General tips and tricks

AntEater [A]
Reputation: 39
October 15th  2014 10:31
Microsoft's Windows mobile phone operating system is famous for a lot of things. Not only does it sport a slick and minimalist UI, the OS itself is very snappy and lightning fast, which is a matter of personal-pride for many of its owners. Window Phones are famous for another thing – the phone has a ton of under-the-hood features, which are powerful, yet easy to miss. The evolution of Windows Phone from the 'humble' Windows Phone 8 to the 'fighter' Windows Phone 8.1 has further enhanced this sneaky but useful characteristic, which promises something for everyone. A casual user gets an easy to understand phone, while there are plenty of advanced setting for the power user, too.

So let's take a look at some of those easy-to-miss features, tips and tricks, which your Windows Phone has to offer.


Pin away!
While the Start screen grid in Windows Phone 8 could only hold a maximum of four tiles, Windows Phone 8.1 allows you to pin six adjacent tiles in a row on the Start Screen. This opens a door for some interesting Start Screen designs and tile placements, all aimed towards making your phone look even more convenient and beautiful.

The high density mode is deactivated by default if you have upgraded from Windows Phone 8. To activate it, tap Settings, tap Start + Theme, scroll down, and swipe on 'Show more tiles'.

Works with: Windows Phone 8.1

Your Windows mobile also enables you to pin a lot of content/tiles on the Start Screen. Just choose from the different applications you have installed. Feel free to explore what other content can be pinned and which can't, by pulling up 'Options'. You can also avoid digging through your Contacts list every time you need to call your Mom, girlfriend/boyfriend or best buddy. Pinning their contact information on your

Start Screen is like putting them on speed dial.

Works with: Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1

Start Background
You will probably agree that Windows Phone 8's Start Screen appeared to be a little bit dull. With Windows Phone 8.1, you can easily place a photo as your Start Screen background. You will see that choosing beautiful textures or a nice selfie will make a difference.

To do this tap Settings, tap Start + Theme, choose your photo, crop it, and you are all set.

Works with: Windows Phone 8.1


Windows mobile phones allow you to take screenshots of the current screen. This can be a handy feature, in case some app doesn’t allow you to save an important picture or content, or when you beat someone's high score.

On Windows Phone 8, press the lock button and the Windows home button at the same time.

On Windows Phone 8.1, press the lock and volume up buttons at the same time.


Although the default tones provided by Microsoft are pretty meek and easy-on-the-ears, you might want to add your personality to your phone just a little bit more with custom tones. You will need 'Files' or some other file manager app to accomplish this task.

First, move your music file (less than 30 MB) into the 'Ringtone' folder in your phone's storage. Now you will be presented with this file whenever you want to change you tone.

Works with: Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1


The Windows Phone 8.1 update came with a redesigned Xbox Music app, which takes all of eternity to open and load songs. Even the app's ratings on the Windows Phone store have plunged lately. But do you know that there is actually a way to get that good old Music app back within seconds, without downgrading you Windows Phone 8.1 device, or even pulling your hair out of frustration? Yes, you got it right.

Open up the Store and search for the app called Music Hub Tile. The app is less than 1 MB. Once it installs and recovers the old settings, voila, your beloved Music Hub is back.

Works With: Windows Phone 8.1


Enough digging around your Windows Phone 8 settings for activating your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Windows Phone 8.1 presents the minimal yet highly powerful 'Action Center.' Along with providing a maximum of four customizable one-touch settings, it houses the neat 'Notification Center' beneath it, which shows highly reliable and up-to-date notifications.

Just pull down the top of any screen, and Notifications + Actions will appear.

Works with: Windows Phone 8.1


The Internet Explorer 11 is a neat and lightweight web browser that comes bundled with your Windows Phone 8.1. The IE11 is a lot more powerful and flexible than the older IE10. It has a customizable address bar little icon on the left side, which can be set to display 'Tabs' or 'Favourites'. It even has a Reading View, which lets you adjust text size and choose a background mode. The browser also allows In Private Browsing, and left and right swiping of pages in order to move backwards and forwards.

Works with: Windows Phone 8.1


The highly accurate and personal Swype is back from the good old days of Windows mobile to help you type faster. With Swype, you don't need to press individual buttons while typing. You can just slide your finger or thumb between letters when you type for a more efficient typing experience.

Works with: Windows Phone 8.1


Have you been struggling with managing multiple inboxes on your phone? Keeping multiple email inboxes on one phone can be the most cumbersome task possible. Windows Phones provide a solution for this problem. You can actually link all your inboxes, so that there is one unified mailbox, where you get all your emails. Don't worry, you emails will still go into separate facilities like Google, Outlook, and Yahoo. They will just show up on one place on your phone.

To do this, tap on Outlook, pull up the Options menu, and select 'link inboxes.' Select the desired inboxes, and they will be linked in no time. There is one con to this though: the pretty little Outlook icon will transform into two googlesque letter boxes stacked together.

Works with: Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1


Are you planning to download a heavy app from the store? Stop! You could waste some precious data in the process, and get a message saying "Not Enough Memory.” To avoid this, go to Windows Phone's desktop site, and download the .xap file manually. Later you can copy the file to your memory card, and then install it locally.

Go to, select the mammoth sized game or app, and click on 'Download and Install manually.’ Next, copy the file to your memory card. You can find it in your phone under 'Store' in Windows Phone 8, or in the 'Files' app in Windows Phone 8.1. Once you find what you had copied, just hit install.

Works with: Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1


Windows Phone 8.1 allows games and apps to be installed directly on memory cards, which wasn't possible with its predecessor. Sometimes you just end up with too many apps and want to clean up. You could remove one app at a time or uninstall multiple apps at once. With Windows Phone 8.1's Storage Sense, it is very simple. You can even move your files between your phone's storage and your memory card in the same way.

Tap on Storage Sense, find and check all the apps you want to be uninstalled under the memory card or phone, click on uninstall, and watch them vanish.

Works With: Windows Phone 8.1


A lot of people still use the black and white button, which appears on the top-right of apps, once the back button is long pressed. While this is a handy feature for closing apps which was introduced in the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (also known as the General Distribution Release 3 or GDR3), there is an even simpler way when it comes to Windows Phone 8.1. Simply swipe the app to the bottom of the screen and away it goes.


In life, things happen and one of these things could be ending up with a malfunctioning phone. Now all of us who have faced this at some point of time seriously know the implications. You probably risk losing everything you have saved on your phone. The good news is Windows Phones can back up your data and settings to save you some grief. Simply create a backup up of everything you want and sync your phone.

To do this, go to 'Sync My Settings.’ and switch on Theme, App Settings, IE, and/or Passwords to be backed up. You can then backup all your photos, apps + settings, and text messages to the cloud, when you head to 'Backup,’ which you will find under Settings.

Works with: Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1


If your phone’s regional settings is not set to US, Cortana may seem to be missing from your phone. Do not fret. This can easily be remedied. Just follow these instructions step by step:

a. Change your Language settings to English (United States).
b. Reboot the phone.
c. Once you fire it up again, go to Region under Settings, and change it to the United States.
d. Reboot if required.
After following these steps, Cortana will be there to greet you on your Start screen. Now just press the Search button, and say Hello to her.

Works with: Windows Phone 8.1


Just ask Cortana to switch on Quiet Hours, and you will not get any unnecessary messages and e-mails at night. Do not worry, that you might miss important calls. You can choose for which contacts to override this setting. Quiet Hours can even be integrated with certain calendar events, or on a daily basis according to a predefined schedule.

Simply ask Cortana to turn on Quiet Hours, or go to the Quiet Hours option under Settings.

Works with: Windows Phone 8.1


Bing Vision is a powerful camera tool on the Windows mobile. It lets you scan barcodes, QR codes, and even books, CDs, and DVDs. Scanning text is also very simple. You just have to point the camera towards the text, and it will be readily translated to your native tongue. If it is your native language that you have scanned, be ready for translating it into 39 other languages.

Just open Bing Vision under the Camera App, and start scanning.

Works with: Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1


Did you save all your notes on you Windows Phone OneNote client, but do not have access to it currently? No need to worry because you can access your data from any computer. This is possible since OneNote saves all your data to the cloud by default. Just fire up any computer, log in to your Microsoft account, and voila. The app is called OneNote for a reason.

Works with: Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1


Microsoft actually understands your battery-woes. Windows mobile phones are popular for being battery-efficient. 'A day a charge' is quiet easy to obtain with a Windows Phone if you do not use it regularly in high-end gaming. Windows Phone 8.1 has a specially designed app that shows the amount of battery charge apps are using. It even helps you filter apps that are running in the background, and switch them off. Swipe across, and you are greeted by the familiar Battery Saver Settings of your old Windows Phone 8.

Works with: Windows Phone 8.1

These are just some of the more important features, tips, and tricks for Windows mobile. The beauty of a device running on this mobile operating system lies in its under-the-hood settings. So feel free to explore as much as you want.
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