Fi on/off
  • Turn Bluetooth on/off
  • Turn mobile network on/off (if applicable)
  • Access the internet


  • Navigate the settings to adjust for personal preferences
  • Create Microsoft Account
  • Add an email


  • Take pictures
  • Toggle from pictures to video
  • Toggle front and rear cameras (if applicable)
  • Email pictures
  • Take a screen shot


  • Access/dismiss keyboard
  • Use shift key
  • Use numbers
  • Turn caps on/off
  • Use special characters


  • Install an app
  • Explain the difference between a browser and an app
  • How to close apps
  • Organizing apps
    • Create and move icons
    • Create folders
  • Using the OverDrive app to download, return, and navigate e-books, including bookmarks and comments.

Navigating the Surface

Assume the device is used with the keyboard attached in landscape mode.  Login using the credentials found in the device bag.

  • Press and hold the button on the top right of the Surface to turn it on. To turn it off, swipe in from the right side of the screen and tap settings. Tap the power icon and select “shut down.” If you are in the Start screen, a power button is always present in the upper right of the screen.
  • The device boots into desktop mode. To access the Start screen, press the Windows icon in the lower left corner of the screen.
  • To wake the Surface from a sleeping state, press the power button and swipe up on the screen to unlock.
  • Swipe finger left or right across screen to turn pages/switch screens
  • To enlarge, place thumb and forefinger on the touchscreen, about an inch apart. Spread apart until desired size is reached.
  • To decrease size, place thumb and forefinger on the touchscreen, spread apart. Pull together until desired size is reached.
  • In Start screen mode, tap a tile to open the app. Some apps automatically open in desktop mode, and they are controlled by traditional Windows rules, with icons in the upper right to size and close windows.
  • To see all apps, swipe up slowly from the bottom of the screen. You can sort the alphabetical list or use the search box to find a particular app. Press and hold a program for the option to pin to start, pin to taskbar, or uninstall the program.
  • Swipe down from the top of the screen to close a Start screen app. The screen will return to desktop mode.
  • To split the screen between apps in Start screen mode, swipe down from the top of the screen halfway. The app should turn into an icon under your finger. Drag the app to the left or right to dock it. Tap on the empty half of the screen to select a second app to open. Slide the black bar between the apps to dismiss one and make the other full screen. When you close the full screen app, the dismissed app will open full screen.
  • In some apps, a short swipe up or down will reveal a menu.
  • To see running apps, start to swipe slowly in from the left. The desktop will appear under your finger, but don’t pull it all the way out. When the black line appears on the left edge of the screen, bring your finger back toward the left edge of the screen. The desktop icon will snap into a vertical list of open apps. Drag one to the main screen to open it.
  • Swipe in from the right to access settings, search, sharing, and devices.
  • To customize the Start screen, swipe up from the bottom and select customize. You can group tiles and give them names or drag tiles to other groups. Press and hold a tile to select it. A menu will appear to pin/unpin from the Start screen, pin to the desktop taskbar, uninstall the program, or resize the tile. If the tile can be made “live”, this option will also appear.
  • If you remove the physical keyboard, you can access an on-screen keyboard using the keyboard icon on the lower right of the screen. To dismiss the keyboard, tap the x on the upper right of the keyboard.

Connecting to Wireless

Items in italics only apply to our wireless network.

  1. Swipe in from the right side of the screen and tap “settings.”
  2. Tap the wireless icon and make sure Wi-Fi is toggled on.
  3. Tap “library” network.
  4. The network usage agreement should come up – tap “I agree.”
  5. If another screen or error message comes up, input our web address in the browser. Then, tap the OverDrive icon to prompt the wireless agreement to come up.
  6. Open a web page to confirm.

Surfing the Internet

There are multiple browsers on the Surface, and all have been programmed to open in desktop mode.  This is not the default setting on other devices, and the browser will act like a Start screen app and can be manipulated with the gestures noted in “Navigating the Surface.”

  • Make sure you are connected to a wireless network.
  • Tap the tile for Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.
  • Proceed in desktop mode.

Adding/Deleting an Email Account

There are two methods for receiving email on your Microsoft Surface.  You can download the app from your provider (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.), or you can configure the native email client with information about your accounts.  These instructions are for the second method.

  1. Tap the envelope icon to open the mail app. It may bring you to a Google sign-in window. If the account you want to configure is not a Gmail, tap the arrow next to “connecting to a service” at the top of the screen. Then, select your desired provider.
  2. Sign into your email and click “Accept” if you agree to the permissions the app asks for.
  3. Optional – you can choose to save your password so you don’t need to sign in every time you use the app.
  4. On the next screen, the three dots in the lower right corner open the main menu.
  5. To delete your account, open the app and swipe in from the right. Tap settings, then accounts. Select your email (make sure it is not the Microsoft account). Scroll to the bottom and tap “Remove account.” Confirm whether to remove it from this PC. (“Remove from all PCs” is a syncing feature that can be used when you sign into multiple Windows 8.1 devices with the same Microsoft account.)

Taking a Picture or Movie

  • Tap the camera icon on the Start screen.
  • Tap anywhere on the screen to take the picture. Zoom is not available.
  • Tap the video camera icon to switch to video. Recording starts automatically. Tap the stop icon to end recording.
  • Tap the panoramic icon to start a panoramic shot. Tap again and then pan the area. Tap the check mark when done.
  • To switch cameras, swipe up from the bottom and tap change camera. You can also set timer and exposure settings, or view your camera roll here. Or…
  • Close the camera app by swiping down from the top. Return to the Start screen and tap the photos tile to view the gallery. Open a photo and tap the center to open a menu.
  • To email a picture, open the photos app and go to the library with your picture. Press and drag the picture down slightly to select it. Swipe in from the right and select “share.” Tap “Mail” to start a new email with the photo attached.

Download from the Microsoft Store

This requires logging into the Surface with a Microsoft account.  For the library’s credentials, please see the information card in the device bag.

  • From the Start screen, tap the Store tile.
  • Search using the box in the upper right or browse by category.
  • Tap the app title to see details.
  • Tap the green “install” button. You may be prompted to add a payment method, but you can select “ask me later” to dismiss it.
  • Swipe down to close the store. A shortcut to the app will not be placed on the Start screen automatically. Swipe up from the bottom to open the app list.

Pro tip:  If a patron want to stop the credit card number prompt and they only wish to use free apps, try a number on this page:  http://www.paypalobjects.com/en_US/vhelp/paypalmanager_help/credit_card_numbers.htm. It will pass as a valid card, but will not accept any charges.

OverDrive for Windows 8.1

Watch the video: http://help.overdrive.com/#videos

Download the brochure

App Setup

Steps in italics are only needed on first run.

  1. Tap the Store icon.
  2. Use the search box to find “OverDrive.”
  3. Tap the “install” button.
  4. Open app from Start screen>swipe up.
  5. You will see a prompt to set up an OverDrive account. This is optional, but if you do set one up, you will not need an Adobe ID.
  6. Tap “add a library” and enter our zip code. (tap the box to get a keyboard) Tap search.
  7. Select our library.
  8. On the next screen, tap the star to turn it yellow. This makes Upper Hudson a “favorite.”
  9. Tap the library’s name to access the catalog.
  10. Search and download.
  11. On the first download, you will be prompted to enter an Adobe ID (if you have not set up an OverDrive account). If you do not have an Adobe ID, click the yellow link at the bottom to create one.
  12. Enter the ID and password and tap “Authorize.”
  13. To enjoy the book, tap the title in the app’s main screen.
  14. Press and drag book cover down slightly to select the book and reveal a menu to return and delete title. The menu also has options to sort book and pin books to the start menu.

Navigating E-books in the OverDrive App

  1. Swipe left and right or tap the right or left side of the screen to turn pages.
  2. To return to the main screen from a title, tap the middle of the screen to make the menu appear (or disappear). From this menu, you can also change the font or spacing (options), add or review bookmarks, view the table of contents, jump to different sections of the book, or look up words in a dictionary (more). Select the back button on the top left of the screen to return to the main app screen.
  3. To close OverDrive, swipe down from the top of the screen.

Navigating Audiobooks in the OverDrive App

Please note that WMA titles can only be played in the desktop version of OverDrive Media Console, not the app.  They are separate programs.

  1. When listening to an audiobook, the menus are available at all times. One can pause, fast forward, rewind, rewind 15 seconds, create bookmarks, view book details and the table of contents or set a sleep timer.
  2. To return to the bookshelf view, tap the back arrow in the upper left menu.
  3. To minimize the audiobook and continue to listen while performing other tasks, use the method for splitting the screen outlined in “Navigating the Surface” and dock the app. Slide the black bar to hide the app and continue to work. The audiobook will continue to play. To reopen the OverDrive app, drag it in from the left side of the screen and release it onto the main screen.

Quick Tips

  • Windows 8.1 devices have the option of enjoying e-books in the OverDrive app or using Adobe Digital Editions to read/transfer the title.  If you use the OverDrive app to search and download, your e-book will appear within the app.  If you are in the desktop mode using the browser to download an e-book from http://digitalcollection.uhls.org, the downloaded e-book will show up in Adobe Digital Editions.
  • If OverDrive titles do not download to the app as expected, tap the menu icon on the upper right of the app’s main screen and tap “audiobook.” Make sure auto downloads are enabled. When users engage “airplane mode” on their devices, file downloads get turned off. However, when the device is taken out of airplane mode, the file downloads do not toggle back on automatically.
  • If the battery seems to be draining quickly, try closing some apps. Swipe in slowly from the left until the black bar appears, and then ease the window under your finger back to the left to put the app in the list. When the list of apps comes up, open each and swipe each top to bottom to close it.


  • Download and install the OverDrive app.
  • Download and return an e-book, experimenting with settings.
  • Download and return an audiobook, experimenting with settings.
  • Set up an email account
  • Take a picture or video and email it
  • Delete your email account.
  • Review the competencies above and be sure to experiment with all gestures and settings.

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