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Windows Phone tips and tricks

Ready to do more? Try out these tips and tricks to make your Windows Phone the most productive, the most connected, and the most fun it can be. Click a category to get started. And be sure to check out the Help+Tips app for Windows Phone 8.1 to get answers to top questions, search for help topics, and see videos and animated tips right on your phone.

Notes

  • This topic is about Windows Phone 8.1. If your phone is running Windows Phone 8, some options and icons may look a little different, and some features may not be available. Check to see which software version you have and find out if an update is available.
  • Some apps and features won't work on phones with less than 1 GB of RAM. To see how much memory your phone has, check the manufacturer's website or your phone's documentation.
    • Swipe to see your apps – Swipe over from Start to see your App list. Tap any letter to see the entire alphabet, and tap another letter to jump there—or tap Search Search icon to go straight to a specific app.
    • Screen rotation lock – Read on the couch, in bed, or hanging upside down from a tree—it's all possible with the screen rotation lock. In the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Screen rotation to turn it on.
    • Back it up – Save it all to the cloud —back up your App list, settings, texts, and photos. In the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Backup to turn it on.
    • Notifications and quick actions – It's simple to check your notifications and quick actions on the fly. Swipe down from the top of the screen to open action center. Tap a notification to open the associated app (for example, email) or swipe over to dismiss the notification. Tap a quick action (such as rotation lock or brightness) to use it.
    • Curb your data – In the App list, go to Data Sense Data Sense icon to manage your phone's data usage. You can also use Wi-Fi Sense to have your phone automatically connect to open Wi-Fi hot spots. Just tap Settings Settings icon > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi Sense to get started. (Not all mobile operators offer Data Sense.)
    • Restart your phone – If your phone is unresponsive, you can usually restart it to get back on track. For info, see Restart my phone.
    • Get a Room – Invite friends or family to a room, then share a calendar, photos, group chat, and notes with other room members.
    • Customize your lock – To see all the ways to personalize your lock screen—including which app notifications and images you want to see there—in the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Lock screen.
    • Tinker with TilesPin, unpin, move, and resize your Start Tiles to put the info you want front and center.
    • Create folders on Start – Organize your Start screen easily by grouping your Tiles into folders.
    • Pick your colors – To pick a new accent color, choose between dark and light for your background, and even choose a photo to use as your Start background, in the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Start+theme.
    • Easy reader – To make your phone easier to read, in the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Ease of access, where you can make the text size bigger, set a high-contrast theme, and more.
    • Stay in sync – Like the way you've set up your Windows Phone? Sync your preferred theme color, app settings, Internet Explore tabs, and Wi-Fi passwords across all your Windows devices under Settings Settings icon > Sync my settings.
    • Cortana's Notebook – To open Cortana's Notebook Notebook icon, press the Search Search icon button and then tap in the upper right corner of the screen. There you'll find all of your interests, reminders, people in your inner circle, and more.
    • Cortana is listening – To say something to Cortana, press the Search Search icon button and then tap the microphone button Bing microphone icon. Or press and hold the Search Search icon button to have Cortana listen immediately, no matter what else you're doing.
    • Say what? – Not sure what to say? Press and hold the Search Search icon button, and then say, "What can I say?" for some ideas.
    • Do not disturb – Need some "me" time? Go to Cortana's Notebook Notebook icon, and then tap Quiet hours to customize how Cortana can handle your incoming calls, notifications, and more.
    • Stay up to date – Get real-time updates for some of your interests (like stock prices or sports scores). In Cortana's Notebook Notebook icon, tap Interests, and then look for interests that have alerts.

    Note

    Cortana is only available in some countries/regions.

    • Get some Live AppsLive Apps are apps with Live Tiles that deliver updates and new info to your Start screen. Some can even show updates on your lock screen. Find them in the Windows Phone Store.
    • Get personal – Get app recommendations tailored to your likes—in the Windows Phone Store, swipe over to For [your name].
    • Mighty multitasking – Keep your place in a game while you check email? No problem. Just press and hold the Back Back button button to open the App switcher and see and flick through your recent apps. Tap an app to go to it; You can also close an app by tapping Close Close app icon or by swiping down.
    • Move apps and games to an SD card – If your phone has an SD card installed, it's simple to move apps and games over to it to free up space on your phone. In the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Storage Sense, tap Phone, and then tap Apps+games. You can move one app or game at a time, move a few, or move all of them. It's up to you.
    • Keep the kids happy – Add some favorite apps and games to Kid's Corner, then hand over your phone to your kid without stressing.
    • Search on a webpage – To find a word or phrase on a webpage, in Internet Explorer IE Tile, tap More More icon > Find on page.
    • Customize your address bar button – Go to your Internet Explorer settings to choose what the browser's address bar button does: go to favorites, or take you to your tabs.
    • Browse faster – Add a site to your favorites list to get back to it in a flash. When you're on a favorite site, just tap More More icon > Add to favorites.
    • Pin sites to Start – Got a favorite—or just really necessary—website? Pin it to Start for instant access—just tap More More icon > Pin to Start.
    • Browse privately – InPrivate mode lets you go incognito by disabling cookies and browsing history. Tap More More icon > Tabs > More More icon > New InPrivate tab to use it.
    • Read text-heavy pages – Tap Reading mode Reading mode icon in the address bar when you're reading a text-heavy page to make long articles easier on the eyes.
    • Swipe through reminders – When more than one calendar reminder pops up on your phone, swipe over to read, snooze, or dismiss them one by one.
    • Let folks know you're nearly there – To send a quick email letting other meeting attendees know you're running late, in the App list, go to Calendar Calendar Tile, open an event, and then tap Late Late icon.
    • Quick-add events – To add an event to your calendar on the fly, in Calendar Calendar Tile, tap View View icon > Day, tap a time slot, type a subject, and then tap Save Save icon. You can add details later.
    • Share a contact – To send a contact card via email, NFC (Tap to share), text message, or Bluetooth, in People People Tile, swipe over to Contacts, tap a contact, and then tap More More icon > Share contact.
    • Keep your friends close... – Pin a room or group to Start, then watch its Live Tile light up with info from the other members.
    • Reply on the fly – In a contact card in People People Tile, swipe over to the History view to see recent calls, texts, and email with the person. Then tap one to call back or write a reply.
    • Jump to a contact – In your contact list in People People Tile, tap a letter to see the whole alphabet, then tap any letter to leap to that section of your list.
    • Filter contacts – To filter your contact list to show only people from the accounts you choose, in your contact list in People People Tile, tap Showing. (The filtered ones will still show up when you search for them.) You can also filter out contacts without phone numbers.
    • Filter social feeds – Buried in social networking updates? Filter them on the fly: in People People Tile, swipe over to What's new, and then tap Showing. Select the accounts you want to see updates from. You can also filter out posts from contacts you've filtered.
    • Dictate a reply – Replying on the fly? Tap Speak Speak icon in any email you're writing, then use Speech to have your say, hands-free.
    • Clear inbox clutter – Group your email by conversation to see—or bulk delete—messages in the same thread. From an email account's inbox, go to More More icon > Settings, and then turn on Conversations Toggle On icon.
    • Streamline inboxes – Link multiple email accounts into a single inbox on your phone (the accounts stay separate). From the inbox of one of the accounts you want to link, tap More More icon > Link inboxes to set it up.
    • Bulk move or trash – Need to delete or file multiple emails? Tap to the left of any message in your inbox to reveal a row of check boxes, and then select as many messages as you like.
    • Word suggestions – Give those fingers a rest—the Word Flow keyboard can predict the next word in your sentence. As it learns your writing style, it'll make better predictions.
    • Faster, more fluid typing – With Word Flow with shape writing, you can type words with just a few swipes across your keyboard. In the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Keyboard, tap the keyboard you want to change, and then select the Type as I swipe through letters check box.
    • Emote quicker – You can set your keyboard to switch back to the alphabet automatically after you type an emoticon. In the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Keyboard > Advanced, and then select the Switch back to letters after I type an emoticon check box.
    • Switch languages – Use more than one language? Once you add a new keyboard language, you can quickly switch to it with a tap of the language button on the keyboard. For example, if you usually use the English (United States) keyboard, tap the ENG button, and the keyboard switches to the next language you've added.
    • .com, .org, .net – Tap and hold the .com key to bring up other common extensions for web or email addresses.
    • Pop-up punctuation – Tap and hold the period key to bring up other common punctuation marks. Try tapping and holding other keys to find less common symbols and punctuation, like foreign currency or fancy brackets.
    • Spelling help – Tap a misspelled word to see suggestions from the built-in dictionary. Tap a suggestion to swap it in.
    • Eyes on the road – Use Driving Mode to cut down on distractions while you're behind the wheel. You can even send automatic replies to people who call or text when you're driving.
    • Ignore with a text – Can't pick up? Just tap one of the preloaded text message replies to let folks know you'll get back to them. You can also set up a custom reply.
    • Copy and paste a numberCopy a phone number from somewhere else on your phone. To paste it, tap Phone Phone icon > More More icon > Keypad Keypad icon, and then tap Paste Paste icon.
    • Lock your SIM – You can use a PIN for the SIM card in your phone to prevent people from making unauthorized phone calls.
    • Call folks back quickly – Need to call someone back? On Start Start icon, tap Phone Phone icon, swipe over to History, and then tap the contact name or number you want to call back.
    • Speech over the lock – Even if your phone is locked, you can use Speech to call or text someone. Go to Settings Settings icon > Speech, and then select the Allow speech above lock check box.
    • Look, no hands – Have Speech read your incoming text messages aloud over Bluetooth, a wired headset, or through the phone's built-in speaker—then reply using just your voice. In the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Speech to turn it on.
    • Share where you're at – Start a new text message, and then tap Attach Attach icon> My location to send your location.
    • Back up your messages – You can back up your texts to the cloud in case you ever have to reset your phone, or get a new Windows Phone, and you want to restore them. In the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Backup to turn on text message backup.
    • Bulk trash – In Messaging Messaging Tile, tap to the left of any message thread to reveal a row of check boxes, select all the threads you want to delete, and then tap Delete Trash icon.
    • Group text – To send texts to multiple contacts at once and keep their replies in one thread, in Messaging Messaging Tile, go to More More icon > Settings , and then turn on Group text Toggle On icon .
    • Tap, shoot, text – See something unbelievable? Start a new text message, and then tap Attach Attach icon > Picture > Camera Camera icon to snap and attach the evidence.
    • Stream it – Get an Xbox Music Pass so you can search Xbox Music for the song you want, then stream it to your phone. If you're into TV shows, try Season Pass on Xbox Video.
    • Create a playlist – Like what you're hearing? In Music Music icon, tap and hold a song, album, artist, or genre in your collection, then tap Add to... > New playlist. Enter a playlist name, then tap Save Save icon. You can also download songs right from the playlist you create.
    • Automatic grooves – Radio can make autoplaylists tailored to your taste. In Music Music icon, just tap and hold an artist, song, or album, and then tap Create radio station.
    • Get the buzz – In Music Music icon, tap an artist, and then swipe over for more info, including their bio, related artists, and more.
    • Search it – In Music Music icon, tap Search Search icon, and then enter a song, album, or artist name to find your favorite music.
    • Find your favorite TV and movies – In Video Video icon, tap Search Search icon, and then enter a TV show or movie title, actor name, or other related info. You can also tap Browse TV store or Browse movie store, and then tap Filter Video filter icon to browse for titles by network or studio.
    • Get podcastsSubscribe to podcasts right from your phone to download episodes, or stream episodes whether or not you've subscribed.
    • Use your phone as a radioListen to FM radio on your phone. (Not available on all phones.)
    • Collaborate on a doc – Working on a report or presentation with a colleague? Use OneDrive to share the doc—then pin it to Start to keep tabs on the latest draft.
    • Note it quick – Use OneNote Mobile to make shopping or to-do lists, then check off your chores one by one. You can even sync them with OneDrive and share them.
    • New notes from Start – The Pin new to Start setting in OneNote lets you open a new note from your Start screen with a single tap—no need to dive into a notebook first. In OneNote OneNote Tile > Notebooks, tap More More icon > Pin new to Start.
    • Pin a place to Start – Pin OneDrive, SharePoint, or another doc place to Start for fast access. In the Office Hub, tap and hold a place, and then tap Pin to Start.
    • A fresh Start – Now there are even more ways to decorate your Photos Hub Live Tile on Start. In the App list, go to Photos Photos Tile > More More icon > Settings > Start Tile shows to pick an option.
    • Photo burst – The new burst shooting mode makes it easier to capture the moment every time you take a picture. Open a photo taken with burst mode, tap Burst Burst mode icon, and save the best of the bunch.
    • Choose one, some, or all – In a picture album on your phone, tap Select Multiselect icon to select one or more photos to delete, share, or tag as favorites.
    • Tap to shoot – Tap anywhere in the camera viewfinder to focus there and snap the shot.
    • Shhhh! – Taking a picture at the library? In the App list, go to Settings Settings icon > Ringtones + sounds, and then clear the Camera shutter check box to mute the shutter sound and dodge disapproving glares.
    • All safe in the cloud – You can automatically upload every picture you take to OneDrive—at full resolution—or auto-upload your pics using other photo apps you've installed. In the App list, go to Photos Photos Tile > More More icon > Settings, and then tap OneDrive or Apps.
    • Fix your pics – Crop 'em, fix 'em, rotate 'em—edit your photos right on your phone. In Photos Photos Tile, tap a photo, and then tap Edit Edit icon.
    • Tag some favesChoose some favorites in your picture albums, then use them to decorate your lock screen or Photos Hub Live Tile on Start.
  • Note

    If Cortana is on, some of these features will work differently or will be unavailable. Meet Cortana to learn more about what she can do.

    • Search with Bing – Press the Search Search icon button, and then type what you're looking for in the search box.
    • Just for you – Press the Search Search icon button, tap Scout Scout icon, and then swipe through the Local Scout suggestions for places to eat, drink, shop, or visit.
    • Voice directions – Want your directions read to you? Install a navigation app from the Windows Phone Store.
    • Get some perspective – In the App list, go to Maps Maps Tile, and then tap Perspective view Perspective view icon, and the map will orient to the direction you're facing. (You'll need to calibrate your phone the first time around.)
    • Where's my Wi-Fi? – See the closest hotspots right on your map. In the App list, tap Maps Maps Tile > More More icon > View options, and then select the Show nearby Wi-Fi check box.
    • Tap to map – Try tapping a street address on a webpage to see it on a map. (Likewise, if you see a phone number, try tapping it to dial.)
    • What's that song? – Bing Music listens to a song that's playing, then searches to tell you the name, artist, and ways you can hear it again or buy it. Press the Search Search icon button, and then tap Music Music icon.
    • Point, shoot, search – With Bing Vision, you can scan things with your phone and then search for them on the web. Press the Search Search icon button, tap Vision Vision icon, and then point your phone at a QR code or text.
    • Tell it to your phone – Search with your voice—no typing required. Press and hold the Search Search icon button to start Speech, then tell your phone what you want it to find.
    • Find your phone – Go to the My Phone section of windowsphone.com from any Internet-connected computer to ring, lock, erase, or find your phone on a map.
    • Flash your Wallet – Digitally store airline tickets, credit cards, and more in your Windows Phone Wallet.
    • Save your battery – To set Battery Saver to turn on when the juice gets low, in the App list, go to Battery Saver Battery Saver Start icon. Until you get a chance to charge up, it'll turn off some of the features that use the battery in the background. In Usage, you can also select which apps you'd like to run or disable in the background.
    • Go big – Want to see the contents of your phone on a big screen? Go to Settings Settings icon > Project my screen to connect to an external display.

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