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Windows Phone: 10 tips and tricks

1. 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.

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2. 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.

Windows phone tip 3 – battery saving
Tip #3: saving battery
3. 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.


4. 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 Wide News.

5. WiFi Sense
In a nutshell, WiFi Sense takes the hassle out of connecting to public WiFi hotspots and allows you to securely share your WiFi details with friends on Outlook, Facebook and Skype. Head to Settings > WiFi > WiFi Sense and you can tell your phone to automatically accept terms for use when required. Additionally, under Edit Info, you can tell your Windows Phone to automatically provide a fake name, email address and phone number if you’re concerned about privacy while using a public network.

Windows phone tip 6 – word flow
Tip #6: Word Flow
6. Word Flow is built into Windows Phone 8.1, allowing for fast and accurate shape typing. Instead of typing each letter individually, you can glide your finger across the letters instead. No need to hit space after each word, just lift your finger and begin gliding again and Word Flow will enter the spaces for you. To quickly add a full stop and a space, tap space twice. What’s more, Word Flow is quite clever – for instance, it will automatically add accents to words that commonly use them, or capitalise proper nouns, such as “England” or “Tom Selleck”’. The more you use it, the smarter Word Flow will become.

7. Set up a mobile VPN
A Virtual Private Network allows for remote secure connections to private networks using a public internet connection. This is now an in-built feature for all Windows 8.1 phones and is especially useful if you work on the go and need access to your company’s network when you’re catching up on emails at the airport or a coffee shop. Go to Settings > VPN and tap the plus symbol at the bottom to set up the VPN. You may need to ask your IT department for your specific VPN settings, which they should be able to supply easily.

Windows phone tip 8 – quiet hours
Tip #8: Quiet Hours
8. Set Quiet Hours
In Settings > Quiet Hours you can outsource your calls and texts to Cortana, Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant, leaving you completely undisturbed for as long as you wish. Quiet hours can be turned on for specific hours (say 10pm to 6am) and/or when you have a calendar event marked busy. You can also set “breakthrough rules” for your “inner circle”. This means specific individuals will still be able to contact you, even during your quiet hours if you so wish.

9. Automatically backup photos and set default camera app
In Settings > Applications > Photos+Camera you can change your default camera app. This is particularly useful if you enjoy using the hugely popular Instagram a lot or if you’re keen on using more sophisticated camera applications that provide a greater range of options and features. From here you can also ensure that your phone automatically saves your images and videos to the cloud, or turn this feature off/limit it to WiFi only if you’re worried about data usage.

Windows phone tip 7 – notifications
Tip #10 – Notifications
10. Action Centre/customise quick access options
The new Action Centre introduced with Windows Phone 8.1 – accessed by swiping down from the top of your screen – is highly customisable. If you’re not happy with the default quick actions provided, head to Settings > Notifications+Actions and you can change the four shortcuts to whatever you desire. Additionally, you can edit the behaviour of banner alerts as well as app and phone notifications.