An Introduction to Windows Ink Workspace

 Jan 20, 2017

For a long long time now I have always liked the idea of a smartphone/tablet/ touchscreen device with an interactive pen – it just seems so intuitive to me. And yes I have owned quite a number of devices over the years and bought them specifically for the stylus, but the practical implementation of said stylus never seemed to quite live up to the ideal, so when I updated my Windows 10 Surface Pro 3 to the latest anniversary update, I initially ignored the new Windows Ink Workspace as just another fad or gimmick. But when I recently updated to the new Surface Book (see my previous blog Geek Time is back baby!) I decided to check out Windows Ink Workspace – after all the Surface Book includes the pen!

And boy was I surprised and impressed – not only is Windows Ink finally a product that delivers in a huge way, but also shows off what Windows 10 is all about – what I call intuitive productivity.

Windows Ink Workspace is a neat tool that allows you to interact with a host of applications in a way we are used to using since we first learnt how to write and draw with a crayon in kindergarten – albiet now with a stylus “pen”. With one press of the button on the end of the “pen” (or by clicking the “Pen and Ink” icon in the system tray) I can call up the Windows Ink Workspace and select 1 of the default applications – Sticky Notes, Sketchpad, screen Sketch, a list of recently used Ink compatible apps and even a suggested Ink compatible App from the Windows Store. With a double click I get a screen capture in the Screen Sketch App that allows me to edit/crop/label the screenshot and then either save to a file or share with my Mail App, Facebook, Dropbox, or save as a reminder with Cortana etc. A long press brings up Sticky Notes. These are the defaults, but you can go into Settings/Devices/Pen and Windows Ink and change any of the button press combination’s to whatever you want. You want to use the pen button to launch Cortana, a Classic or Universal App? No problem, just select your choice in the pull down box under your desired button press action.

Hint – if you don’t have a pen at the moment, try right-clicking the task bar and choose the “Show Windows Workspace button from the pop-up menu.

And the default Apps are great too:

Sticky Notes: Has been around for a while, but has now been updated and made Ink compatible. looks just like the yellow (or pink or blue) paper versions on your screen – but type in a phone number and watch the colour change to blue. That means you can click/tap on it to call the number (using Skype). Type a list (grocery list, component list, wish list etc.) and see an item grey out when you cross it off. Write an appointment details and when you click/tap it will use Cortana to set a Reminder. It will even check the current stock market info or flight info if you write the stock code or flight code and then tap on it!

Sketchpad and Screen Sketch: As Microsoft say, Sketchpad is “a white space for your ideas and creations”. A great but simple to use freehand drawing tool and my favourite tool is the onscreen ruler for those of us who cannot draw a straight line to save ourselves! With Screen Sketch you can bring up a map, double click the pen and you have a screenshot you can edit and crop and draw upon (the favoured route or highlight the destination etc.) and then select Mail or Dropbox or Facebook etc. to send it to your friends – simple and easy!

Recently Used: this brings up a list of your most recently used Apps that are Ink (ie Pen) compatible.

Suggested: this section presents Ink compatible Apps from the Windows Store for your review or selection. It even know which Apps you already have so it will not suggest something you have already installed! Or click on this section to bring up the windows store already filtered to show you all the Ink compatible Apps.

Of course the default Apps listed above are absolutely astounding, but you can use Windows Ink with so many more applications, both Microsoft (eg Office, Edge browser etc.) and third Party Apps such as Adobe Illustrator. Imagine your favourite app being able to recognise handwriting – and NOT recognising your palm when you rest it on the screen while drawing.

So give the Windows Ink Workspace a try and check out Sticky Notes and Sketchpad etc., see how Windows Ink interfaces and works well with your favourite apps, and see for yourself how Windows Ink can make you more “intuitively productive”!


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About the Author:

Gordon Cowser  

With over 22 years real world and training experience, Gordon is our most senior IT Infrastructure trainer. His expertise includes but is not limited to; Microsoft Server and Client OS, Messaging, Collaboration, Active Directory and Network Infrastructure. Gordon also specialises in SharePoint technologies training in both technical and end user aspects. With his extensive skill-set he brings a thorough mentoring capability to the classroom where he can advise on technical issues and challenges often beyond the scope of the course curriculum. A very approachable and experienced training professional, he has the ability to establish credibility fast with students at all levels.

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