What you need to know
- Two new 'helper' apps help customize Surface Duo behavior.
- Screenshot Snipper makes it easier to share just the screenshot of one display.
- DuoHelper Browser always forces a hyperlink to open in a browser on the second display.
- Both apps are free and made for Surface Duo.
One of the quirks on Microsoft's Surface Duo is that Microsoft doesn't "hack" Android to enable dual-screen functionality. Instead, the company works with Google so that whatever changes are made, they go upline to the Android OS itself for other OEMs. This approach is vastly different than "forking" features like Samsung, which does a lot of customization (see S Pen features).
The upside to Microsoft's approach is timely monthly updates – it's more of a pure Android OS. The downside is custom features take longer to arrive on Surface Duo. A clear example of this is creating a screenshot. On Surface Duo, you can hold the volume key and power button (or hold the power button) to grab an image of your displays. However, the OS always captures both screens as Microsoft did not rewrite the Android API for native screenshots. That means if you want to share only one side, you need to do a post-edit crop.
It's not a huge deal, but one extra step.
Screenshot Snipper (opens in new tab), as seen on reddit, is a free tool that works around that limitation. The helper app is installed, and when you screenshot, you can "share" to this helper app, which then lets you choose one side or the other before passing on to Twitter, Facebook, email, or whatever. It's all a bit wonky and not as good as a native solution (something Microsoft and Google are surely working on), but it's better than nothing and indeed more expedient.
The same developer created another app called 'Duo BrowserHelper (opens in new tab).' This one is a bit less clear, as it says it helps "to open the browser on another screen when available on Surface Duo." By default, Surface Duo opens any hyperlinks clicked in Microsoft Edge on the second display but only if that second display is clear (that is, no app is running on it, and you can see your home screen).
Duo BrowserHelper effectively forces your default browser (Edge, Chrome, etc.) to always open on the opposite display regardless if there is an app already in that spot. It is a very subtle change to the default behavior, but one that some people may prefer.
Both apps are free and made only for Surface Duo. While not for everyone, it is clever to see how some developers are now trying to improve the dual-screen experience.
Screenshot Snipper is a free helper tool that lets you choose which of the Surface Duo's displays to you want to share after a screenshot.
Duo BrowserHelper is a free helper app that lets you always open a hyperlink in your default browser on the opposing display regardless if there is already an app running.
Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.
Microsoft should create an Android version of Snip & Sketch.
Why? Its horrible. Did you see the reviews on MS Store?
Have you ever used Snip and Sketch? It's great! And having the keyboard shortcut for snipping makes it so easy to use. Not sure why the weird 3 star rating on the store thumbnail, since on the actual store page there's no review section.
I agree. I love Snip & Sketch.
Snip & Sketch is very useful - love it as well.
I have and its terrible compared to the snipping tool. Snip and Sketch still can't share directly into Outlook. They always try fixing whats not broken. I guess they removed the reviews section because its embarrassing how many people hate it and want the snipping tool back.
I love snip and sketch, especially how easy it is to crop
I think this is a good sign. Shows there's enough interest that a developer writes apps to solve specific problems.
In general, this is the way to go - 3rd party apps actually make or break an ecosystem. For example, so many apps we take for granted on Windows are actually 3rd party. I'd even argue that some of the greatest apps on any OS are 3rd party apps. Hope this is a sign of more things to come!
Hopefully, Android 11 takes care of a lot of this stuff.
Like the spastic screen rotation. In the meantime I found an app that makes it much more predictable - and controllable:
Gives you a temporary onscreen icon to confirm that you want to rotate the screen, before it rotates. Simple. Solved.
Daniel, thanks for the tip. I found another couple of apps that so far work great for the Duo. One to cure the spastic screen rotation: https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.anrdoezrs.net%2F... And another that's great for notetakers and pdf annotators. This one has a great widget that I leave nearly full screen on my right screen, to display whatever ongoing note or pdf I'm currently working on. And you can share handwriting directly to OneNote (as a pdf or image): https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.anrdoezrs.net%2F...
Today in "Apps That Should Be OS Features"
Get the best of Windows Central in in your inbox, every day!
Thank you for signing up to Windows Central. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.