Join us in reading Hobbes' epic How-To install guide, the definitive one for how to get the stuff you want on your Windows Mobile device. It's geared to the new user, but even an old-hat like myself has learned a thing or two from this monster guide. If you're like me, you have a friend or family member who's always hitting you up for help with their Windows Mobile smartphone. My new advice to them: read this article. -- Ed.
Window Mobile (WM) phones can certainly make a huge impact on your productivity on a personal level as well in your professional career. It can offer hours of entertainment with games, movies and music while making sure you never miss a beat from the office while away from your desk. When someone buys their first WM phone, they can usually be placed into two different camps. Those who have only owned a regular cell phone and this is their first smartphone... and those who have owned smartphones in the past, but never a WM phone (i.e. they have only owned Palm OS, Symbian, Blackberry, etc.). In either case, as with anything else in this world, there is a learning curve in order to reach that level of comfort and understanding with their new phone, though this learning curve is probably smaller than some might think at first.
This is going to be the first part in a series aimed at addressing the most common questions, beginner misunderstandings, avoidable unneeded frustrations, etc... that many brand new WM users face. Or for some long time or casual WM users, it may simply answer questions you might have been too embarrassed to ask about!
Part one focuses on how to copy files to your WM phone as well as how to install and unistall software applications on your phone. This guide is written with the beginner in mind, so it does go into a little more detail than you would normally find.
How To: Manually Transfer Files From the PC to the Phone
There are times you will want to transfer files to your new Windows Mobile phone. They may be Word or Excel docs for work, your collection of MP3s, a program you want to install, or pictures of your 3 year old that you are itching to show anyone who will look. There are a few different ways you can transfer files from your PC to your WM phone. Sometimes you will have to make a judgment call as to which way will be the best for the file(s) that you want to transfer, depending on it's size, how many there are, and the location in relation to your phone. In other words, is the file big or small, do you have 2 or 163 files, is it on the PC sitting next to the phone or is the file 2,000 miles away on you boss' laptop. These tutorials assume you have a basic knowledge of Windows XP or Vista on your PC.
Transfer with ActiveSync
If you only need to transfer a few small files and you can connect the phone to the PC that has the files, then you can use ActiveSync to transfer the file. Please be aware that if you are using Windows XP vs Windows Vista, the steps below are very similar with only minor differences. The big difference is basically in the name of the Utility that you use depending the OS on your PC. In Windows XP you will use ActiveSync, which you may need to install on the PC (you can download the latest version here). In Windows Vista it already comes with its version of ActiveSync called Windows Mobile Device Center. Here is how you would do it with both WinXP and Vista:
Open Windows Explorer on your PC (usually Start / All Programs / Accessories / Windows Explorer )
- Connect your phone to your PC
- In XP: After ActiveSync shows it is connected, click on the "Explore" button on ActiveSync on your PC
In Vista: After Windows Mobile Device Center on your PC shows it is connected to your phone, hover your mouse over File Management and then click on the "Browse The Content Of Your Device"
- In the ActiveSync Explorer or the Windows Mobile Device Center Explorer window you just opened on your PC, browse to the folder on your phone you want to copy the file to.
In WinXP: The window will usually open in your phone's My Documents folder in WinXP ActiveSync. In order to browse anywhere else, you will have go up one level by double clicking on "My Windows Mobile Based Device" and then browse to any folder on your phone or select Memory Card and browse to any folder there.
In Vista: Vista's Windows Mobile Device Center it will open up to the root directory so you will have to start by clicking on the phone for the internal memory or the SD card to explorer's it's folders.
- Now in Windows Explorer on your PC find the file that you want to copy to your phone.
- To copy the file to your phone, simply drag the file from Windows Explorer to the the window of the ActiveSync Explorer or Windows Mobile Device Center Explorer window.
- A progress bar will show the status of the file transfer. Please note that if you are using Windows XP, you will not be able to browse either the ActiveSync Explorer window or Windows Explorer until the transfer is completed, but if you are using Windows Vista you will be able to continue to browse while the files are being copied.
You really only want to use this option if the file(s) you want to transfer are small. You also do not want to do this if you are going to transfer a lot of files.
Transfer with a Card Reader
One of the easiest ways (and the way I personally do it most of the time) is to simply remove the memory card from your phone and plug it into a USB card reader connected to your PC. Then you simply use Windows Explorer to drag and drop any file(s) you want copy from your PC to any folder on your phone's memory card.
There are times that this will really be your only option, too. For example, when you want to transfer a VERY large file (i.e. the map file for the whole USA for your GPS navigation program) or a large group of files (i.e. 682 MP3 files) then you want to use a memory card reader for two reasons: First is that copying large files or a large group of files via ActiveSync may literally take **hours** longer. I am not kidding. When I first tried using Active Sync to copy about a GIG of MP3s to my phone, 6 hours later it was still trying to finish them. It only took a matter of minutes with my card reader. Secondly, if ActiveSync does not recognize the file format, it may try to convert to a format it likes better, but then makes it not usable for the intended program (I had this happen to me when I tried use ActiveSync in WinXP to transfer my map files for my GPS navigation program).
Transfer with Email
Now if there is a program that is on a PC that is not next to the computer that you want to install on your phone, then you can email the CAB file to your handheld so you can install the program. Please note that for this to work, you will need to have a CAB file to send, and not the EXE installation file (see the next section for details on this). On the PC, send an email to an email account that you have already set up on your handheld. (Look for a future How To article on WMexperts or browse the forums if you need help with this). Then make sure you attach the CAB file to your email. And send.