Help and Howto

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How to send voice messages on the Xbox One

If you're on the Xbox One preview program, you are now able to send voice messages in the messages app. This feature should be able to everyone else very soon. You can quickly and easily record audio to send to your friends or others through the snapped messages app. It's really easy. Watch our how-to video to see it in action.

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The first video in a series of "60 Second Productivity Hacks, Tips and Insights on How to Get more Out of Our Everyday Technology Tools and Platforms" appeared today on the official Microsoft Lumia youtube channel.

The series of BrainCandy videos is being produced in partnership between Microsoft and CrowdCentric. Each week, BrainCandy will release a new Microsoft video featuring little-known tech tips, tricks and hacks to help digital professionals and consumers live better and work smarter.

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The latest build of Windows 10 Preview, 10041, lets you pin settings to the Start screen. It's quite simple, and it reminds us of a new feature on Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2, which also lets you pin individual settings to the Start screen. Whenever you are in a settings page like System, Network, or Time & language, take a look at the top right corner. You should see a pin icon. Tapping it creates a shortcut on your Start Screen. Need visual aid? Watch our quick how-to video.

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In case you missed it, Microsoft has started allowing Xbox Music users to store personal music collection on OneDrive. You can add your MP3s to OneDrive and play them on your PC, phone, and Xbox. It's really simple. Upload your music files to the new "Music" folder in OneDrive and that music will magically appear in the Xbox Music apps for Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, as well as on your Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Watch our how-to video for more details.

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Pebble is arguably one of the most important smartwatch brands available to consumers these days. Indeed, the private company has been very successful in raising money for its new Pebble Time device, suggesting that the company has some legs.

However, Pebble and Windows Phones are two things that do not match. We detailed the story of the failed attempt at bringing the Pebble app to Windows Phone before so today we want to talk about that 'demo' app for notifications.

We will also tell you where you can get it and how it works in our hands-on video.

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The Cortana team has been rolling out new Interests to Cortana's Notebook for a few weeks now. One of them is the Lifestyle category, with Fitness Tracker as the particular class. (The other new interest is Showtimes + Trailers).

Many of Cortana's characteristics and interests do not roll out to users all at once. Instead, Microsoft tends to push it out slowly, gauging feedback and usage. Lifestyle though is an interesting one: it appears that you can get the interest to show up by merely saving a favorite place as 'Gym'.

If you are unsure on how to save places as favorites, follow these steps to get the Lifestyle interest in Cortana

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Not in the US and want to alter the language on your Microsoft Band (that you likely ordered off of eBay)? Then good news as our favorite app Pimp My Band is now in version 1.8 after numerous smaller updates over the last few weeks.

Today's addition brings the ability to switch languages, including French, German, Italian or Spanish, as well as UK or US English variants.  The feature is found near the bottom, where 'Tweaks' was introduced a few weeks ago.

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How to take a screenshot on the Xbox One

The Xbox One finally has a feature many have been screaming for: the ability to take a screenshot. Here's how to take them and what you can do with them after.

Firstly you'll need to have downloaded the March system update. So, if you didn't get it yet, open up the Settings app, look under system and you should see a prompt for a system update to install.

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The Microsoft Band is not widely available, but lucky owners got treated to an update earlier this week. Some of the new features include the Bike Tile, virtual keyboard, Quick Read, and much more. It also lets Microsoft Band users integrate their data with two additional services: HealthVault and MapMyFitness. The Microsoft Band originally included just two integrated services: RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal. We'll show you how to integrate your Microsoft Band with these services.

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How to use Quick Read on the Microsoft Band

The latest Microsoft Band update released earlier this week added some new features and functionality. One of those things is the new Quick Read function. It's another option to scan incoming texts, emails and other notifications on your Microsoft Band. When enabled, notifications are displayed word by word in a large size. This is handy when you're in motion and rather not scroll down to read. We'll show you how it works in our hands-on video.

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It has been a week since Windows 10 Preview for phone was released and you've probably realized that it is far from being finished. While you had fun checking out the Preview, you want to go back to a more stable build. If you want to roll back to Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft has made it really simple. You'll need a computer, your phone, a USB cable, and the Windows Phone Recovery Tool. Watch our step-by-step instructions on video.

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One of the more useful tricks in Windows 10 for phones is the ability to expand notifications in the Action Center.

When you get a list of emails or alerts, only a snippet is previewed, often cutting off much-needed information. Indeed, on Windows Phone 8.1, you often cannot see the whole Toast notification in the Action Center, making it a bit cumbersome.

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The Windows 10 Technical Preview for phone is now available, at least for some people. One of the most important things about using this early release is giving feedback back to Microsoft. After all, you are partly responsible for the future direction of this operating system.

Windows 10 for phones, like the desktop version, has a Feedback App built in. One way that you can quickly access the application anytime is to use this simple trick.

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Continuum is Microsoft's fancy new way of switching between tablet and desktop mode in Windows 10 as and when the need arises, but what if you want to play around with tablet mode on your desktop PC? Well, no worries, as is often the case there's a manual way to do it so long as you know where to look.

Here's where to find it.

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When it comes to web browsers, Windows 10 gets a little complicated. Internet Explorer 11 is the default browser for now, but later Spartan takes over as it has the new Edge rendering engine (but it can fall back to IE11 for legacy sites).

The Preview 9926 build has Internet Explorer 11 for the browser, however it does have some bits of the new Spartan one coming later this year. Specifically, you can enable the new rendering engine in IE11, the same one that is found in Spartan.

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One of the prominent new features in the task bar in the Windows 10 Technical Preview is the Cortana search box to the right of the Start button. It's a really great tool to have close at hand, but, it does also use up quite a bit of real estate. So, it's understandable you might want to make it go away – especially if you can't use Cortana right now.

Fortunately, that's really simple.

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If you are on the brand new build of the Windows 10 January Technical Preview and you are also in the US with US English enabled, you are lucky enough to have Cortana too. Cortana is Microsoft's increasingly universal personal assistant found on the phone and now Windows (she also powers Maps too in a future update).

Did you know Hey Cortana is also available? Found on the Lumia 930 and Lumia 1520 with the Lumia Denim update (see our demo), Hey, Cortana lets you call up the assistant just using your voice. The feature is disabled by default, but here is is how to enable it.

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How to install Windows 10 Technical Preview

It's been only a few days since Microsoft talked about what's next with Windows 10, and slightly ahead of schedule a brand new release of the Technical Preview has been pushed out. Now that you have had some time to catch your breath and get to grips with what's new, you may be considering giving it a try yourself – and given the number of new Insider sign ups, there looks to be a lot of you!

We've put together a quick how-to below to get you on your way to Windows 10.

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With Microsoft's recent firmware update for the Surface Pro 3, among the new bits and pieces was a new Marvell Wifi driver that lets you switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands on the fly. For those of us using a dual-band router, the updated driver should help resolve any related issues.

Switching bands is easy, so long as you know where to look. Here's how to do it.

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Over the weekend, we published a guide to importing Puyo Puyo Tetris for Xbox One. That guide stirred up old feelings in yours truly, as I wrote strategy guides for years before becoming a gaming journalist and critic. It turns out I had another guide in me, this time for Gameloft's World at Arms for Windows Phone and Windows 8!

World at Arms is a military-themed city building game with strategic battles against AI and human opponents. Many gamers are so over city builders, including me. But World at Arms is one of the better ones, especially now that it has Xbox Live Achievements. Our detailed guide will tell you how to get them all and dominate the online competition!

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In early December, the Xbox One got its first Japanese exclusive retail game: Puyo Puyo Tetris from Sega. That same month, Ubisoft plopped out another boring, generic Tetris game as a downloadable Xbox One title in English territories: Tetris Ultimate.

But in far-off Japan, Sega crafted a Tetris game that overflows with color, charming characters, a lengthy story-filled campaign, and tons of creative new game types. That's the Tetris we should have gotten, and sadly Sega seems content never to release it outside of Japan.

Luckily, importing and playing Puyo Puyo Tetris on non-Japanese Xbox Ones is actually really easy. And to make things even easier, Japanese Xbox guru @Lifelower and I have teamed up to translate nearly the entire game (minus the story itself)! Check out our exclusive guide to either get the most out of Puyo Puyo Tetris or find out what you're missing!

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The Lumia Denim update is hitting more devices each day, and a big chunk of those are country variants often marked as CV. Country variants are non-carrier phones, but even though they are SIM unlocked, they still feature region localization including default language, preloaded apps pertinent to that country and carrier network settings.

Because of this there is no such thing as a "generic" Lumia Windows Phone. Hong Kong, Mexico, Thailand, Norway, and others all have their own country variant of each Lumia model. These country variant Lumias are increasingly eligible for the Lumia Denim update, including the Lumia 930 starting today. However, not all of CVs are yet cleared, and if you bought your Lumia from a retailer, you might not know its region code.

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How to add your Starbucks Card to your Microsoft Band

Despite there being no official app for Windows Phone, you are able to pay for your Starbucks beverages using your Microsoft Band. In fact, Microsoft even throws you a $5 gift card when you buy your Band so your first drink is free.

But it's not immediately obvious how you use it, especially if you just opened the box. But don't worry, it's incredibly simple and we're here to walk you through it.

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