Jul 15, 2012

Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Tablet - Rotation Tips (default tablet orientation and rotation button)

Default Tablet Orientation

Gear: Fujitsu LifeBook Digitizer, Docking Station, X230T Accessories.

The "default tablet orientation" is what the system sets when you convert the X230T from laptop to tablet. By default it will go into Primary Portrait.

As you may or may not be aware of, any portrait mode with the X230T is not as good as landscape modes; and the reason is because the content does not fit well in this wide screen aspect ratio. The Lenovo ThinkPad X201T had a better aspect ratio for documents such as PDFs and even some website.

Primary Landscape mode can work but it really doesn't. The reason is because of the 6-cell battery, which elevates one end of the screen and then it feels really weird to work with.

The mode that works very well is Secondary Landscape. The content fits and the angle is actually beneficial. So, I highly recommend adjusting the "default tablet orientation" because it will save you many seconds.

To change the settings:
  • Press the Win key, type "Lenovo Tablet Control Utility" and open it.
  • On the window set the option box to "Secondary Landscape".
  • Click OK button.

Btw, do not use ActiveRotation (switches the rotation automatically) because it is useless to do in Windows 7. Windows 7 is slow at auto rotation and usually the content does not resize well.

Rotation Button

The rotation button is located on the bezel of the screen. The button is next to two other buttons which are Ctrl+Alt+Del and Power. The rotation button will be useful when you convert the X230T into a tablet.

The rotation button has several states, one of them is single press and the other is press and hold.

Single press activates the rotation sequence. By default the sequence will go through all of the rotation modes. The rotation modes are Landscape and Portrait modes (both with primary and secondary modes).

You really do not need portrait modes and you only need Primary and Secondary Landscape modes, so lets remove them.

How to:
  • Press the Win key and type "Tablet PC Settings" and open it.
  • Click the blue link that says "Go To Orientation".
    • Place Primary Landscape in slot 1
    • Place Secondary Landscape in slot 2.
    • Place "none" in slots 3 and 4.
  • Click OK/Apply buttons.

With this adjustment the rotation of the useful modes should take less time.

The Rotation Button options are also available in the Tablet PC Settings, just click the "Buttons" tab. You can set different actions in single press and press and hold states (and each orientation can have different actions). I set mine so it would mute/unmute the audio when doing press and hold.

These are small tips that will make your X230T experience better. Enjoy!



  1. Hi Jesse,
    Thanks for your tip! I want to do the same on my x230t, but I haven't got the "Lenovo Tablet Control Utility". Additionaly i didnt find an downloadlink anywhere...
    maybe you can upload it somewhere or do you have the right link?


    1. Lenovo Tablet Control Utility is a program that comes with the X230T. If for some reason your system does not have it then you need to download it at Lenovo's support site.

      Name: Auto Screen Rotation Settings
      Location: C:\Program Files (x86)\ThinkPad\Tablet Shortcut\ASR\
      Filename: ASRconf.exe
      Part of: Lenovo Tablet Shortcut Menu
      Adjacent to: TpShocks and Utilities (power manager - ThinkVantage Technologies)

      Probable installation files where Tablet Control Utility may be included:
      Lenovo ThinkVantage Tools or Lenovo Solution Center

      If you have the two programs mentioned above, run them and you can get the updates to get Lenovo Tablet Control Utility. If for some reason your X230T does not have those programs then you have to download them from Lenovo's Support site. (you owe me 8 minutes)

    2. Try the ThinkVantage System Update:

    3. Thanks a lot!
      I didnt know that it was included in the Lenovo Tablet Shortcut Menu - installed it and it works fine:)
      ....Before it was very annoying because i had to switch the orientation everytime manually :D
      Now it is MUCH better :)

      Thanks again!

      Now in the right "thread" ;)

    4. I'm glad you got it working. :)

  2. Jesse, this post and your recent one about the 2-button digitizer have raised an important question for me. I've never used a convertible tablet but I do own Wacom's Intuos 3 that I've used with all my computers. I'm pretty much dead set on getting an X230T but it had never occurred to me that I would essentially lose the very configurable buttons that I have on my Intuos. I am sure you're familiar with them, but just in case, they default to Ctrl, Alt, Shift, and can be reprogrammed to do many things (other than just modifier keys) per-application using the Wacom driver.

    These buttons made it very easy to do complex actions using only the digitizer tip and buttons, such as erasing without having to waste time flipping the digitizer around in my hand. I could also avoid many simple UI interactions like switching to a 'Hand' tool for panning and then back again for drawing. Instead I held down a modifier and used the tip. I know simple touch/gestures may fulfill some of those needs, and possibly reprogramming the Hold action on the rotate button as you show in this video might help too (although using your orientation this would be awkward).

    I guess basically I'm asking for your thoughts and experience with this aspect so far. Do you find yourself doing several UI actions just to set up conditions so that you can use the digitizer naturally for a single action? What about non-pen-friendly situations like multi-selecting files in Windows explorer without a Ctrl modifier (or multiple notes in OneNote for that matter).

    Thanks for all your work. Clicking as many ads as I can :)

    1. Brandon, DO NOT click on the ads because you want to help me, this will get me banned (again) from the Adsense program. Those ads are meant for those who are truly interested in what is being displayed in them.

      When I'm mobile I do not focus on key modifiers, it is all about inputting stuff. If I need to type I set it as a laptop and type, if I need to copy a lot of math notes I convert it to a tablet. The in between compromise does not work because the X230T's screen (when in laptop mode) is not supported, therefore you have to use your hand to provide that support. If you use the pen with the right hand, and support the screen with your left, then you are exposed to the heat exhaust (which becomes uncomfortable after a while because of the heat).

      The way to tackle the Ctrl, Alt, Shift keys is to get a separate controller. The controller can be a USB or Bluetooth Number Pad, or something similar like programmable gaming pads. I made an example of this with the Samsung Series 7 Slate.

      When I'm at home I use a small keyboard to access every key modifier. If I was mobile then the number pad would be more convenient to carry around.

      If I designed a convertible I would have added dual TrackPoints on the sides of the screen (one on each side). It would make panning better than having to use finger touch. Each of the trackpoints could be reprogrammed, one for panning, the other for key combination shortcuts or fast application switching. If I recall the X60T had a reprogrammable joystick interface (but Lenovo changed the looks probably to appeal to a wider audience). These buttons/trackpoints would have to be to the sides, top or bottom would not work because it would be awkward (depending on the orientation of the system). But I have no capabilities, or influence, to make such a system.

      I hpe that helps and gives you some ideas.

  3. Whoops, sorry about that. Thankfully I didn't spam anything and the invisibleShield screen protector (ad) was actually interesting. Donated instead.

    Your solution of having a small external input device was about what I was thinking, I just didn't know they sold Bluetooth numpads. That does seem like it would be the ideal solution. I will probably hold off and see if I actually end up needing it. My workflows with a pen do seem to be rather contained using only one or two apps (OneNote, Moment of Inspiration, ArtRage) so focusing on just inputting new content might be beneficial (as a non-artist, Ctrl+Z would be hard to give up though).

    It would be really nice if I could find a device that also has an analog input. This 3d mouse almost fits the bill but lacks enough buttons. Maybe we could find a way to combine button+direction in a radial menu sort of way. I've never really browsed for devices like these so maybe something interesting will appear that isn't too expensive.

    1. Some of those keys are absolute essentials. You could use Navigational Flicks, although the software will most likely disable the flicks on the drawing canvas.


      MS OneNote disables flicks on the main canvas, but it does allow them when performed anywhere else (ie on the UI of the program).

      I owned the SpaceNavigator and for most of its lifetime they only allowed input on certain programs, that has now changed and the 3D mouse can be used on every program (each program can have a different behavior). It is an alternative worth considering, and if the funds allow it I might get both the SpaceNavigator and the Notebooks version. (it would be good to compare them)

  4. Thank you so much! This helped me so much on the rotation options on my Lenovo Thinkpad X230. You really helped!

  5. Hello Jesse,

    This is Tony. I recently bought my x230T (after two months of waiting for it to get the order process and shipped). At first when I switch to tablet mode, my x230T orient to the orientation that I set it to do. But now, it does not do that anymore. The orientation has not change everytime time when I switch it to tablet mode. Any clue as to how to fix this problem. Thanks!

  6. Hello Jesse,

    This is Tony. I just solved my orientation problem. Apparently the ThinkVantage Active Protection Update driver that was optimal, happen to fix my problem :/ . It is weird because everytime when I try to download the optional updates, I get an error from the Lenovo System Update saying that the software has not been downloaded. So What I did was I manually download them directly from the lenovo website. Well anyway, thanks for giving the advice of using PDF annotator. I am starting to like my X230T a little bit more everyday.

  7. Hello Jesse,

    This is Tony again. haha. The problem came back again. This time it happen when I shut my x230T during tablet mode and it froze in that orientation. I had to use the rotation button on the bezel to change it. Any clue as to why this is happening?

  8. Hi Jesse,
    Thanks a lot for you video.
    Does your screen scrape on the battery when you turn it ?

    1. The screen can make contact with the battery when turning it. Most of the time it doesn't, but you can force it to make contact. It really depends on the way that you turn the screen.

  9. Hi Jesse - Thanks for this tip. The only issue I have is that I get an error message that says it can't use secondary landscape when the wifi is on - so I can't be connected to the internet while in this mode? I have a cellular modem as well, but when the wifi switch is off that doesn't work either. Please advise. Thanks! CLH

    1. Check the video/post and also scroll through the documents to get some ideas on how to fix it - http://www.jessebandersen.com/2011/09/windows-tablet-pc-wont-go-into.html

  10. Unfortunately seems like secondary landscape is not possible when wife is on...;(

    1. Sometimes many things are not possible when the wife is on. That's one reason why divorce rates are so high.