How to turn off the Surface keyboard backlight

Martin Brinkmann
May 31, 2017
Updated • Mar 14, 2019

When it comes to saving battery, one of the things that you can do that is effective is to turn off the keyboard backlight of your Surface device. Note that other mobile devices will benefit from this as well, but that they may or may not support functionality to turn off the lighting of the keyboard.

The Surface Pro ships with a sensor built-in that will activate the light on the keyboard to highlight the keys better. This is a useful feature as it helps you identify the keys on the keyboard which may be an issue in low-light environments.

This is not much of an issue if the Surface device is connected to a power outlet, but if it runs on battery, you will notice that the lighting makes the battery drain faster.

The guys over on Linus Tech Tips ran battery saving tests recently which concluded that turning off the keyboard backlight extends battery use before you need to recharge by about 16%.

Other beneficial battery saving tweaks included:

  • Removing mouse and keyboard peripherals (20%-30% longer battery life on a single charge)
  • Turning down the brightness of the display to 50% (16% longer battery life, turning it further own is less efficient).

Turn off the Surface Keyboard backlight

surface keyboard backlight

The Surface keyboard backlight turns on and off automatically using the built-in sensor. You have controls however to toggle the backlight manually as well, but it may not be available on older versions of the Surface keyboard.

The first two keys next to the Esc-key on the keyboard above, those with the function keys F1 and F2, control the keyboard backlight on the Surface device. If you just tap on the keys however, you will notice that nothing happens. Or, to be more precise, that you press F1 or F2, and don't toggle the keyboard lighting functionality.

You need to hold down on the Fn-key to access the special keys of the Surface keyboard. Fn is the function key that enables the underlying functionality. You may use it to control all special keyboard shortcuts that you see there (such as increasing or decreasing the volume, or toggling audio).

So, this is how you turn the backlight of the keyboard on or off:

  • Increase the keyboard backlight on with Fn-F2
  • Decrease the keyboard backlight off with Fn-F1

Activating the special keys increases or decreases the keyboard backlight on the Surface keyboard. You may need to activate the key multiple times to turn it off completely, to make it less bright, or brighter.


If you need to squeeze the maximum battery duration out of your Surface device, you need to consider turning off the backlight keyboard of the Surface. While that may not be an option at all times, for instance in dark environments that make keys hard to identify, it is usually possible to at least turn the brightness of the lights down.

Now You: Do you have other power saving tips for mobile computers?

How to turn off the Surface keyboard backlight
Article Name
How to turn off the Surface keyboard backlight
Find out how to turn off the keyboard backlight of the Surface, or change its brightness, to improve battery life of the device when it runs on battery.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Mayu said on May 1, 2021 at 4:29 am

    None of the options listed here have worked for me. I don’t know what other options to use.

  2. Pujee said on December 15, 2020 at 12:16 am

    Thank you all

  3. Force for Good said on August 28, 2020 at 5:35 am

    The “Fn-F7” key answer sets keyboard brightness for my Surface 2. The key steps through 3 levels of brightness, then off, and repeats.

  4. Renee said on July 31, 2020 at 3:21 am

    If none of these options works for you. Try CONTROL F2 for a Surface PRo 6. That is what worked for me.

  5. Kelly said on March 14, 2019 at 7:11 am

    To turn keyboard backlight on/off mine uses Fn (+ F1/F2), not Alt… Was trying for ages to figure out why it wasn’t working! Thought I would post in case others are having the same issue.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 14, 2019 at 7:36 am

      You are right, thank you!

  6. Frederick G Bashara said on March 13, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    The screen light is controlled by depressing the F1 and F2 keys along with the Alt key, however the keyboard lights do not go off or dim, why not.

    1. Scott said on July 13, 2019 at 4:10 pm

      on my surface, F1 and F2 control screen brightness. F7 toggles the backlight on the keyboard. Mine has 3 brightness settings and off and the f7 toggles between those modes.

      1. Jenni said on October 26, 2020 at 3:37 pm

        Thank you Scott! :D :D I’ve just picked up this laptop and it was already driving me bonkers as I can’t see the keys!

      2. Paul Glassman said on July 4, 2020 at 6:22 am

        Thank you, Scott. You’re one of the few to offer a solution that works. So much misinformation from others.

      3. Mr. said on May 4, 2020 at 3:39 am

        This is the correct answer for Surface Pro 6

      4. Mr.Thomas said on October 23, 2019 at 11:47 pm

        Thank you. F7 key toggling between 3 brightness settings for the keyboard backlight works great on the Surface Pro 6 Type Cover keyboard.

      5. Ed Thomas said on November 16, 2019 at 6:13 pm

        THANK YOU! At last a valid answer to my problem!

  7. LorraineT said on November 22, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks so much! it was really difficult for me to see the keyboard symbols on my Surface, turning the backlight off solved it. :)

  8. Yuliya said on May 31, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Control Panel\Hardware and Sound\Power Options > Change plan settings > Advanced

    Processor power management
    Minimum = 00
    Maximum = 50

    Note these values represent the percentage of your CPU’s multiplier. You can use something like CPU-z to see the values which your CPU supports, depending on the CPU you may want to choose something between 30 and 50. The idea is to not let the CPU raise it’s multiplier high enough to need the increased power needs for said higher values.

    [2] NVIDIA only
    Search for a program called nvidiaInspector (doeanload it from Softpedia or Guru3D). The author is Orbmu2k.
    You can do a few things with it to make Nvidia GPU’s consume significantly less power than usual. First, right click on “Show overclocking” button and you have a power saving option.
    Second you can run the program with this argument:
    nvidiaInspector.exe” -forcePState:0,12
    to force the GOU in its lowest power state. Use:
    nvidiaInspector.exe” -forcePState:0,16
    to revert back. (or restart, this setting doesn’t stick)

    Disable Intel’s integrated GPU, it’s useless and you can make Nvida GPU consume a lot less power. Alternately you can go further and enforce a 30fps global limit (also in NvidiaInspector, click on the key/screwdriver button).

    Note: NvidiaIsnpector is portable. Version requires NET 3.5 (enabled on Win7 by default). Newer versions require a combination of 3.5 and 4.

    You can do a few software-wise things as well:
    – disable smooth scroll in browser
    – disable transparency in Windows 7 (do not dsable Aero completely)
    – mute speakers/microphone, or bring them to 0 (this cuts off the power)
    – the more animations you can do with disabled the better (disable showing of windows contents while dragging if you plan to move around your windows a lot)
    – unless your outside brightness to lowest possible should be just fine
    – the less programs open you have the better (including useless placebo-tier ones like antivirus programs)
    – set screen timeout to a lower value like two or three minutes
    – go to Device Manager and check whether or not your wireless card’s power saving features are enabled/auto

    [1] and [2] will bring the largest gains as it will also eliminate that fluctuation of “time remaining” as you use your laptop. Power consumption should be minimal regardess of what you do (even watching a 720p movie).

    Speaking of movie, use a player that supports Cuda decoding (like MPC-HC, look in settings, needs to be configure to use it). It is the most power efficient one. Nvidia-only.

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