Windows Phone Help & How-to

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Synchronising Windows Phone on a Windows PC or Mac

How does one synchronise content between a Windows Phone and a Windows PC or Mac? Microsoft is continuously developing two separate clients, one for each platform, enabling consumers to charge, synchronise, update and backup their Windows Phone. While both clients are not identical in features and functionality, basic tasks can still be completed.

Moving content between smartphones and computers on competing mobile platforms is pretty much identical to Windows Phone. Apple makes use of iTunes for its management of the iPhone (as well as media players and other devices), while Android opts for a more integrated experience through the use of a file manager.  

So how does one get started with available clients?

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There's a lot of excitement in the air with the new Windows Phone 8 devices that are now on the Market. Part of that excitement centers around Windows Phone photography.  With it's Pureview Camera, the Nokia Lumia 920 has definitely sparked this interest.

While there is room for improvement, the Lumia 920's camera is capable of capturing quality photographs. With interest high, we'll walk you through the settings on the Lumia 920 to give you a feel for what each does.  While the nomenclature will be similar for HTC Windows Phone cameras, we'll take a look at the HTC 8X and get a similar guide up shortly.

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We’ve already shown a video with a Lumia 920 guts displayed, but it wasn’t a pleasant sight (I personally cringe when people destroy phones for no purpose). Now we’ve got a video where you can see the insides of your Espoo flagship device, but in a much more civilized manner. We’ve got a video of the process to disassemble and assemble a Lumia 920, in great detail too.  

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As if you needed another reason why the Windows Phone Central forums are the best around. You can head there to find all sorts of information and perks. Sometimes developers will recruit users to test drive an upcoming app for them. You can also find the latest and greatest apps that nobody knows about or just kick it with like-minded smartphone users. Then there are times like today where you get awesome tutorials like this one to completely switch from Gmail to Outlook.

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Push notifications (also called toast notifications) are those pop-up messages you get from certain apps – the ones that say you’ve got a game invite, a weather alert, a new tweet, etc. Even if you don’t have an app that supports them, you’ve probably seen them appear whenever you get a text message or voice mail.

Windows Phone 7 always had issues with push notifications though. Not the hardwired SMS alerts and such, but pushes from games and apps. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t, and everyone’s experience seemed to differ.

When Windows Phone 8 rolled around, we hoped that would change. Unfortunately, at first glance it did not (for games, at least). While the pushes from recent Xbox WP release AlphaJax have driven some WP7 users crazy, some Lumia 920 owners like me simply haven’t seen those notifications (and yet others have). Thankfully, pushes aren’t completely broken on WP8. They’re just bugged, and there is a way around it.

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Tip: How to protect your Wallet in Windows Phone 8

Purchasing apps and games on a Windows Phone is an absolute breeze. Trials are a unique opportunity for developers to allow consumers to download and "try" their work before committing to a purchase. But with the speedy process in purchasing apps from the Store, should there be some level of protection for credit cards that are attached to a Microsoft Account?

Currently, anyone who has access to a Windows Phone that has a Microsoft Account loaded with valid credit cards for transactions can head into the Store and engage in a shopping spree - this isn't a good situation to be in but it can occur with children or other folk who borrow a smartphone for a few minutes. Luckily, Microsoft has a solution for this issue.

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In a fun from the forums thread, we have an interesting conversation about something even we’ve witnessed: the Nokia Lumia 920 slipping and sliding off of seemingly flat surfaces, often crashing to the ground.

Forum member Cheyenne Price started a thread and even posted a video on his Facebook documenting the phenomenon (video after the break). The video starts with this 920 placed faced down on his Dell laptop, firmly in the center and flat on a desk. Yet within moments you can see the 920 spin around and then slowly begin to creep towards the corner.

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While some Windows Phone photography apps have a sharing feature native to the application some, such as Cinemagraph (here's our review), don't. In these cases you rely on your Windows Phone Pictures Hub options to share these images.

You've just created a fantastic animated GIF through Cinemagraph and are eager to share it with friends or family. Once the image is saved to your Windows Phone, head over to your Pictures Hub and go into the Camera Roll gallery. Find the Cinemagraph image you want to share, pull it up to full view and tap the three dot menu.

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Got a Nokia phone and want to keep up-to-date on news about it without seeing what you missed on their Twitter feed? If so, you can sign up for their new Tweetsender service, which will send you direct messages on Twitter any time they have news related to your model Nokia. The messages you receive will include bits about anything from accessories, to apps to software updates.

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Probably the toughest problem any new user faces when switching platforms is finding comparable apps on their new OS. Sure, we have the Windows Phone Central forums to help and we try to do what we can here, but Nokia has something even better.

Nokia, in conjunction with Xyologic, have teamed up to bring a site called Find your Favorite Apps (www.xyo.net/lumia) that allows you to name the platform you’re coming from (iPhone, Android), choose one of 15 supported countries and then the app you are looking to pick up. The service then searches database and comes up with what it thinks is the best choice. Heck, it even auto-creates a QR code for quick and easy scanning.

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On Windows Phone it’s really easy to toggle between Ringer and Vibrate—simply press the volume key (up or down) and then tap the bell in the upper right hand corner to switch. But what about getting it to silent mode?

It’s a little tricky but easy once you understand how it works: Simply head to Settings –> Ringtones + Sounds and toggle the Vibrate function off. Now, when you tap the bell in the upper right hand corner, it will switch between Ringer + Silent. Sure, we wish there was an easier way to toggle between all three (ringer, vibrate and silent) but this is Microsoft’s current paradigm so that’s what we have to use.

Should Microsoft offer a third tap to toggle vibrate on or off? Let us know in the poll after the break. And make sure you check out our other tips and tricks.

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Bring back native Maps on Nokia Windows Phones

Recently on the Windows Phone Central Podcast we were lamenting how Nokia Maps leaves a lot to be desired on Windows Phone 8. The app is a bit slow, the UI is not as intuitive and some of the information (like traffic) is hit or miss. Most people would suggest using Bing Maps (aka the native Maps application) instead but unfortunately, Nokia has removed the hard link for that app leaving users no choice on Windows Phone 8 Lumias.

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One of the troubles with running a dedicated Windows Phone site is that you need to cater to the pro users and the new folks who have just picked up their first device. This post is for them, the new people.

On Windows Phone 8 you may often see a little dot-in-a-circle icon appear in the upper right hand side on your screen. It seemingly pops up randomly and due to the amount of forum threads on the matter, it has caused some confusion. So what is it?...

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Google and Windows Phone haven’t always had the rosiest of relationships. Head to the Marketplace and you’ll find a whopping single app from the Mountain View tech giant. Whatever, we can do without them and their 1st party support when we have developers picking up the slack. However, a lot of you still rely on Gmail as your web email and have no plans to switch to Outlook anytime soon. So here is a super simple trick to make your experience a bit better on your new Lumia 920 or 8X.

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Setting up a Microsoft Account for Windows Phone 8

So you’re currently looking forward to receiving / purchasing your Windows Phone 8 handset, or have just unboxed the device, but what’s to take in before getting started? While Microsoft services are recommended over competitors to further enhance the experience and overall functionality available, they're not a requirement.

You don’t have to go all out Windows should you choose not to. In fact, Microsoft has made it so you can continue residing in an competitor dominated home while being able to make the most of what Windows Phone has to offer. So what are the Microsoft equivalents of what you may already be using on a daily basis?

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Windows Phone Trick: Add Emoticons to your Contacts

If you want to add a little something something to your contacts, we ran across a way to add emoticons to your contact's name over in the Windows Phone Central Forums. All you need to do is start a text message and add the emoticon of your choice.

From there, highlight and copy that emoticon. Leave the text message and go to your Peoples Hub, find the contact and choose to edit the name. Add a space at the end of the last name and paste the emoticon.  It's a neat way to add a little customization to your contacts.

Edit: As noted in comments by hopmedic, to prevent it from breaking voice dialling, put the emoticons in the last name field, but put a hyphen after the last name, and then the emoticons.

Thanks, danclyons, for the tip!

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Ever since Windows Phone 8 came out people have rightly wanted Skype. And so they got it, albeit a preview edition which in our vernacular reads ‘beta’ and beta it is.

Previously we’ve passed on a few tips for people who have had battery issues and we can absolutely confirm one of them now: Skype. No, it doesn’t occur often in fact this was our first time with the problem ever since Skype hit the Store a few weeks ago.

The issue started when we were updating some contact info and then we force synced our Microsoft Account under Settings (hold down the account, hit Sync). Only problem was, it wouldn’t stop ...ever.

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Speech has always been a part of Windows Phone and it has offered some nice ways of interacting with your handset by using your voice alone.

We have put together a guide that should suit those that are new to Windows Phone and also to those that have upgraded to Windows Phone 8. Interacting with voice recognition and commands can be a powerful and time saving way to use your phone efficiently and even safely.

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Windows Phone 8 Quick Tip: Audible Caller ID

One of the new  renovated features of Windows Phone 8 is the audible Caller ID. But not everyone wants their Windows Phone to announce incoming calls. Sure it's a neat feature but can be annoying and not really appropriate in certain situations.  But how do you disable this feature?

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While we’ve shot video on the Nokia Lumia 920 a few times under somewhat ideal conditions e.g. quiet, well lit, there’s a good argument to be made that we haven’t seen too many “real world” examples.

From our Lumia 920 forums, member ‘mercilesskiller’ posted this YouTube video clip of a Seether concert at the Manchester Academy 2, Manchester UK. While the clip is only 58 seconds long and shot in 720P (the Lumia 920 can be bumped to 1080P), the result is quite stunning...

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Tip: How to fix a bricked Nokia Lumia 920

Some of you in the forums and comments have been noting that you are getting a "bricked" Lumia 920's after doing a reset. The term is technically not correct here as you can revive the phone with a neat little trick. The fix reported so far was just returning the device to the store, which is far from ideal especially if you bought it online. Thankfully, the Windows Phone Central Forums came through with a trick that should get your bricked 920 back up and running.

The instructions are detailed and concise and include a video to help get you back in the game. Read on to fix it. 

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We recently reported that magnetic lens adapters made by a third party and commonly available for general smartphones work well on the Nokia Lumia 920. Truth be told while they do stick naturally to the 920 without a magnetic ring adapter, it doesn’t work too well meaning they easily slip off. Because of this we actually recommend using the sticky magnetic rings to ensure a firm grip by the lens adapter on the 920.

Anyway, we figured we would put the lens adapters through some testing and after the break, you can see our photo and video results. In short, we were impressed.

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We heard and experienced for ourselves some rather crummy battery life with the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone. It's a mixed bag of results with some report fantastic battery performance while others are struggling to make it through half a day.

While Nokia is looking into things, they've reminded us that managing the apps that are running in the background could help with battery life.  And this power saving technique isn't exclusive to the Lumia Windows Phones.  If you want to conserve power on your HTC 8X or Samsung Focus 2, shut down some of the apps you don't need that are still running in the background.

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If there is one area we hope to see Windows Phone grow in 2013 it's in third party accessories. Nokia's Lumia phones have the best chance of that since they're quite pervasive and well known as far as branding.

Redditor l1v32r1d3BmX (catchy name, dear sir!) has serendipitously discovered that those iPhone lens attachments (which work by magnetic adhesion) also happen to work on his Lumia 920. The attachments are made by a few companies--a lot coming from China as cheap knock offs--allow wide-angle and macro enhancements to the built in camera. As it happens to be, the Lumia 920's camera housing is magnetic, which is either due to design or perhaps the optical image stabilization (OIS) setup. 

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