Windows Phone Help & How-to

There are so many new features in Windows Phone 8.1. Of course Cortana and the notification center will steal the headlines, but it’s the other features that help make this a momentous update. We’re going to highlight quiet hours and show you how to get the most out of it. Quiet hours is the new “do not disturb” feature in Windows Phone 8.1 that’s powered by Cortana.

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The Windows Phone keyboard became even better with the 8.1 update. A few enhancements that you may not know about include auto-importing of names from your contacts, which improves the auto-complete feature in Word Flow. Another is the awesome Shape writing, which we’ve come to love in our daily usage.

But what about swearing? (Warning: curse words ahead).

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For those in the US whom also have Windows Phone 8.1 installed, Cortana is probably one of your most frequented new features on your phone. If you’re outside the US, you’ll have to wait a little longer for Microsoft to localize your language (unless you follow our simple tutorial).

When sharing images of my 8.1 screen, a lot of people have asked me why I pin Cortana as a wide Tile. After all, I could just hit the dedicated Search key (Tip: you can long press the Search key on the Lock screen to call up Cortana). On the surface, it’s seems like a simple question, but I’ll explain why if you have Cortana, making her a permanent Tile on your screen may be a good idea.

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Windows Phone 8.1, released yesterday through the Preview for Developer program, sure has a lot of new features. We tried to document most, if not all, of those in our colossal review/overview of the OS, but as suspected some items will fall through the cracks.

Reader of the site Nicholas M. brought to our attention that 8.1 not only has independent volume levels for Ringer + Notifications versus Media + Apps, but also a separate volume slider for headphones. We looked into the finding and also discovered that there’s a fourth volume slider, one for Bluetooth.

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While I totally love the messaging app on Windows Phone, sometimes long, meandering conversations can be annoying with their constant alerts. I’d rather text passively when I choose to, rather then get distracted by a ping every second.

Apart from the plethora of big feature additions that you’ve been reading about at Windows Phone Central, Windows Phone 8.1 has also introduced a nifty feature that allows you to mute text message threads. As far as we know, no other smartphone platforms has this useful feature, making it quite interesting for Windows Phone users.

Let's take a look at how it works!

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Cortana is a super useful personal assistant now available for Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft released the Preview for Developers today and we're sure you're all eagerly wanting to test out the Halo AI on your smartphone.

But how does one manage to interact with Cortana when it's only available within the US, at least for the time being? After a few simple steps to alter your region and language settings, it's possible to get Cortana working outside the states. Read on past the break for all the details!

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Windows Phone 8.1 brings a wealth of new features and improvements to the table. Some of these changes are meant to bring Windows Phone more in-line with Windows 8. The more closely the two operating systems resemble each other, the easier it is for users to transition between phone, tablet, and PC. And of course, any such changes would qualify as improvements even if you’ve never touched a Windows 8 device. Microsoft is simply smart enough to pick and choose better implementations where they see them.

One such change comes with Windows Phone 8.1’s new and improved search feature. The Search button and Cortana app (US only) now searches not only the web for queries but also the user’s actual phone (much like Windows 8 and RT). This makes it easier than ever to find specific information and files on your phone. Even the actual web search results share a cleaner, slicker look as well. Head past the break to see how convenient searching can be on Windows Phone 8.1.

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With Windows Phone 8.1 being released today to those participating the Preview for Developers program, there is a lot to chew on. I wrote about the OS in a 5,500 word review and overview, but there’s so much in there, I figured you folks needed some quick tips on features you may not have known about!

Head past the break to see our eight must-know tips for Windows Phone 8.1!

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Here's how to do a screenshot in Windows Phone 8.1

One of the many welcomed features with Windows Phone 8 was the ability to capture a screenshot from your Windows Phone. For those of us who write about Windows Phones it was a fantastic feature to allow us to better illustrate what we write about.

For the average consumer, having the ability to capture a screenshot can come in handy in the same manner. You can share a screen capture of your high score, a glitch in the programming or for those times you just want to share screens that appear on your Windows Phone.

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When it comes to Microsoft’s Xbox Music, it’s certainly a work in progress. Setting up a globally competitive, all-in-one, music streaming and shopping service is certainly no small task. The service itself sports one of the largest collections of music, giving users the ability to stream or buy songs with one or two clicks. But what if your favorite band or album is not available?

Luckily, there’s an easy trick for telling Microsoft exactly what they are missing, giving them the ability to focus resources on getting that selection.

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How to manage devices connected to Xbox Music

Microsoft’s Xbox Music streaming service is free for everyone with a Microsoft account to use. It’s also available cross-platform, on both Android and iOS as well as Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone (plus the web).

Today we’ll be taking a quick look at how to efficiently manage devices connected to an Xbox Music subscription.

Purchasing the Xbox Music Pass

Priced at $9.99 (or $99.99 per year), the Xbox Music subscription opens up a whole new world for consumers. Adverts are removed for you to enjoy a seamless experience, whether you’re on a Windows 8 tablet, iPhone or gaming on the Xbox One. Fully synchronized libraries and playlists join offline downloads.

It’s easy to get started with the pass too. Simply head to the Xbox Music website or purchase the subscription through any of the published Xbox Music apps. Job done.

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Some will argue that you can never have enough storage memory on your Windows Phones. It seems to take no time at all to fill up the eight, sixteen or even thirty-two gigabytes of storage on our Windows Phones. We often install apps and games that begin to collect dust after a few days, never delete photos, and often have several music albums worth of songs. All of which take up valuable memory space.

Some Windows Phone models have expansion card slots to help with storage needs but even that relief has restrictions. So, how do you manage your Windows Phone storage memory? For those who struggle with keeping enough storage space free on your Windows Phone, we’ve got a few suggestions that might help you manage your memory better.

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Last week, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.1 to the world. We gave you numerous video tours of the OS, and we’re sure you watched Joe Belfiore's on stage demonstration of Cortana. Microsoft also announced that the Preview for Developers Program will go live for 8.1 "sometime in April". That program will allow you to install the 8.1 update early on any Windows Phone 8 device. Every. Single. One.

What is this program? How can you prepare for it before it arrives? Head past the break for all you need to know!

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Customizing your Windows Phone Lockscreen

Our Windows Phone lockscreen serves two purposes. It gives us an opportunity to glance at key information without having to unlock our Windows Phone and it affords us an opportunity to stylize our phone’s appearance.

Through the native lockscreen settings you have the ability to customize the wallpaper that will appear and tweak what bits of information will appear. In addition to the native Windows Phone lockscreen settings, there are plenty of apps available in the Windows Phone Store to let you customize your lockscreen further.

While this may be old hat to some, we’ll touch base on a few of the options available to customize your Windows Phone lockscreen after the break.

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The official Facebook app for Windows Phone, developed by Microsoft, is a sweet client for those who simply cannot live without being notified about when friends are playing Farmville. Should you be new to Windows Phone and/or the Facebook app, we have you covered with five tips you may not know about the app.

Can’t see some messages? Check the "other" folder

Facebook splits your inbox into two areas – inbox and an ‘other’ folder. The primary inbox stores all messages received from your friends and family. What this folder does not contain are messages from Facebook users who you have not yet connected with. This is where the other folder comes into play.

It’s essentially a junk/filer system designed to prevent your main inbox from being flooded with messages, should you be a popular soul of course. If you happen to find yourself searching for a message and cannot locate it, check the other folder by hitting the Switch icon in the messages view (the icon with arrows pointing in opposite directions).

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Shuffling through the World Wide Web to find what you need can be a daunting process. Whether it's from your Windows Phone or Windows 8 computer. Luckily, thanks to search engines like Microsoft’s Bing – you can find what you need and quickly. The problem is that if you are used to typing in simple queries like “How can I obtain Rich’s awesome accent?” you are still faced with hundreds of thousands of search results.

Today, we are going to stop the horror and make you the master of Bing by teaching you “advanced operator references” – think of what we are about to teach you as a secret language to master Microsoft’s search engine. Today, you master Bing search – tomorrow, you take over the world.

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While the release of Windows Vista was plagued with burden and its legacy was remembered as such, one excellent feature to rise out of the wreckage has served its way through Windows 7 up to current day Windows 8 operating systems. The feature that we are referring to is, of course, Microsoft’s BitLocker Drive Encryption – full disk encryption at the click of a button.

WARNING: Disk Encryption is a delicate process, please be sure to backup your data before beginning. WPCentral, Mobile Nations, Smartphone Experts are not responsible for any data loss caused by a failure to read instructions carefully or ignoring our recommendation to backup ALL of your data before beginning. Please be sure to read the entire article before beginning your encryption journey. If you have doubts about anything, please ask in the comments below before proceeding.

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There will be a time in life when you need to block someone, be it a cold sales contact or someone who may be harassing you. Unfortunately, Windows Phone 8 doesn't currently have a built-in blocking feature to prevent numbers from sending messages to your smartphone, nor can the operating system halt calls in their tracks. But Microsoft did make tools for manufacturers to enable this feature, should they want to make it for their customers.

This is where Nokia came in with its 'call + SMS filter', which launched on Windows Phone 8 last year for Lumia devices (Samsung has it in their ATIV line of Windows Phones too).

We'll quickly walk you through how to set everything up, just in case you've yet to fire up the filter settings area for the first time.

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Top 7 Bing features that we can’t do without

All of us here at Windows Phone Central use Bing for our day-to-day searches, and we are positive that most of our readers do also. For those of you who have installed the Google Search app onto your Windows Phone or Windows 8 machine, we will try not to judge you. Despite your choice of search engine, we reached out to the community to find out what your favorite Bing features are, and presented them in our beautiful typeface below.

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Spring is quickly approaching and with the warm weather, everyone will start finding their way outdoors and our Windows Phone cameras will become more active. We’ll be shooting pics of flowers, the kids running around the back yard, little league ball games, vacation spots and other warm weather hot spots.

These photos are important to you and should something happen to your Windows Phone, you would want them backed up, right? Well, for those new to Windows Phone (and those who have forgotten) there is an easy way to back up your photos.

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How to enable the black accent color on Windows Phone

When choosing accent colors for your Windows Phone, you’re not going to see the color black. There’s still a way to get that color, though, and Windows Phone veterans probably know this trick already. Are you new to Windows Phone and want to know how? Head past the break and follow the steps in our video.

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Using YouTube in Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 8 can be a bit of a pain. The mobile website is barebones and doesn’t work as well as it should. And as you know, YouTube has yet to release a competent native app for Windows Phone users. Their loss since we’re getting by fine with stellar apps like Metrotube and myTube.

However, every now and then you end up on YouTube in the browser. Maybe you clicked a link in a tweet or someone sent a link in an email. You’re now about to watch a YouTube video with poor playback controls and no option for 720p video. Or are you? Probably not if you’re a fan of Metrotube. You can now open YouTube links in Metrotube with minimal effort. Details on how below.

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The Windows Phone Store has nearly every major music platform available, with the obvious exception of official iTunes or Google Play apps. You’ll find Xbox Music, Beats Music, Songza, Spotify, and more available to you as a Windows Phone (and probable Windows 8) user.

However odds are a lot of you are rocking out to Xbox Music on Windows Phone. It is of course the native music application available and built-in to Windows Phone 8. If you’re a power user you probably know the ins and outs of how Xbox Music works on both Windows Phone and Windows 8. If you’re not a power user, then this article is for you. Here’s how to create and manage playlists with Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.

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The Xbox One controller is one of the finest control pads ever designed. The same goes for the Titanfall Limited Edition Controller we just reviewed. But one flaw compared to Xbox 360 controllers is that Xbox One controllers don’t work on computers and tablets. Blame Microsoft, who have yet to release a PC driver even though it would take virtually no effort to do so.

Luckily, a hobbyist developer named Lucas Assis has developed a temporary Xbox One controller driver for Windows 7 and 8. It doesn't work on Windows RT, so this won't help regular Surface users. His solution requires the use of several companion programs (bundled with the driver) and a few quarts of elbow grease, but it does actually work. Until now, you’d have to endure a somewhat painful tutorial video in order to guide you through the process. Lucky for you guys, I’ve gone through that already so that we can bring you this easy-to-understand written guide!

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When Microsoft released the Xbox One back in November of 2013, the console came without the ability to play multimedia from an external device, such as a flash drive. It seemed that the ultimate entertainment console would not be able to play any of your personal content and instead you would be locked to approve multimedia apps on the platform, but that is not the case.

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