Did you get a shiny new Windows Phone this week or have one of the various WP7 smartphones in mind for the near future? If you answer with an enthusiastic “yes”, then read on as this article is written for you. Below you will find 25 tips and tricks to help you set up and tweak your phone. If you have any other shortcuts or tips that I missed, share the love by leaving them in the comments. Enjoy!
(We demo these tips and tricks in HD video at the bottom of this page!)
1. Add apps to the home screen
Add apps to the home screen by tapping and holding an application in the launcher. Select “pin to start” to add the application to your home screen.
2. Add contacts to the home screen
Add contacts to the home screen by tapping and holding a name in the People Hub. Then tap on “pin to start”. Once you return to the home screen, you can tap the contact and get one-click access to calling, texting, or emailing the contact.
3. Add a OneNote document to your home screen
Add a OneNote document to your home screen by opening the Office Hub. Within the Office Hub, find your OneNote document, tap and hold on it to pull down the options menu. Then tap “pin to start” to put it on your home screen. Once it is on your home screen, a single tap will let you edit and view the OneNote document.
4. Add a web page to the home screen
Add a web page to the home screen by opening Internet Explorer. Once you have loaded the web page of interest (intomobile.com is a good one), tap the three dots in the right bottom corner and drag them up to expose the options menu. Then select “pin to start”.
5. Arrange and delete tiles on your home screen
Arrange tiles on your home screen by tapping and holding a tile until it pops out and is highlighted. Drag the tile to its new place on your home screen and tap it again to set its new position. Remove tiles from your home screen by tapping and holding a tile until it pops out and is highlighted. Tap on the “crossed-out” pin icon to remove the tile from your home screen.
6. Change the default picture on your Pictures Hub
Change the default picture on your Pictures Hub by tapping on the Pictures Hub while on the home screen. When in the Pictures Hub, tap and hold anywhere on the screen above the pictures (a blank spot is perfect). A context menu will drop down and you can select “Change Background” to chose a new default picture. This new image will change both the background of the full-fledged Pictures Hub and the background image of the Pictures Hub on the home screen.
7. Change the default color of your home screen tiles
Change the default color of your home screen tiles by navigating to settings > theme. The theme screen will let you change the background color from dark to light and change the accent color of menu items and home tiles to a color of your choice. My favorite is the dark background with lime accent.
8. Link multiple contacts into one profile
If you sync data from multiple services, you may end up with multiple entries for one contact. Windows Phone tries to combine contacts when possible, but it is not always correct. To manually link two entries, open the Peoples Hub and tap on a contact to display the personal information. At the bottom of the contact’s profile, you will see an icon that looks like a chain link. Tap on the chain icon and select the contact that you want to link together. Windows Phone will scan and select potential pairs for you to link or you can tap on “browse” to link them manually.
9. Activate Voice Controls on Windows Phone 7
Activate Voice Controls on Windows Phone 7 by tapping and holding the Start button. The Voice control will launch and you can speak commands like “Open Calendar”, “Call Chris Mobile” or “Find Coffee in Seattle”. This one-click control also works with a Bluetooth headset by tapping the call button on your headset.
10. Mystery three dots at the bottom right of the screen
Those three dots are interspersed throughout the UI and will display a context menu for more options. If you are viewing your email, tapping on the three dots and dragging them up will display a menu with an option to change your email settings and add another email account. You can also tap on the dots to display the labels of menu icons, very useful if you are not sure what the icons represent.
11. Set up a multiple language dictionary
You can set up a multiple language dictionary on your phone by changing the keyboard options within the settings. Tap on keyboard languages and you can select more than one language. When you are typing with the on-screen keyboard there will be an option to change the language and dictionary used by the keyboard. The new language key will appear to the right of the space bar and will appear as “En” for English, “Fr” for French, and so on. Tapping on this key will let you switch the keyboard as well.
12. Remove unwanted applications from your handset
Remove wanted applications by navigating to the launcher/application list. You can get to the launcher by swiping left or tapping on the arrow at the top of the home screen. Once you have the application list, find the app that you want to uninstall and tap and hold it. You can then select “uninstall” to remove the application from the phone.
13. Reboot your phone without removing the battery
Hold down the power button for 10-15 seconds to power off and restart the phone. Case and battery removal is not necessary.
14. Send an email to all attendees of a calendar event
Send an email to all attendees of a calendar event in a few quick steps. Open the calendar and select a group event to view the event details. At the bottom of the event details, there will two icons – one is an arrow and the other is a picture of a man running. The arrow is used to send an email response to all attendees of an event, the running man will generate a new email with preset text that lets the attendees know that you are running late.
15. Scientific Calculator
Access the Scientific Calculator by opening the calculator and rotating the handset to landscape view.
16. Set priority level and add CC and BCC to an email
Set priority level and add CC and BCC to an email by tapping on the three dots in the bottom right corner. These appear when you create a new email or respond to an email. A context menu will drop down and you can select “priority” or “show cc & bcc” to add these options to your message.
17. Quickly fix a spelling mistake
Quickly fix a spelling mistake by tapping on a word to highlight it. The auto-correct feature will kick in and you can select the correct word from the auto-correct bar that appears above the on-screen keyboard. The auto-correct bar slides left and right for more dictionary words.
18. Fine control over the cursor for editing a word
Pinpoint the location of your cursor for editing by tapping and holding on a word. A red bar will appear above your finger. Drag your finger downwards and place the red bar at the proper insertion point. Note: the editing bar appears above your finger and not at your finger. This is done deliberately as it makes it easy to position the editing bar without blocking the text with your fat finger.
19. Color code calendars from different accounts
Color code calendars from different accounts by opening the calendar app and navigating to the Day or Agenda view. Tap and drag on the thee dots in the right bottom corner and then tap on “calendars”. This will bring you to a screen where you can change the colors of calendars and turn them on and off via a toggle button. You have control over calendars from Window Live, Google, or Exchange.
20. Set custom ringtones for your contacts
Set custom ring tones for a contact within the details page for each contact. Start by going to the Peoples Hub and select a contact. Click on the pencil icon in the bottom menu to edit the contact’s details. When in edit mode, scroll down to ringtone and select the ringtone for each contact. While you are in the editing screen, you can also select “other” to add notes, anniversary date, birthday, children, and more to the contact’s details.
21. Share a photo by uploading it to SkyDrive or Facebook
Share a photo by uploading it to SkyDrive or Facebook by navigating to the Pictures Hub. Within the Hub, find the photo to share and tap and hold. A context menu will appear and you can tap on Share to bring up the sharing options. You then have the option to upload the photo to SkyDrive or Facebook. You can also share via email or MMS from this menu.
22. Fire up your camera even when the handset is locked and the screen is off
Here is a tip for the camera buffs. Quickly launch the camera by holding the camera button for 3 seconds. The camera will launch even if your handset display is off and your handset is locked. The camera launches immediately without requiring you to enter your password or wake up/unlock the handset.
23. Change the browser from a mobile to a desktop version
You can change the browser from mobile to desktop within Internet Explorer. Start by opening Internet Explorer. Once you are viewing a web page, tap and drag the three dots in the right bottom corner and select settings. In the settings, you can switch the website preference from “Mobile Version” to “Desktop Version”.
24. Quickly access a favorite web page by moving it to the top of your favorites list
Quickly access a favorite web page by moving it to the top of your favorites list. To get a web page to the top, add “..” or a similar character to the name of the page when you add it as a favorite. For example, when you add Google as a favorite, the default name will be “Google”. Change “Google” to “..Google” to make it appear the top of the favorites list.
25. Change your lock screen wallpaper
Change your lock screen wallpaper by navigating to the settings > lock & wallpaper. At the top of the lock & wallpaper section, there will be a “change wallpaper” button that will let you select a new wallpaper from your photo library.
Bonus. Quickly access alternate keys on your keyboard
Here is one more tip for those with a virtual keyboard on their Windows Phone handset. Tap and hold any key on the virtual keyboard to display alternate characters. For example, you can tap and hold the “.com” key to display “.net”, “.org”, and “.edu”. Sweet!
Bonus. Find the exact battery level on the Samsung Focus
Here is a tip for those with a Samsung Focus. Samsung has a diagnostic function that will display the precise battery level. Start by entering the diagnostic menu by opening the dialer and typing in ##634#. Tap on “Call“ and then enter in *#2*# to reveal the battery level. Thanks go to wpcentral for finding this neat trick.
Bonus. Customize website thumbnails pinned to the home screen
Ever browse a website, pin it to your home screen, and find the resulting tile a bit drab and nondescript? Then this next tip is for you. When you want to pin a website to your home screen, zoom into a specific section of the page, such as the logo of the site or an interesting picture. Once you are done zooming and adjusting, pin the page to the home screen and that zoomed section will appear in the tile.