Windows Phone Help & How-to

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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Lost your Windows Phone? Here’s how to find it

Losing your phone can be really annoying. Fortunately, Windows Phone has a free service called Find My Phone that can help you recover your phone. It even goes a step further by giving you options to lock or erase your phone from any computer.

Head past the break to watch our how-to video.

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Niche apps are always tough to write about. For some, they’re indispensable. To others, they don’t make sense. DayGlance is one of those apps, designed specifically for Lumia devices running Nokia’s Glance screen.

You may not have noticed, but Nokia’s Glance screen omits the date. Instead, it just shows the time and any notifications. While I understand the logic – keep it simple – for some, knowing the calendar day is important. Luckily DayGlance fills that gap by let users show the date in the notification bar.

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There might be a situation in which you might have to reinstall apps you’ve already purchased from the Windows Phone Store. Perhaps, you just upgraded to another Window Phone device or you have accidentally deleted an app. You do not have to pay for them again. We’ll show you three ways to reinstall apps or games you've bought without paying for them again.

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You've seen something awesome on your Windows Phone (perhaps a sunny day in England reported by a weather app) and you wish to share this screen with the world. Taking screenshots is super easy and fast (hold power and tap the Start key).

The only issue with taking screenshots on any Windows Phone, especially when wearing earphones and listening to music, is the camera shutter sound when an image has been saved. Luckily, there's an easy way to disable this audible alert.

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Light paintings are made with moving light sources in front of a camera to create an image. You need long exposure so the camera can capture the flow of moving lights. Nokia’s latest video shows how an expert light painter does it, using the Nokia Lumia 1020 with Nokia Camera. They also share tips on how you can do it, too. Head past the break to watch the video.

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What does the Heart button do in Xbox Music + Video?

Xbox Music is the phoenix that rose from the ashes of Zune. As you know, Zune wasn’t just digital media hardware from Microsoft. It was an entire ecosystem of music and videos that went with you from your smartphone, to your desktop and to the browser. The entire Zune brand and marketplace was more or less killed off in late 2012 so that Microsoft could instead focus on building Xbox Music and Xbox Video.

Microsoft learned a lot from doing Zune. They made a few mistakes here and there, but overall there weren’t too many complaints from users about the service itself. It definitely laid the foundation for Xbox Music. You’ll even still see relics from Zune in Xbox Music, like that little heart button.

What does that thing do, anyway?

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So you are new to Windows Phone, loaded a ton of apps and games on to your phone and now face a hard reset that will wipe out everything. Or even better, you bought a new Windows Phone. The good news is that all the apps and games you’ve purchased won’t have to be re-purchased, as those licenses are linked to your Microsoft Account. The better news is that you can backup your app listings to make re-installing things a lot easier.

While many of the seasoned Windows Phone users already know this, we have a few discussions going on in the Windows Phone Central Forums asking about re-installing apps and games after a hard reset. WPCentral reader WaseemAkram poses that very question in this forums discussion and several readers quickly stepped up to offer reassurances that he would not have to re-purchase all his apps and games.

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