Friday, March 20, 2020

I finally found a use case for the Surface Pen (after 4 years)

I’ve been using Surface Pro’s since the Pro 3 and I know have a Pro 6. I have always liked the form factor of it and each one of them came with a Surface pen. Sure, I’ve tested the pen for fun and used it occasionally to sign something, but in the end I’m a laptop guy, not a tablet guy when it comes to work. So the pens have trustfully followed along in my back back never being used.

Until now that is!

In my home office I have opted to get a speaker phone as wearing a headset for longer periods of time is uncomfortable. The advantage with cabled headsets is that they have a mute/unmute button on the cord, allowing you to sit back and toggle the microphone on and off based on the conversation.

With a speaker phone I can still mute and unmute. Doing so requires me to stretch over to the speaker, not having the button easily in my hand. When using Microsoft Teams, I can use a keyboard shortcut shift-alt-m, but that requires the application to be active and is a bit too quirky.

You probably see where this is going :)

The solution is pretty simple. Being a programmer I browsed around and found out how to programmatically toggle a microphone on/off. You can find the C# code over at (I did look at NIRCMD, but it mutes speaker as well as mic when devices have the same names.)

As the program is a console application, I browsed to the .exe file, and created a shortcut for it as shortcuts can be set to be run minimized. The .exe takes the parameter of a string matching the name of your microphone device (if you have more) or “all” to toggle each one.


The last step is to configure pressing the eraser button on the Surface pen to launch this program.


Now I can relax back in my chair, not touching the keyboard, and mute/unmute myself as needed :)