Windows Phone Help & How-to

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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Here is how to block ads in IE 11 for Windows 8.1

No one likes ads, even if they are what powers our web economy. The debate over ad blockers is always a tough one, even more so since it even affects our site too. Without the revenue, we do not get money, which means we cannot pay our writers, which means we do not have employees. Still, there are selective uses of ad blocking that is useful, and we will show you how to do that in IE11 for Windows 8.1.

Internet Explorer 11 cannot do traditional plugins like Chrome or Firefox, which is a big gripe for many who would like to use it as their main browser. As a tradeoff, though, IE11 has fewer security issues, and it is gentler on your battery, which is important for tablets, laptops, and the Surface. However, there is a way to block ads within IE11 even without plugins, and it does not involve any hacks or modifications. Yes, Microsoft has given you the tools directly.

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The HTC One M8 for Windows brings many 'firsts' to the table, including support for the 801 chipset, duo camera and more. One of those originals is the ability to hide the Nav bar aka where the Start, Search and Back key reside. On previous Windows Phones these keys were part of the device, so that when the display is off they were still visible. Now with Windows Phone 8.1, manufacturers get the ability to use on-screen keys instead, cutting down costs and letting companies like HTC port over their Android phones with no change in the hardware.

Although phones like the Nokia Lumia 630 have on-screen keys, the HTC One for Windows adds a few options to the mix, including an auto-hide option. Here's how it all works.

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Cases are always an optional accessory on phones, but the Dot View case for the HTC One M8 for Windows is much more than just protection. The case is interactive, showing owners useful information like the time, current temperature and the current conditions. The case is 'dot view' because of the mesh screen gives users a dot-matrix picture of that info.

On the new Windows Phone version, Microsoft and HTC added something unique to the equation: Cortana integration. Although all Windows Phone 8.1 devices in the US get Cortana, the HTC One (M8) for Windows goes a step further by adding a feature to the Dot View case. Users simply swipe down on the case when the phone is in standby, and Cortana comes to life.

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When the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK leaked back in February, double-tap to wake was seen in the documentation, suggesting that Nokia's tech was being opened to all OEMs. Fast-forward to August and HTC's new One for Windows is the first non-Lumia Windows Phone to feature this useful technology.

Double-tap to wake came to Nokia Lumias in mid-2013. The optional tool lets users tap their display twice when it is off, letting people turn on their phones without using the power-button. Double-tap has always been a useful feature, especially if you only have one-hand available and you would like to use your phone.

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How to upload videos to Youtube with Cortana

Upload to Youtube, a Windows Phone 8.1 app that lets you upload videos from your camera roll to Youtube, has recently been updated with a cool new feature. This handy app now lets you upload your last video with the help of Cortana. Want to see it in action? Continue reading and watch our quick how-to video.

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Earlier this morning, the Nokia Developer Team tweeted out some information regarding developer devices getting Lumia Cyan. The Lumia 920 is now getting Lumia Cyan, with the Lumia 620 getting it next week and the Lumia 820 in early September. Good news, right?

Unfortunately, a few fan blogs took this news to mean that phones enrolled with the Preview for Developers program are now getting the Lumia Cyan update, which is far from accurate.

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How to stream videos from your Mac to Xbox One

Have a lot of movies or TV episodes stored in your computer and want to watch them on your big screen TV? Here are the steps on how to easily stream those videos from your Mac to the Xbox One using this handy app from the Mac App Store called SofaPlay ($4.99 - Download now). It's so easy and convenient, that I want to slap myself for not knowing about it earlier.

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Offline maps are one of the nicest features in Windows Phone. You can download maps for your region, so you don't eat into your data plan each time you want to use map data. Offline map data is saved by default to your phone storage. You might want to move the offline map data to your SD card if you have one, here's how.

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