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A simple Bing search reveals hidden USB settings on Windows Phone 8.1

A new USB feature for Windows Phone 8.1 has been revealed in a simple Bing search. Found in our forums by Manikanta R., the trick brings up a hidden USB menu that allows you to enable two new features, including ‘Ask me before using USB data connection’ and ‘Notify me when I connect to a slower charger’.

Indeed, we can confirm from our unsanctioned ‘early look’ at Windows Phone 8.1 using a developer device, that these USB options were there under the Settings menu. They were removed (or hidden) in the reviewer build that we received and also in the Preview release.

It’s not clear why this feature was hidden, though if we had to guess it has to do with specific OEM hardware needing to be configured to fully leverage it. That is, we should expect this feature to return once official updates with the corresponding firmware begins to rollout in the coming weeks.

Hidden USB

To see the feature yourself, it’s super easy:

  1. Launch Bing or Cortana
  2. Type in ‘USB’
  3. Swipe left to ‘phone’
  4. Tap Settings > USB

What is happening is Bing/Cortana is doing a search on the device, which is now part of Windows Phone 8.1, and it is showing a previously hidden function.

As to whether or not the feature works or if there are negative consequences, we are not sure, so please exercise some caution.

To learn more, head into our Windows Phone 8.1 forums and to this thread:

Need more Windows Phone 8.1 tips or tricks? Visit and bookmark our topic page!

  • Windows Phone 8.1 Tips, Tricks and How To

Thanks, Vaibhav S., for the tip!

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

140 Comments
  • This is crazy
  • No, this is Sparta. No, wait.....
  • You made me laugh. Thank you.
  • Lol Nice one
  • So happy this was referenced rather than 'call me maybe'
  • No, this is Patrick
  • LOL...2 points for the SpongeBob reference..
  • ROTFL!
  • As simple as it was that was actually funny
  • So if you type "email" into Cortana and swipe from left.....
  • It brings up your email... and...?
  • And just didn't know searches showed phone as an option. Am I slow......
  • I barely found out that too
  • and there i thought u were going to say something nasty...
  • Magic
  • Type "NETWORK PROFILE" and u will get some weird settings and enter the setting and see what happens!!
    That is crazy!!
  • Can't open that?
  • Cool!
  • On my L820 it just freezed after I enabled the USB settings... I had to remove the battery to make It work and after restarting it started scanning my SD card for errors....
  • No problems here
  • Nice
  • I wanna make a N64 emulator :P
  • Without dynarec it's going to run painfully slow...
  • What's that?
  • What do I gotta do to make it happen in the windows app market place I wanna make one since no one has yet
  • If you have to ask that question, you're not capable of designing one
  • I'll make one
  • Yeah, lemme know how that goes.
  • How hard can it be and if I do it I'll eventually get it lol
  • Gus to SpongeBob: "Hey, I doubt it! [walks off]"
  • I think this is very rude. I know that as a chemical engineer I can not know much of something going into a job, but the basics of starting, but getting training and advice from someone always benefits me and in the end helps me do a better job. Dont be an asshole. He's learning and wants to learn.
  • So, by your logic, I can just ask you questions about your profession and become a fully fledged chemical engineer? Awesome, that's handy. Teach me.
  • Lol with that mind set you will just live an ordinary life
  • You know the people that worked for Henry Ford back n the day told him that a V8 engine was impossible to make well he made it happen anyway it took a couple years but it was made
  • And used in most cars sold today. No, wait :P
  • well it did give way to a v12 for those super cars...
  • Very true just look at history and all the people who thought most stuff couldn't happen until believers pushed them to doing great things just think most billionaires today didn't get a full education some of the greatest inventors didn't even go to college or even graduate high school
  • I want to make a PS4 emulator
  • I want a cappuccino, off to Costa then :D
  • with the architecture it might actually be easier, except you might need a couple phones linked together to run pacman...
  • Very useful when it comes to slow chargers, I'll test this when I get home. I have a few charges that are very slow to charge my 925. If I'm using my phone while charging it'll die on me.
  • Please post if you see a notification when you connect to the slow charger. Thx in advance!
  • At work I sometimes use my old BB charger. I always thought it seemd slow. I just plugged it in and didn't get any sort of notification. Though that doesn't really prove or disprove anything.
  • Wow, this feature was revealed long time ago. Why we never remember to check it out until now?
  • Because no one found it until now. We knew it was a rumor, but the proof was in the Preview. In this case though...it wasn't.
  • This setting is in the WP 8.1 SDK and has been since its release. I remembered it and also noticed it wasnt available in the dev preview but i didnt think anything of it.
  • Just like it says in the article
  • Where does it say anything about the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK in the article?
  • "Indeed, we can confirm from our unsanctioned ‘early look’ at Windows Phone 8.1 using a developer device, that these USB options were there under the Settings menu. They were removed (or hidden) in the reviewer build that we received and also in the Preview release."
  • SDK and developer device are not the same thing. SDK is Software Development Kit, software and not a device at all. Windows Phone 8.1 SDK runs on Windows and SDK wasn't mentioned in the article.
  • Seems faster
  • But I thought everything in the 8.1 preview was finalized? I thought they weren't going to change or edit anything in the OS and that everyone working at MS was just sitting there doing nothing until it releases? Isn't that what RTM means? /s EDIT: Just in case some of you miss the /S.
  • Well, you'd be wrong... :)
  • First of all, there is no RTM of the Windows Phone OS. There are like 5 builds of Update 3 if check Microsoft's site. So no, that is incorrect. Microsoft does not use the term 'RTM' with WP. Source: I asked. Second, features are hidden or not working yet due to firmware. E.g. How's that Miracast thing going for ya? It's probably the same here, with firmware needing to enable some of these features, since this is hardware related.
  • I find it hilarious that there are so many comments on both this site and the Windows phone subreddit, adamant that all these bugs and things that need to be worked on are just being ignored by Microsoft and that there won't be any changes before actual release.
  • Everybody wears a Microsoft name tag on Reddit. And most still run a Dell with preloaded version of Windows XP too.
  • I know this reply is out of place but did anyone notice change in charging pattern after this? I plugged in regular 1.3A nokia charger when Batt was 9%. It jumped to 41% in just 2 min. Moreover, kept it charging for 1 more hour after 100%.   And still it jumped to 99% in just 4 hours instead 6hrs regular time (no usage inbetween).   Anyone facing smae issue?
  • Just read what you have written - 'preview was finalized' :) And you're actually right, the preview version has been finalized and developers can use it, but before preview and public availability there will definitely be some tunes/fixes based on collected feedback, one of them was announced on Microsoft Answers just week ago or so.
  • Yes, its called Triage. Based on severity, risk and the passion of the people who are in the room at the time, bugs of importance will continue to get fixed. But there is always a cut off point, after which re-evaluation will occur for the next build.
  • Awesomeeee
  • tl;dr
  • You can access directly if you type USB Settings, and Cortana shows you a tip ;)
  • Coming weeks ? I believe you meant coming months
  • Weeks for some, months for others. I've said May 31 in the past, and that's in just 5 weeks.
  • I understand that but judging from my past experience it doesn't really come out to the whole world on the same day. I live in the middle east so I'll have to wait a bit longer
  • Where in Middle east are you? In Lebanon and Dubai we usually get them the same day or max a week later.
  • In Bahrain actually
  • That's strange, I had the 800 and got the 920 from day one. The only update that arrived a week late was update 3 for the 920, the rest were all on time.
  • I am in Bahrain and i had no issues with my 925, got all the update's the same day. Right now on WP8.1 Developer release. 
  • Christmas is in 35 weeks, independence day in 10...
  • Cool beans!
  • I think Dan might be right. The feature is completely disable for data connection over USB. I just realized though that it might mean the ability to use your computers data connection for internet connectivity on your phone. Either way the phone didnt warn me about connecting.
  • Does wp 8.1 include otg....
  • Dear lord, I hope so.
  • Even if it did have USB otg support, the phone has to be hardware-ready for it too. Some phone motherboards might be USB client only. If there is support, expect a faster drain on the battery while a device with USB otg is playing the host role.
  • I wonder if a search for 'Cortana' on a phone not US configured would bring up Cortana settings...
  • It does indeed. But you cant enable due to region.
  • You can get to quiet hours too cos its linked with Cortana (doesn't work either)
  • Any news on attaching a keyboard or Mouse via OTG
  • No. When I tried OTG, it did not work. Once again, that is most likely heavily dependent on firmware.
  • Right Thanks Really looking forward to that feature
  • Daniel, what about the minimizing onscreen keyboard? Was that setting hidden too?
  • What is OTG?  I tried to connect a barcode scanner via Bluetooth (HID interface) and had no success.  Will firmware fix this as well?  
  • Pretty interesting!! Great find and great tip!
  • But Its not working..:(  
  • So there might be many other settings hidden out there which require firmware update.
  • Nice find! This gave me a prod to see what else you can find using search. Seems you can access quiet hours and cortana settings by searching for them too even if she isn't in your region. Searching for 'NFC' on phones without NFC gives a blank settings page for it :P I'm wondering what else there could be...
     
  • Too scared to try. It is hidden for a reason... what if it is for our own protection?
  • I enabled them both, because I love danger.
  • Daniel why do my comments get deleted? I want my Windows Phone better, and Suggestion Box doesn't help. What do you suggest I do?
  • Utilize the forums on this site. They house a wealth of information and if you can't find what you're looking for, create a new thread.
  • On the Monday of the preview release, I had an HTC 8x phone and the USB setting was actually visible because I remember seeing those options and actually checking the last one. A week later I buy a Nokia icon and I double check after seeing this article and it's not showing. It appears that the HTC phone can see that option and Nokia can't.
  • This is awesome!!
  • OTG?
  • On the go.
  • Yes I knw its 'On The Go' u can read pen drives and external usb devices with it.. I was asking if this USB news has any connection with otg or not
  • Instead of a "slow charger" notification it would be ideal to have a diagnostics option to see charge rate vs draw rate on the battery: http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/sugg...
  • I just typed USB and got an actual suggestion from Bing right away. ^_^
  • What other crazy stuff is hidden under the hood of 8.1?!
  • Well, the other day I came across a Windows 3 emulator...guess it was an Easter Egg...
  • Doesn't seem to do anything for me. Neither of the options rise any notifications or warnings. I tried with slow charger and data connection - nothing happens.
  • Sweetness
  • use cation: translation: toggle the damn thing asap!
  • What is USB DATA COONECTION????
    And What does USB DATA CONNECTION do???
  • OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG OTG 
  • Did you try to connect your flash drive to your WP 8.1 ?
    I'd you did share the results plz!
  • Easter egg? Kind of...
  • That's impressing.... WP central you rock...
  • There's no notification when I plug it in my wall charger, usb 3.0 and usb 2.0.  
  • Do they output different levels?
  • II am thinking its hidden because nokia phones dont have the hardware for it.
  • I think old Xbox music app of WP 8 was better than WP 8.1...
  • and its still there you just need an NFC tag to access it untill someone makes a shortcut app
  • So i can connect an XBOX controller with a cable?
  • That would be awesome but I'm not sure. I would like to be able to use a bluetooth Playstation or Xbox controller to play a console level FIFA game but I don't see that coming for another few years...
  • Hope this means they might bring back the ability to use your PCs internet connection via USB, which was in WP7, but removed since that.
  • That was cool
  • Nice.
  • What is so weird is that I've seen this on my phone.  Perhaps after the first boot only, or after selecting some other option.
  • You can also search for Cortana and it pulls up a settings page. I haven't been able to activate her using previously explained method, so hopefully this may be the way in!
  • +1020
  • I had seen this on leaked screenshots and was very surprised when I didn't find it. Thanks, Daniel!
  • These settings are not hidden in the emulator. See USB item?
  • there's more information here https://dev.windowsphone.com/en-US/OEM/docs/Driver_Components/USB but no idea what it means because i'm not a developer, can someone shed light on this?  
  • Does it mean WP 8.1 supports Usb Otg or usb tethering? If yes, just wow.
  • I don't quite understand how this is significant. FYI, I didn't read the previous comments.
  • We need some one test this feature by connecting any flash drive to the new WP 8.1 and share us with the results of what happened?
  • Actually all this is well documented https://dev.windowsphone.com/en-US/OEM/docs/Driver_Components/USB#datano... In short (tl;dr): The first option is put to comply with certain country regulations where it is required the user is informed that his data will be accessed by the computer. This is reserved for OEM partners to implement and enable the message when they sell the phones on those markets. The "data conection" is simply the access to files from Windows Explorer (or whatever you use) and it is not OTG. -> https://dev.windowsphone.com/en-US/OEM/docs/Customization/Enable_the_dat... There is also a note: This feature is not available on Windows Phone 8 phones that are updated to Windows Phone 8.1. At least it should not be accesible. Also it is specifically said that OTG is not supported! Unsupported features The following features are currently not supported by the USB stack in Windows Phone: USB Host or USB On-The-Go. Switching USB configurations at run time. Alternate interface settings. Interface string descriptors. USB 1.0 low speed (Windows Phone supports full, high speed and super speed only). Interface Association Descriptor (IAD) descriptor. Communication Device Class (CDC) functional descriptor.
  • What else?
  • Coool..
  • What is usb data connection.??
  • TYPE "NETWORK PROFILE" and u will get some weird settings which says to update ur network profile and still there is a error!!!
    ANYONE GOT THIS??
  • https://dev.windowsphone.com/en-US/OEM/docs/Driver_Components/USB
    In this doc it says "This feature is not available on Windows Phone 8 phones that are updated to Windows Phone 8.1."
  • I hope data connection over USB will be enabled. I'm still missing this since the WP7 days. At work I don't have access to WIFI and on WP7 I could still get a data conneciton by connecting via USB. Also thought they would enable the setting to warn when conencted to slower charger straight away. I hope these 2 much needed features are included in a future update.
  • I searched for cortana :-D she was hiding there ;-)
  • A new network profile settings feature for Windows Phone 8.1 has been revealed in a simple Bing search. Found by Me Rajath S the trick brings up a hidden network profile settings menu that allows you to update your network profile if your facing unstable or network problems.
  • NOPE ITS NOT WORKING HERE . ITS SAYS nO RESULTS FOUND FOR USB
  • it must be removed from one of the latest update 1 or the recent one. I'm running on pfd 8.1 with no cyan.
  • I Can't explore my lumia 535 data on windows 7 pc.how to explore data in wondows 7 pc.which drivers are required???
     
  • But will WP support OTG.