List of all Surface Earbuds touch gestures

Surface Earbuds Case
Surface Earbuds Case (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Surface Earbuds represent Microsoft's first truly-wireless in-ear audio endeavor, delivering a highly capable expansion in the flagship PC lineup. They're primed for premium everyday listening, whether calls or entertainment, coupled with a productivity focus through Microsoft Office integration and real-time translation.

The circular design also boasts two integrated touchpads, allowing for easy-access gesture control. It puts core playback features, like play, pause, skip, and volume within a finger's reach, while also hooking directly into digital assistants and Spotify music. But getting your head around Surface Earbud gesture control can be confusing, especially when just getting started.

Here's your ultimate guide to Surface Earbud gesture controls — including what you can do, and how to use them.

Surface Earbuds gestures explained — and how to use them

Surface Earbuds

Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Microsoft Surface Earbuds touch gestures function across iOS, Android, and Windows 10 devices when connected over Bluetooth. Gestures execute a limited set of core functions, utilized through taps and swipes, and eliminating the need to reach for your phone or PC.

The gestures mandate tapping and swiping in preconfigured directions, executing a limited set of core functions, without the requirement to interact with your mobile device or PC. For example, gestures enable easy control over music and calls, or interactions with select aspects of the Office suite.

Most Surface Earbuds gestures apply all aspects of playback, allowing for media control like play, pause, skip, and volume. Access to your device's native digital assistant is also supported, whether Cortana, Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, or more. Android users also receive direct Spotify integration, leveraging machine learning to create dynamic playlists.

While the gestures are relatively straightforward, some swipe motions are limited to just one ear. Volume and skip use different swipes in different directions, but current hardware limitations mean they're split across the left and right ears.

These are the Surface Earbuds actions, their required gestures, and a handy visual aid follow.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Play / PauseDouble TapRow 0 - Cell 2
Answer / End CallDouble TapRow 1 - Cell 2
Skip Forward TrackSwipe Forward on Left EarbudRow 2 - Cell 2
Skip Back TrackSwipe Back on Left EarbudRow 3 - Cell 2
Volume UpSwipe Up on Right EarbudRow 4 - Cell 2
Volume DownSwipe Down on Right EarbudRow 5 - Cell 2
Hail Digital AssistantTap and HoldRow 6 - Cell 2
Instantly play Spotify (Android only)Triple TapRow 7 - Cell 2

Surface Earbuds Outlook 'Play My Emails' gestures

Microsoft recently released its Play My Emails features for Outlook on iOS, leveraging Cortana natural language and AI to read your inbox aloud. The feature enables multitasking while listening to incoming messages, via a brief overview using advanced text-to-speech. The new Surface Earbuds boast that Office integration, including hands-free access to your Outlook inbox on iOS devices — with Android support on the horizon.

Play My Emails messages act similarly to regular music playback, with play, pause, skip, and volume functions over touch gestures.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Play / Pause MessageDouble TapRow 0 - Cell 2
Skip To Next MessageSwipe Forward on Left EarbudRow 1 - Cell 2
Skip To Previous MessageSwipe Back on Left EarbudRow 2 - Cell 2
Message Volume UpSwipe Up on Right EarbudRow 3 - Cell 2
Message Volume DownSwipe Down on Right EarbudRow 4 - Cell 2

Surface Earbuds put a majority of everyday tasks just a swipe or tap away, ideal for entertainment and productivity when on the move. The above gestures all work out of the box, and function across all officially supported devices.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.