Skip to main content

Regional settings and clicking a number to call in IE9

Dialing numbers listed on websites is supposed to be an easy task on Windows Phone. The OS basically highlights the numbers (like a hyperlink) and when you tap them, you get the standard "Edit phone number" screen and the option to call said number. The system is based on detecting sets of 7,10 or 11 numbers with their appropriate hyphens, periods, etc.

Interestingly, some folks at XDA have discovered that this seemingly only works for US devices. More specifically, devices who's 'Region format' settings under 'Region + language' are set for English (United States). Even folks in Canada evidently have this issue which is odd, to say the least.


We tried the list of numbers found in this post at XDA with our US region settings and they all worked fine except for the last number--just as expected. When we switched to Estonia (and rebooted) those numbers were now un-clickable just as others are reporting.

We're hesitant to call this a 'bug' because for all we know Microsoft did this on purpose for some strange reason. Still, if you want this function, you can head to Settings --> Region + Language --> Region Format and change that to English (United States) to get it to work for now as a workaround. And Microsoft, if this isn't on purpose then you may want to fix it for future updates, kthxbai!  As noted in comments, this is actually advertised as a US-only feature by Microsoft so if you want it, you'll have to use the above trick to get it.

Source: XDA; Thanks, James, for the tip!

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

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.

  • This is not a bug. This is intentional and has been known for a long time, at least outside the US. From Tap a phone number. In the United States, you can tap a phone number in text to dial that number. This feature is not available in other countries/regions.
  • Interesting and that explains why Jay didn't even know about it. Updated.
  • I agree. This was long known ever since the first WP7 debuted in 2010.
    And be cautious when setting the "Region format" setting to "English (U.S.)". It will also limit the way dates can be displayed, and changes the way phone numbers are displayed in the contact cards / incoming call screen. This can be undesirable for people outside the U.S. There is a reason this feature is U.S. only, since only US  numbers follow that format (spacing, dashes...etc). Although Microsoft should start detecting phone number formats in other countries when set to another region format too. 
  • However, MS is quite incoherent in this. Outside US phone number highlighting works well inside the email client, but the in-browser function is US only, why?
  • And to add insult to injury we also have no way of pasting in phone numbers im the dialer app! :-P
    So even if I see the phone number on a web site there is no way I can just copy it and layer paste it into the dialer. This in my eyes is an even worse problem. This really stinks. Please fix this pronto Microsoft.
  • Indeed, that's a big request on the official feature request website/app.
  • Totally agree. To not have paste in the phone diaper is just wrong. I'm sure this was available in 6.5.
  • Best is having webdevs to declare them as phone nr links, then it always works. A href=tel:079754311 and it's clickable
  • Still don't understand, why the functionality is only applicable to the US. What is it that we can not have this correct Hyphen functionality. What about Tell Me, Visual Search and Voice Search. All US. It should be just as functional as in the US. Except for the language we are no different. Currently Mango has more of a functionality of the upcoming Tango update, a simplified version of the Mango. Let MS first work on Mango fixes before they move on to Tango.
  • Don't you think that the next update (tango?) are the fixes for mango problems? If you change something, it is no longer what it was, that's why they are changing the "m" to "t"
  • Odd indeed.
  • I have to admit, the US Centric nature of so much functionality in WP7 is beginning to grate, seriously. How can Apple release functions that by and large work everywhere and frigging Microsoft, a company with its own Mapping Technology and Browser cant get simple services to work outside the US. For the love of Moses why cant I download podcasts to my device outside the US, what special piece of technology is missing that makes this only available to North America? And now a simple Dial function that IOS has had from day 1 like 5 years ago is a US only function, are you kidding me?
  • Not North America, just America. Canada is missing these features as well.
  • I can confirm this doesn't work with French settings either: I was surprised when I discovered it did not.
    Oh, and btw, one more bug (yes, it's clearly a bug to me) related to region settings: when set to English/US, when displayed (eg. in contact list), phone numbers have their numbers regrouped, like it's usually done in the region/country (eg.: 4408-555-1212). Not only it makes the phone number easier to read, but it's also easier to memorize. When set to French, numbers are not grouped as they should in this country, so the previous example number is displayed like this: 44085551212. Unreadable.
  • I couldn't read that last part, could you explain it a little further..?
  • He means that in the US, phone numbers are usually grouped like this: (425) 343-0117, and are displayed like that in your phone if you have it set to US settings, whereas in France, where numbers are grouped like this: 01 23 45 67 89 or or 01-23-45-67-89, yet in the phone, the numbers are never properly spaced out: 0123456789.
  • I live in the UK and I have no problems with tapping highlighted numbers. But obviously, that function is regional set because countries vary their number formats. I tried the numbers on the sample and it didn't work on the UK settings, I changed it as suggested and if worked. On the other hand though it effected the UK formatted numbers and I couldn't tap them to call, so I changed it back.
  • Thats the reason why i will leave WP. They think the USA are the center of the planet (which of course they are not) and so they reserve functions like this for U.S. people. Thats inacceptable and a step against the rest of the world. We here in germany unfortunately don't produce OS, but we have the most advanced technology standard, and now, for example, if Mercedes Benz or Porsche or Siemens would reserve some features for German Market, everybody else outside germany would protest loud.
  • It's not all perfect here in the US.  There are some number sequences that require me to add a TEL: prefix to the number.  For instance, if I were to send a meeting request, and I wanted to include the bridge line as part of the number (i.e. (123) 456-7890 11223344), I would have to put TEL:(123)456-7890,11223344#. Now, the # at the end isn't recognized and I have to manually add it to the Edit Number screen when prompted (although this did work in the Mango Beta.)
  • Give it some time, WP is still relatively young!  It's understandable that they would perfect certain features in the local market before rolling it out to other regions in the world, just like how zune and marketplace were rolled out later to different regions.  Now with Nokia on board and the rumor that Tango will bring support for 120 languages, I'm sure more and more features will become available worldwide.  Let's hope MS can keep up the good momentum forward!
  • easily fixed... i just changed my language settings from uk english to us english...
    thanks for this info.
    ps i don't care which eng version its running under. i live in switzerland but have most my devices set to english to enjoy the original language versions (mostly for x360 games and movies) and not have some generic blend of high german instead of the refined accents and dialects in the original english versions.
  • I think many customers get really pissed about the US-centric features. I got my phone now almost a year - Apart from a devs point of view, where the PubCenter still isn't available in switzerland (although they explicitly pointed out they would launch it "before the end of 2011"), I'm missing lots of useful features. Local Scout doesn't work, Bing Vision is a mediocre experience, calling numbers from IE won't work. This is just poor.
    If they need some months to get those features ready and rolled out, no problem with me. But now mango has come and gone, and there hasn't been much improvement to get us on par with other countries. Seriously, Microsoft should really get those things working. I don't think they are THAT complicated to implement. The longer this goes on, the more it looks like they just decide to ignore other markets because of their neglectable size and volume. And this is the wrong way to get WP into the hands of as many people as possible.
    Maybe Nokia will shake things a bit up. The brand of Nokia is extremely strong in Europe, stronger than many US-journalists could ever imagine. Many people still remember their first phones and those we're almost always Nokia. Let's hope Tango will bring some improvements, although I'm not too optimistic about it.
  • HEY! you're from switzerland too? see you in the future playing wp7 multiplayer games then ;)
    ps it's the same with xbox games. why does switzerland not have homebrew apps for xbox? even germany has them by now...
  • I am indeed, and if you're from Aarburg, I'm practically living next door to you ;)
  • I think some may forget that WP has in it what MS and the Manufacturers own i.e. patents. Are there people who own the patents to dial a number from IE, text, or eMail in other countries instead of MS? If I remember correctly, wasn't a WP manufacturer (HTC?) actually infringing on clickable numbers in an email or something like that? My point is, sometimes they can't put a feature because they don't own the legal rights. I think that's how it is with podcasts (for now). Can MS legally put this feature on other region devices or is something stopping them?
  • Been a lot of talk lately about WP being to US biased. I hope Tango addresses some of the issues. And speaking of Tango, if you are on att, and you are waiting for the DiskeyFix, you might as well bank on getting this in Tango...
  • As a Canadian, the most irritating thing for me is that our phone number formats are identical to the US. Typically they're (555)555-5555. The fact that we don't have the feature makes me think it's sheer laziness. They wouldn't even have to tweak their detection algorithms since we use the exact same format. On other platforms I get phone numbers, street addresses, etc turned into hyperlinks. On WP7 I can't even copy and paste the phone number.
  • Well, if it makes any of you feel any better sometimes it doesn't work in the U.S., either. In WM when it wouldn't detect a phone number, I could always use Voice Command to say "Dial 555-5555" while looking at the number on the screen. In WP this still works, but you have to position the number such that the Tellme screen doesn't block it out. If the phone number is at the top of the page, however,  this means tilting the phone left to landscape or tilting the phone right to landscape and then pressing the Tellme button. This is because IE will rotate with the tilt, but the Tellme screen won't rotate.
  • Nice tip!  But can someone here explain what is the difference between region format and system locale?  Does changing the system locale to English (United States) open up even more functionality?  I only found out recently that changing Browser and search language enables barcode scanning and local scout features.
  • I think system local helps with some apps "knowing" how to configure them selves or work. I'm not really sure but even though I live outside the US (In Venezuela) I have it configured as English (US) and I think that let's me access the US MarketPlace.
  • All this diferrent regions stuff just pisses me off. To get the full functionality out of my phone I have to configure it as I was living in the US. I live in Venezuela and I know it's no a supported country yet, but from what I'm seeing it happens even in supported countries.
    I have to configure it to:
    Display language: English (US)
    Region format: Spanish (Venezuela) (So I can atleast get date formats and stuff accordingly) 
    System locale: English (US)
    Browser & search language: (English (US)
    This way I can use Bing completely, podcasts and other things. But it's a pain in the ass for two things atleast. When I use "Tellme" I look like an idiot speaking english instead of spanish and everybody looks at me wierd (I know Siri has the same problem). And when I write a SMS if the language of the keyboard is set to spanish and I type a word that is autocorrected to use an acute accent the lenght of the SMS is shortened to 76 characters instead of the normal 160 (this doesn't happen on a friends WP that is all in Spanish).
    I really hope they start to work things out so WP can really start to reach a global market, now with Nokia they have their chance.
  • Isn't the highlighting of phone numbers and making them clickable a patent that Apple sued (and won) HTC over?
    If so, then quite your whining.. Only a matter of time until Apple sues Microsoft over this as well and nobody can use it.  Even if companies like Nokia made that feature available long before Apple...
  • I think I read somewhere that Apple and Microsoft have cross-licensing deals so they won't actually sue each other.
  • Wow, the patent world is insane. I read the first one. It's basically a feature that someone created and then patented. Is every single feature in a program or OS patented? It must be completely nuts trying to keep track of it all.
  • Patent or not, if Microsoft wants to be taken serious, they should pay up like everybody else. Talk about defragmented :[