Windows Phone Help & How-to

Since I’ve already shared with you my favorite wallpaper for Windows Phone 8.1 and some of my apps on my Start screen, I figured I’d finish the week up with something on my Lock screen. Granted, I’ve been known to change this often, depending on which app adds support for that feature. But today I’m back to an oldy but goody: The blurred Start screen.

As you can see in the above photo, it looks like my Lock screen is an opaque but see-through window to my Start screen. Unfortunately, transparent Lock screens are not back, but you can simulate the effect with a few easy steps.

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For those looking for a portable tablet gaming experience, Windows tablets can sure hit the mark like no other platform. Whether you are looking at the fully equipped Razer Edge with an Nvidia GeForce GPU and dual joysticks, or you are looking at a Surface 2 – experiences are ready to be had.

The power of a full Windows 8 tablet allows gamers to experience their favorite titles like Counter Strike: GO, Team Fortress 2, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Titanfall anywhere they go.  If you are using a Windows RT based tablet, the fun does not end just because you are limited to the Windows Store - not if you have an Xbox 360 controller.

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Yesterday we posted about folks being unable to set an alarm using Cortana. They’d try and meet error code 8000ffff. It undoubtedly made a lot of you frustrated as you played around with Cortana. Soft resets and hard resets didn’t fix the problem. What was going on? It’s most likely third-party alarm apps messing with Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1. Details below.

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For those of us who love our apps, or have limited storage on our phones, freeing up space can be a concern. Prior to the Windows Phone 8.1 update, we were limited to installing apps directly on the phone, so when things got tight, one might take to uninstalling rarely-used apps to free up precious space. And anyone who has had to uninstall a bunch of apps at once can tell you how much of a hassle it can be to go through the list one by one to clear them out.

However, in this new post-8.1 era, we now have the ability to conserve device storage by installing apps directly to a micro SD card, should our device have one. With Storage Sense, it becomes easy to move apps that are already installed on your phone over to micro SD in a group, rather than individually. Similarly, if you want to uninstall several apps at once, you can use Storage Sense to do that as well.

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While the vast majority of changes to Windows Phone 8.1 have been a welcome gust of fresh air to our phones, there are some things that take getting used to. The fact that Cortana doesn’t have Bing Vision may be chalked up to it being in ‘beta’, although we hope Microsoft at some point brings the feature back to search. The Bing service is used by many people on this site for scanning our app QR codes at the end of articles, so not having it readily available is a turnoff.

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The more we use Windows Phone 8.1 the more features we discover. Such as re-installing apps and games you’ve purchased in the past.

In the past there were basically two ways to re-install an app or game you had deleted from your Windows Phone. First, you could hunt down the app in the Store and re-install it. Second, you could pull up the Windows Phone Store’s website and go into your account to view your purchase history to find the app or game to re-install.

While those two options still exist, Windows Phone 8.1 now offers you a third option.

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Let us be honest, what people really want when they ask for Windows 7 back is that it be done with the modern Windows 8 Start Screen and make their machine more mouse and keyboard friendly.

Windows 8 has placed a large amount of its reliance on touch based PCs that is the Microsoft future. If you do find yourself without a touch screen and are yearning for the days of Windows 7, then read on as we bring you as close to the experience as we can.

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Microsoft recently released the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers and introduced a collection of new features, including an updated version of the mobile Internet Explorer 11. The new software update brought forward a collection of new exciting features along with an ability we have had for quite a bit in Windows 8.1’s IE11 browser – Reading Mode.

The Reading Mode embedded within IE11 on Windows 8.1 has spent quite a bit of time being overlooked, but in fact, can provide a simple and distraction free reading experience for your favorite news and blog sites (including Windows Phone Central!)

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Internet can almost be called the lifeblood of our society; if the internet goes down or our phones lose signal, it is like a part of us dies. Whether you view the aforementioned statement as a glum view of today’s society or an undoubtable truth – we are going to make sure you get internet onto your tablet or PC as long as you have a Windows Phone by your side.

We are going to dive into two different methods to get LOLcats and the rest of the internet to your PC. The first involves using your phone’s built in tethering ability and carrier support to get the job done; the second involves a bit of a proxy configuration, but we will be sure to walk you through both.

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The more we use Windows Phone 8.1, the more we discover such as the changes to our call history. For starters, we now have a Speed Dial page that sits alongside the History and Voice Mail pages. You also have the ability to pull up call details that reveal the date, time and duration of the calls.

Finally, the History page now groups calls from the same caller, based on the date, to avoid repetition. For example if Rich had called my Windows Phone four times today, the history would display “Rich Edmonds (4)” instead of four entries for those calls.

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Ever since the arrival of the Preview for Windows Phone 8.1, we’ve been documenting frequent questions posed by you, the eager user. One of those topics deals with ‘Background tasks’ having been seemingly removed from the OS by Microsoft. But here’s a secret: it hasn’t.

The ability to control how programs behave in Windows Phone 8.0 was found under Settings > (swipe right) > Applications > background tasks. In that section, you could easily see which programs installed on your phone were doing things in the background e.g. checking for updates, or pushing Live Tile refreshes. It’s a useful tool used by many to help save on battery power. After all, if you have installed a few weather apps due to changing preferences, you don’t want all of them running at once!

In Windows Phone 8.1, many users are under the impression that this feature has been removed, but it has not. It has, however, changed, both in function and where it can be found.

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Start backgrounds are probably one of the more interesting changes we’ve seen in Windows Phone 8.1. It’s another step Microsoft has made to allow users to customize and make their Windows Phone experience unique and personal. We happen to be very big fans of the Start backgrounds and have seen the community respond to them positively as well. A lot of you were timid and curbed your enthusiasm when Start backgrounds leaked a month ago, but the response after actually using it has been the opposite.

Today we’re going to highlight some tips, apps, resources and images to make Windows Phone truly beautiful with a unique Start background.  

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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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