Windows Phone Help & How-to

Advanced Tip Series!

There has been a tremendous outpouring of comments on Windows 10 Technical Preview, both positive and negative. Some people have had a lot of luck running it while others have run into problem after problem. When you're dealing with a software preview, that's just the nature of the beast.

You may be one of the technical daredevils that boldly loaded Windows 10 on your Surface Pro 3. You may also be one of those sad souls who now regret that decision. If you fell into the second category and neglected to heed all the warnings about creating recovery media for your device, Windows 10 install has almost certainly wiped out the recovery partition on your Surface. This missing recovery partition makes an easy return to Windows 8 impossible.

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As people continue to use the Windows 10 Technical Preview, they are identifying subtle differences between it and its predecessor. One such feature that seems to be a double-edged sword is the Home folder in the File Explorer. When clicked, the Home folder displays a list of your File Explorer Favorites, folders that you frequent, and your recently-accessed files. It is the last two that have people questioning whether the Home folder is a good or bad idea.

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Beginners' Tips Series!

My Surface Pro 3 has quickly become the device I use most often. And since what I do on it is typically limited to writing, crawling the web and communicating with people, my demand for storage is not very high. However, I always make sure that I have plenty of music on my Surface, which can take up a lot of space.

When deciding on which version of the Surface I was going to buy I knew I wanted an Intel i5 processor, which left me with 128GB and 256GB for hard drive options. From a storage perspective, it was a no-brainer for me to go with the 128GB drive. Knowing full well that I could increase the amount of storage at any given time by taking advantage of the Surface's microSD card slot helps with that decision.

Considering I already had a 64GB microSD card sitting at home, it was a decision that saved me $300 over the 256GB model.

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Beginner's Tips Series!

About a year ago, I decided to move away from using Gmail as my primary email address, in favor of Outlook.com. I initially considered it way back at the end of 2012 when Google decided it was going to drop support for Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), but I had been using Gmail for over a decade and was, frankly, just too lazy. Finally, after growing more and more concerned about the privacy of my email data, I bit the bullet and made the switch.

Though I had been using Gmail for so long, the transition was generally painless. One of the most important things that I needed to transfer over, was my list of Contacts. Thankfully, that too, was very straightforward.

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In case you missed it, Creative Studio has just been updated to bring back Color Pop. This feature lets you create black and white images with the exception of certain objects. If done correctly, you can come up with some awesome photos. I walked around New York City today and took some photos with the Lumia 1520. Check out some of the images I've created and my 5 tips with Color Pop.

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Beginner's Tips Series!

Previously, we took a look at different methods of creating screenshots on the Surface Pro 3 and other Windows 8 devices, some of which automatically saved to a subfolder in the Pictures directory called Screenshots. This folder gets created the first time you use the Home (Windows) button + Down Volume to make a screen grab and becomes the default folder going forward.

You may decide that for ease of use or organizational purposes that you want to change the default folder where these files are saved. If that is the case, fear not, you can easily change it. Furthermore, this procedure is not limited to your Screenshots folder. It will work with just about any of your default folders, like Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos. However, for the sake of continuity, we will stick with the Screenshots folder.

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Four different ways to do a Windows 8 screenshot

Beginner's Tips Series!

There are tons of reasons why you might want to capture an image on your Surface Pro 3, or other Windows 8 computer. Maybe you want to preserve a pic of your high score for posterity. Perhaps your IT guy won't accept "My Outlook isn't working" as a legitimate gripe and wants a screenshot of the error message. Or just maybe, you write for a technology website and often find yourself needing images when creating "How To's" for your readers.

Whatever the reason, Windows 8 makes is super easy to getting a pic of your screen. If you are new to Windows 8.1 or have a Surface Pro 3, you may be wondering what your screenshot options are, so we break 'em down for you.

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Today, Microsoft unveiled their Windows Technical Preview for the new Windows 10 operating system. There are obviously plenty of questions from users about upgrading to the Preview, and one of those has to deal with the Modern Start Screen.

If like me, you installed the Technical Preview but you would like to get back the Modern Start Screen, here is a quick and easy way to make that happen.

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When the World Cup ended, I became highly interested in watching more football (soccer) games. Friends who follow football more than me said I have to check out the English Premier League (premierleague.com). I'm in luck because NBC here in the United States has acquired rights to broadcast all the games. Their app, NBC Sports Live Extra, is also available on Windows Phone so you can stream the games live or watch replays and highlights.

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Don't know what the word means? Just ask Cortana

As Microsoft and the Cortana team continue to refine the powerful AI and assistant, more features are slowly popping up online. A new one noticed by numerous people in our audience is definitions, powered by Oxford Dictionaries.

Load up Cortana and directly ask her 'What does _____ mean?' alternatively, 'What is the meaning of ____?' and the personal assistant from 500 years in the future pulls up a nice little card, complete with the word category and multiple definitions while exclaiming "I've found the meaning of…".

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The most recent update to the evolving Skype client for Windows Phone brought location sharing, a useful feature if you use Skype for frequent peer to peer messaging.

Users can just tap the '+' sign and instead of sharing a photo, they can choose their position, creating a little map and a hyperlinked address within the chat. Tapping that address brings up a full-screen map and you can then use the up arrow icon near the top to send to the Windows Phone mapping system to get directions to the location.

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Xbox One SmartGlass is probably the best app to have on your Windows Phone if you have an Xbox One. The app is incredibly useful and gains new functionality with nearly regular monthly updates. Recently, Microsoft introduced the ability to buy and purchase games and game add-ons using SmartGlass. A few of you still aren't too sure how to do that, so here's a quick guide on how to install stuff to your Xbox One without being anywhere near your Xbox One.

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Top Spider-Man Unlimited tips and tricks

Spider-Man Unlimited is the latest endless runner from mobile gaming giant Gameloft. The game's premise involves Spider-Men and villains from various universes converging into a single universe. With slick production values and dozens of different Spider-Men to collect, Unlimited is a real treat for fans of the web-slinger.

Want to get ahead on the Spider-Man Unlimited leaderboards and fill out your roster with Spidey's coolest costumes? Our latest tips and tricks guide will teach you the best ways to spend your time and energy while thwarting the plans of the Sinister Six.

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Microsoft, like most companies who run an app store, on occasion has problems with fake or malicious apps. You know, the ones that purport to be official, but charge you money upfront without a trial, something even more egregious for already free services.

I have seen a lot of teeth gnashing over this and lots of "look at THIS example!" posts. Even Microsoft has recently chimed in to say they are going to be doing more. But you play a role too.

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Data Sense is a vital Windows Phone 8.1 tool for many who like to keep track of how much data their phone consumes each month. Even more, the gizmo gives users the ability to restrict background data when roaming, set data limits, and see which apps grabs the most data.

Earlier this week, Microsoft released a companion app for Data Sense called IE Data Savings. The app taps into Data Sense but gives users a more detailed analysis of their Internet Explorer web usage. The app is free, and it should work all phones with the Windows Phone 8.1 OS installed.

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One of the great features in Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to restore from a backup when setting up a new device. Everything from your Start screen layout to the apps themselves and even some settings can all be 'restored' if you ever change devices, or wish to hard-reset and start anew.

However, a few people have noticed that under Settings > Backup, there is an error message noting that the last backup attempt has failed. Even more worrisome, you may not even know it. Yikes! The good news is there is a fast and simple way to get this fixed, and you may want to double check that your OS is backed up. Here's how.

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As Microsoft continually improves their new Cortana voice-assistant, users are discovering more novice features every day. Recently, we covered all the new songs Cortana can either sing (or semi-sing), and today we are learning that she can now tell you the time or convert currencies.

Just by asking Cortana "What time is it?" and the assistant fetches you the present time. Although she does not yet read it out loud, making this new find slightly less useful. Actually, asking Cortana the current time itself is redundant since it likely your phone already has an up-to-date clock (especially since with Update 1, the OS can synchronize over Wi-Fi for the current time).

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Cortana has new songs, but she can't sing them yet

It looks like Cortana is learning new songs. She has been able to sing for a while now, but asking her recently has resulted in new songs. There's a little problem, though. She doesn't actually sing them out. Instead, many of the songs are read aloud. Perhaps she's in the middle of rehearsing them? Go ahead and try asking her with your Windows Phone device. We've tried it ourselves on the Nokia Lumia 930. Watch the video!

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How to get an Uber car with Cortana

You have probably heard of Uber by now. It's a transportation network company that connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire in over 70 cities. We were very excited when the official app returned to Windows Phone and we have been using it frequently. Windows Phone users also get treated to a very cool integration with Cortana. You can ask her to grab you an Uber car!

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How to force close an Xbox One game or app

One of our favorite features on the Xbox One is the ability to resume games even after turning off the system. It's really handy at finishing single player games after being interrupted by errands. But once in a blue moon, we notice games getting stuck at the splash screen when attempting to resume after startup. Want to know a quick fix? Force close the game! We'll show you how simple it is on the Xbox One.

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When it comes to mobile operating systems, Windows Phone has a solid reputation for stability. As a result, the need to reset the OS to rid the phone of bugs or start anew is rare. Still, there may be occasions where you want to return the device to the state you bought it in from the Store.

Here are two ways to do that for the HTC One for Windows.

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Using the HTC One M8 for Windows as a TV remote

Did you know that the HTC One M8 for Windows can control your TV? The One – both on Android and Windows Phone – comes with an infrared (IR) blaster built into the top of the device. Combined with their HTC Sense TV app and your One goes from a smartphone to a smart-remote.

See how it works in our hands on video.

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