25 Windows Phone 7 tips and tricks

22nd Oct 2010 | 09:32

25 Windows Phone 7 tips and tricks

Get the most from your new Windows Phone 7 handset

25 Windows Phone 7 tips and tricks

If you've just bought yourself a snazzy new Windows Phone 7 handset, no doubt you're keen to get to grips with it and explore all the new features.

To help you get the best from your new handset, we've compiled 25 handy Windows Phone 7 tips and tricks.

1. Don't miss Windows Phone 7 settings

There are dozens of settings you can change in Windows Phone 7; everything from whether camera photos automatically back up to SkyDrive to whether you see all your Facebook contacts in your address book, to delivery confirmations and whether only people in your contacts book see your caller ID.

More than you might expect, including phone settings, are in the applications tab of Settings; you start in the system tab, so swipe right and start tweaking.

2. Pinch to flick

Windows Phone 7 is all about tapping and swiping, but when you've zoomed in to a photo swiping only pans around. To get to the next image in an album or the camera roll or a Facebook photo feed (or any other set of images), pinch to zoom back out as far as you can and then you can swipe left and right for more pictures.

3. Pick a colour for some tiles

If you find all that bright orange on an Orange Windows Phone 7 just too, well, orange, choose Settings > Lock & wallpaper > Theme and you can change the tile colour for built-in apps and some third party apps (if they have a transparent background) – but Orange's own apps stay orange.

Windows phone 7 accent

PICK A COLOUR:You can change the tile colours for built-in apps

4. See more of a web page

When you turn the Windows Phone 7 sideways, the landscape view of the browser hides the address bar and menu toolbar to give you more space to see more of the page.

5. Understand Windows Phone 7 keyboards

Counting the phone dialler keypad, there are seven different keyboards you'll see in different tools and apps; you can't pick what you see where but it's worth knowing what's different.

The plain QWERTY keyboard only shows up if there's nothing better suited (so the password field on a Web page for example). If you're typing a message or document you get the default QWERTY keyboard that has a button to bring up a set of emoticons (so you don't have to hunt and peck for punctuation keys); if you're typing an address into an SMS, you get a similar keyboard but the number button gives you the numeric keypad to type phone numbers faster.

If you're typing in an app that expects a URL or an email address you get a .com key and @ for email (though you won't get that in forms on Web pages because the phone doesn't know what type of field they are); like the keyboard in the Bing app, the Enter key for those sends your information off rather than giving you a new line.

6. Get more symbols and smilies

The arrow key on the left of the lowest row of symbols and emoticons brings up a second page, so if you need the euro symbol or a smiley that looks like a cat, tap this More button. Or you can press and hold on the £ sign to get a popup with dollar, cent, euro, yen and the rare unknown currency sign (¤).

Other keys have extra symbols when you press and hold; the bracket key conceals angled and curly parentheses, the dash can give you underscore and tilde ( ), vowels include accents – this is a great way of getting awkward characters quickly.

Windows phone 7 symbols

GOT A YEN:Press the More arrow key to get more symbols

7. Move the cursor

Capacitive screens can't detect where in a word you're trying to tap for a correction because the touch sensor (and your fingertip) is just too big; press and hold on a word you've typed to get a cursor you can drag into position – but don't look where you're pressing, because the cursor appears further up on the screen, so it won't be hidden under your finger.

The text you want to edit is hidden under your finger though, so keep holding it on the screen and drag down; the cursor follows at a distance so by the time it reaches the text, your finger is out of the way.

8. Send an MMS in Windows Phone 7

There's no separate inbox or app for this in Windows Phone 7; just write your text message and tap the 'attach' button to pick a photo or start the camera for a new snap.

Windows phone 7 mms

FAST MMS:Just attach a photo

9. Don't pay for a speed dial app

You can pin the people you talk to the most to your Windows Phone 7 Start screen and tap to see what they're up to – then call, email or Facebook them straight from there. And the ones you contact the most – by phone, email or Facebook – will be in the recent section of the People hub anyway.

10. What's my phone number?

If it's a new phone, you don't have to check the paperwork. The first thing under Settings > applications > phone is your number.

11. Fix international numbers

Windows Phone 7 is pretty good at stripping out brackets and dealing with country codes, but if you go abroad or have a lot of international numbers to call you can tell it to expect numbers that start with 1 to be in the US; choose Settings > applications > phone and turn on 'international assist'.

12. Turn off data roaming in Windows Phone 7

Unless you've got a great roaming plan or an expense account, you probably don't want to pay data costs when you travel abroad; under Settings > mobile network you can turn off data roaming in Windows Phone 7.

13. Juggle two calls

You can use your phone for other things while you're on a call – when you navigate away from the call screen, there's a notification bar at the top that scrolls through the call details that you can tap to get back to it.

Press the button in the call that has the arrow icon on and you can mute a call or put it on hold while you phone someone else. If another call comes in while you're talking, the screen that comes up lets you ignore, hang up the current call to answer or put the first call on hold while you answer.

Windows phone 7 multi calls

TALK MORE:Switch calls – or join them for a party call

Windows Phone 7 contacts, media and more

14. Link people

Over the years we all get more and more email addresses. At work a friend might use their maiden name, and their Gmail address could be a nickname.

The Windows Phone 7 address book automatically links people with similar enough details and suggests more tenuous links (so far, all correctly); you can tap on the link icon to add other contacts to approve suggestions, break links and link contacts it can't guess are the same person.

Windows phone 7 link contacts

WHO'S WHO:Cut down your address book to show people, not multiple emails

15. Speed through Windows Phone 7 contacts

Tap the letter at the beginning of each alphabetical section to get an alphabet to pick from – or hit the Search button to filter names; it's obvious but it saves you scrolling for ever.

Windows phone 7 alphabet

FAST FIND:Tap a letter to jump through the alphabet

16. Play and pause

Windows Phone 7 has some really good media controls, really well hidden; press the volume keys wherever you are to pause or restart your music, fast forward and rewind (press and hold the controls) or jump to the next or previous track (just tap).

Windows phone 7 zune controls

LIKE A ZUNE:Press the volume keys and you can pause and fast forward music too

17. Play your entire music collection

Instead of selecting music and picking an album or artist, press the Play arrow that hovers next to the menu in the Music & Videos hub and it will play your entire music collection. This uses the excellent interface from the Zune HD; you see the thumbnail of the current album plus the next three tracks on the playlist; tap the lookahead list to get the full scrolling playlist or swipe left and right to skip ahead or back.

18. Rate tracks in Windows Phone 7

Tap the album thumbnail to get the rating control; tap once to fill in the heart ('love it'), tap again to break the heart ('hate it') – and tell the Zune software not to sync tracks with a broken heart rating to get rid of the one awful track on your favourite album. The repeat and shuffle controls are hidden here too.

Windows phone 7 playlist controls

SKIP AND RATE:Tap the album cover to rate the track, tap the track list below to scroll through the playlist

19. Look up an artist

Zune marketplace brings you the artist photos that show in the background of the Music & Videos hub when you play their music; tap on the name of an artist and it also gives you their biography, lists of the albums and songs you have – and lists of the albums and songs by them that you can buy or stream from marketplace.

20. Search without copy and paste

The smart links to addresses don't work for the UK, but you can highlight text in the Windows Phone 7 browser and hit the search button to look it up in Bing; but the only way we can find to highlight more than one word at a time is to search for the phrase in the page – at least you're typing in something you can see rather than doing it from memory.

Windows phone 7 web select

QUICK SEARCH:Once you've found text on a web page, press the search button again to Bing for it

21. Zoom in for satellite directions in Windows Phone 7

You can switch to the 'aerial view' in any Bing map at any zoom level; but if you zoom all the way in, the map switches to satellite view automatically – at this point you can see individual buildings clearly.

Windows phone 7 bing aerial

FIND IT:Zoom all the way in and Bing shows aerial images automatically

22. Navigate in documents

When you open Word and Excel documents, Mobile Office builds an outline of the different sections, charts and so on; tap the button that looks like it will insert a bulleted list to see the list.

Windows phone 7 word outline

SPEED READ:Tap the Outline button for an instant table of contents

23. Find your Windows Phone 7 phone faster

If you use the Find My Phone tool on windowsphone.live.com it sends special text messages that make your phone ring or lock it; text messages can take a while to arrive (and you might be paying for them) so if you want the phone to ring straight away, not an hour later, change the Find My Phone settings to 'Get results faster'.

This uses push notifications rather than waiting for the SMS network; this uses more battery life but you've probably got it on for email notifications anyway.

24. Sideload Windows Phone 7 apps- if you're a developer

If you've got an AppHub developer account and an unlocked developer phone (you can unlock your phone with the Windows Phone Developer Registration tool but only if you pay for an AppHub developer account) and the unlocked XAP of the app, you can sideload apps - so in most cases the answer is no.

If you have all that, you still run the Zune software to connect your phone but you also need the XAP Application Development Tool (which comes with the Windows Phone Developer Tools). Run this and choose Windows Phone Device as the target, browse for the XAP file and click Deploy; make sure the phone lock screen isn't showing first.

25. Reset Windows Phone 7

It's a last resort if you're having a problem, or you just want to get all the content and accounts off the handset in a hurry, but resetting Windows Phone 7 is really easy; no complicated death grip of pressing buttons, just choose Settings > about > reset phone.

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Liked this? Then check out 10 Windows Phone 7 problems solved

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