10 Must Know Tricks for Windows 8 Mobile

Windows Phone 8 is good. It is clean and simple, and has most of what a smartphone user wants. Of course, there are few things that need to improve and we are sure Microsoft will only make it better with time. Continuing our series of posts on the software, we are going to put forth a list of tricks and tips that every user of such a device should know.

If you are someone who knows smartphones in and out then most of these steps will seem ordinary to you. They are, but they are important too. We want to make sure every WP8 user knows his way around the phone. This is an effort in that direction.

Project your screen to your PC or TV

Projecting your phone to your PC or TV screen is surprisingly simple. Select Settings > System > Project My Screen. Your phone will automatically start searching for any devices near you that can take advantage of wireless screen projection. However, if your TV or PC monitor does not support this, it’s still possible to project your screen via USB on a Windows PC. First, download the Project My Screen app from Microsoft’s official Windows Phone website, install it on your system, restart, open the app, plug your phone into your PC and navigate to Project My Screen as before. This is great for showing off your videos and photos on a much larger screen.

Glance Settings

Glance settings allow you to adjust your time and lock screen content when your phone is on standby. Select Settings > Glance Screen to see the full range of options, which are pleasingly extensive. Particularly useful options include glance screen timeout settings. Consider keeping it at “peek” or turned off completely if you’re worried about battery life. An interesting function called Night Mode allows you to set a timeframe – such as 10pm to 6am – during which your phone’s lock screen will change colour to a dark red, green or blue, in order to save your eyes from any intrusive glare that the standard white may cause. The blue is particularly effective.

Battery Saver

Battery Saver, found by heading to Settings > Battery Saver, will give you extensive control over your battery usage. The opening screen will give you a good indication of which apps are using the most power, which at a glance allows you to locate which apps you might want to shut down or uninstall. Swipe right and you’ll get more detailed information, such as exactly how long your battery will last and whether you would like to enable Windows Phone’s Battery Saver, which can conserve energy when your battery is low.

Data Sense

Data Sense (Settings > Data Sense) finds more efficient ways to use mobile data and displays your usage. With this powerful feature, it’s possible to set very specific data limits – for example, if you’re on a monthly plan with 1GB of data, you can set the date your data resets, assign the monthly data limit and Windows Mobile will only allow you to use the specified amount unless the settings are overridden. You can also restrict background data usage while roaming and instruct your phone to compress images and adverts in Internet Explorer automatically if you’re reaching the end of your data limit.

Type Quicker with Shortcuts

This tip is unlikely to free up hours of your time, but it will make your keyboard finger-pecking faster while composing an email, SMS, OneNote entry or suchlike. Rather than pressing the numeric or punctuation buttons to enter their respective modes, then choosing your desired digit or mark, then tapping the button you first pressed to get you back into the standard keyboard, just press and hold the numeric/punctuation button and slide your finger over to the number or mark you want to use. Release your finger and the keyboard will snap back into default keyboard mode. Ninja skill unlocked.

Respond to a Phone Call with an SMS

Just about to close that business deal? Kids pouring spaghetti hoops into the DVD player? Having your ear bent by great-auntie Jean? There are many occasions in life when taking a mobile phone call just isn’t convenient. So use a built-in feature to send your caller a text message rather than picking up. Just ‘slide up’ on any call that comes hit and press the ‘text reply’ button. Then choose a default message or create your own. To edit your responses, got to Settings > Applications > Phone and click the ‘edit replies’ button to create up to four bespoke answers.

Customize Your Web Browser Address Bar

Getting to your favourite websites quickly is essential on any device, let alone a smartphone. So try this nifty trick to create a shortcut button right from the Internet Explorer web browser bar. Go to Settings > Applications > Internet Explorer and select ‘favourites’ from the ‘Use address bar button for’ drop-down list. You can also choose ‘tabs’, which will bring up the tab view of your saved sites, or keep it as the default stop/refresh button.

Magnify Your Screen

If, like many of us, your birthday signifies not only another year of wiseness, but an increase in eye-squinting when reading, you might want to check out the Ease of Use settings on your Lumia. Go to Settings > System > Ease of Access and choose to; activate high contrast for better clarity, increase text size (in a number of areas) and/or turn on the Screen magnifier, which means you can double-tap to zoom into and pan around things.

Stay in Sync

If you have several Windows devices, you’ll really appreciate Windows Phone 8’s synchronisation settings. Go to Settings > Sync My Settings where you can effortlessly sync your themes, apps, web browser and passwords across all your devices. This is great for those who like to keep the look of their devices consistent as well as those who regularly move from one device to another, perhaps working from a phone, PC and tablet in a single day and therefore need seamless device switching.

Never Lose Your Phone

Find My Phone allows you to ring, lock, erase, locate or send apps to your phone remotely from WindowsPhone.com. You can set your device to always use push notifications to send commands and apps to your phone as well as commanding your phone to save its location moments before the battery runs out, so as to more easily locate it when lost. Go to Settings > Find My Phone to edit these options.