25 Windows Phone 7 Tips for Optimum Smartphone Performance

Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) mobile OS Windows Phone 7 is chock full of hidden-- or at least, not particularly obvious-- features and settings. Check out the following 25 tips to get the most out of your Windows Phone 7 mobile device.

Minimize Facebook contact clutter

If you're big on Facebook, you probably appreciate the fact that adding a Facebook account to your phone automatically sets up all of your "friends" as contacts in the People Hub. On the other hand, this can make for an needlessly cluttered contact list that casual Facebook users might not care for. To keep your contact list more manageable, open the People Hub, tap and hold the People heading, then select Only add Facebook info to existing contacts.

Find contacts fast

If you have a lengthy contact list, you can save some time and scrolling when trying to locate a particular name. From the People hub, tap any letter heading to call up a alphabetical grid, then tap a button to jump directly to that letter (a grayed-out letter button means it doesn't contain any contacts).

Filter unread emails

Got an inbox filled with lots of already read emails? Swipe right to display only unread messages.

Search from within pages and documents

To search on a particular word in a Web page or Word document, tap the word to highlight it and then press the physical Search button to bring up the results. (Note: this tip may work in certain apps as well, but it doesn't work in OneNote or email messages.)

Speak your searches

Tap the microphone at the right edge of the Bing search box to speak your search term instead of typing it.

Use voice control

When you tap and hold the Start button, you'll jump straight into the voice-activated search mentioned above, this also lets you control your phone with voice commands. You can do things such as place calls, find contacts, open your e-mail or calendar, and even run apps, including third-party ones. (Remember to preface app commands with "open" or "run", otherwise they'll be interpreted as Web searches.)

Delete search history

To eliminate previous searches from your phone, go to Settings, Applications, Search, then press Delete History.

Change caller ID settings

By default, WP7 reveals your phone number to anyone you call, but you can opt for your number to be visible only to your contacts, or to no one. To make the change, go to Settings, swipe right to choose Applications, select Phone, then look for Show my caller ID to.

Check free storage

To see how much free space your phone has, go to Settings, then choose About. (The Zune software will also report your phone's storage status each time you sync it.)

Save Web sites to Start menu

You may already know that you can pin a frequently-accessed Web site to the Start menu by tapping the ellipse (…) menu and selecting pin to start, which automatically creates a tile with a thumbnail image of the page. The thumbnails are based on a page's current view however, and are often be too small to distinguish easily. To make the thumbnails more readable, make sure the page is focused on the site's name/ logo -- or better yet, pinch and zoom in on it-- before pinning it.

Pin (almost) anything to the Start menu

Pinning to the Start menu isn't just for apps and Web sites-you can pin lots of other stuff too, including OneNote files (alas, not Word or Excel files) contacts, map locations, songs, albums, or artists. Tap and hold any of these items to summon the option.

Open Web links in new tabs, save images

While browsing a web site, tap and hold a link for the option to open it in a new tab (a maximum of open 6 tabs are supported). You can also tap and hold an image to save it to the phone.

Display full versions of Web sites

By default, IE automatically displays the mobile (i.e. watered-down) version of any sites you visit. To have it display the regular version instead, tap the ellipse (…) menu, then Settings, then select Desktop version under Website preference.

Change Pictures Hub tile/background image

To change the image that appears as the tile and background for the Pictures Hub, open the Pictures Hub, then tap and hold the Pictures heading to reveal two options-- change background, and change it for me (the latter will automatically select a random image).

Sync without a cable

You don't necessarily need to physically connect your phone to your PC to sync and transfer content via the Zune desktop software--you can also do it via Wi-Fi. To set up wireless sync, first make sure your phone is configured to access your Wi-Fi network, then connect it to your PC with the USB sync cable. From the Zune software, choose Settings, Phone, Wireless Sync, then click Set up wireless sync to run the configuration wizard. When you're finished, your phone will automatically sync with the Zune software over Wi-Fi provided it's been plugged in to AC power for 10 minutes. (Two caveats, however: for wireless sync to work, the Windows account with the Zune software must be logged in, and the phone can't be playing any media at the time.)

Recover from an accidental main button press

Sometimes-- most typically when swiping the screen while playing games in landscape mode-it's easy to accidentally brush one of the three main buttons-- Back, Home, or Search-- and abruptly find yourself pulled away from the app. If this happens, hold the button for a couple of seconds before letting go; in the case of the back and search buttons this will cancel out the function and keep you in the app. In the case of the home button, it will overlay the aforementioned voice search/control function over the app-just tap Back to dismiss it.

Take advantage of the Back button

The Back button isn't merely a way to return to the prior page within an app. From the Start menu it will bring up the last app you had open, and pressing it multiple times will take you further back through your recent activity.

Use alternate keys

The virtual keyboard is chock full of secondary keys that come in handy when the primary ones don't include the characters you need. When addressing an email, or trying to reach a Web page, for example, tap and hold the .com button to reveal .org, .edu, and .net options. Similarly, you can tap and hold many of the letter buttons to call up accented/related versions of the character (the "c" even includes the copyright symbol as an option). Elsewhere in the keyboard, you'll find different kinds of brackets behind the parenthesis buttons, different currency symbols behind the dollar sign, and additional punctuation marks behind the period.

Use space as period

Speaking of the period, you can put one at the end of a sentence without touching the period key-just double tap the space bar instead. (If you find this feature bothersome, you can turn it off under Settings, Keyboard.)

Map traffic info

To get a sense of traffic conditions in the area, open Bing Maps, tap the ellipse menu, then tap Show traffic. Highways and most major local roads will turn green, yellow, or red to indicate how well or poorly traffic is flowing.

Locate, lock, or wipe a missing phone

If your phone gets misplaced, lost or stolen, go to windowsphone.live.com and click Find My Phone. From there you'll be able to map your phone's current location, ring it (even if it's in silent mode), lock the phone with an on-screen message and, if necessary, return the phone to factory condition to protect your data. Note that before you can use these features you must activate them on your phone-- go to Settings and look for the Find My Phone option.

Set up a conference call

To make a conference call, start by calling the first party. Once connected, tap the down arrow, tap Add call, then place the new call. When the second caller picks up, tap Merge calls ("Conference" will appear at the top of the screen). You can repeat these steps to add more people to the call. To have a private conversation with any of the conference participants, tap Private and then the person's name or number.

Instant camera

You don't need to unlock your phone to use the camera; just hold down the camera button long enough to feel the vibration, and the camera app will appear.

Manage your camera settings

Still shots are automatically taken at the camera's full resolution, but video defaults to relatively low VGA resolution (640x480) so be sure to change the settings in advance if you want to shoot video in 720p HD. Also, be aware that camera settings reset to the default when you close the app, so you'll need to readjust them as needed each time you fire up the camera.

Listen to (non-Internet) radio

If a local radio station you like isn't available over the Internet, you can listen to it using the phone's built-in (FM only) radio, which you'll find within the Music + Videos Hub. The catch-you need to have wired headphones plugged in to act as an antenna-- Bluetooth doesn't count. (You don't necessarily need to listen via the headphones though-to play through the speakers, tap and hold the station number then choose radio mode: speaker.


Microsoft, mobile, Windows Phone 7, tips, mobile os