Getting Started on Windows Phone

Summary: Getting started on a new device can be daunting. We've created a handy Getting Started on Windows Phone guide to help out newcomers to the Windows Phone experience.

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Getting started on a new device can be daunting. There are often a multitude of steps during the setup process and even more that need to be completed after the initial setup is done. It’s often difficult to know just what you should set up, what you can set up and how it can all improve your overall user experience.

We’ve thrown together a handy step-by-step setup guide for the last generation of Windows Phone: Mango handsets (A Windows Phone 8 version will be coming in future). Don’t balk at the number of steps, setup actually doesn’t take that long and it’s best to get everything ready to go all at once, rather than just adding functionality as you need it. It should only take ten or fifteen minutes of your time to get a Windows Phone device completely set up and synced with all your various online accounts.

Despite the uniform nature of the Windows Phone platform your setup experience may differ a bit from what we’ve included below but that’s to be expected. If the steps are out of order on your device don’t worry, just complete them as they come. If any steps are missing just keep them in mind and remember to go looking for it in the settings menu after you’re done with the initial business of getting the phone up and running.

Step 1: Insert SIM

Make sure your SIM is inserted. If you can’t find where it goes then check your user manual for instructions.

Step 2: In Case of Emergency

If by some unlucky circumstance you find yourself in a dire situation and require emergency aid then there is an “Emergency Call” button available at almost every step of the process. Tapping this will allow you to call the designated emergency phone number for your area.

Step 3: Choose a Language

Windows Phone is available in multiple languages. The language for your area should be pre-highlighted but make sure you double check that it’s correct. Make sure that if there are multiple versions of your language (i.e. ‘English: US’ or ‘English: UK’) then you pick the correct option.

Step 4: Windows Phone Terms of Use

Here you can read the Terms of Use and the Privacy Statement if you wish by tapping on them. Alternatively you can just tap “Accept” and continue on. Either way you’ll have to agree to both in order to continue with the setup.

Step 5: Windows Phone Settings

Here you will need to choose between the Recommended and Custom settings. If you go the custom route you should have three options for on/off:

  • Allow Mobile Data Use on your phone
  • Send Information to help improve Windows Phones
  • Send Keyboard touch information to improve typing and more

We suggest allowing all three, but it’s really up to you. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of sending your usage information to Microsoft then don’t do it. After making your selection, be it Customized or Recommended, tap “Next”.

Step 6: Choose Time Zone

Scroll up and down the list to find your time zone. If you’re lucky your city will be named. If not just find the closest city with which you share a time zone. It’s not as simple as just matching your current time zone (i.e. GMT+11) with any city that shares it, as many cities these days employ daylight savings. Windows Phone, like all top mobile OSes, automatically adjusts for Daylight Savings time in applicable areas. As such you may find that you’re suddenly in a different time zone, if the GMT+11 city you decided to sync with suddenly becomes a GMT+10 city.

Step 7: Sign In With a Windows Live ID

Here you will be given 3 options:

  • Sign in
  • Create
  • Not Now

We highly suggest either signing in to or creating a Windows Live ID at this point. It only takes a few more seconds and it’s definitely worth it in the long run. Your Windows Live ID allows you access to the Windows Phone Marketplace, which is where you buy all your apps. It also has other uses as well, so it’s definitely best to sign up as early on as possible if you already haven’t.

Step 8: Manufacturer Specific Steps

It’s usually at this point that manufacturers throw in their own steps. For example, Nokia has its own log in system. We also suggest going along with these steps, but they’re generally not as necessary as the Windows Phone ones. Still, there are often perks involved behind the scenes that are not overtly noticeable.

Step 9: Transfer Contacts/Bring Your Friends

We’ve never found this step particularly necessary. The People section of the Windows Phone user interface (UI) is where we handle this business and we’ll take you through that next.

Initial Setup Complete

Well you’ve done your initial setup and your Windows Phone should be showing your Home Screen complete with Live Tiles. They won’t look particularly lively just yet, as you haven’t added any content to your phone.

This is the phase of the setup where everything is both optional and manual. You can do it all now, later or piece by piece as you find it useful. You can also complete whatever of the next steps you wish in whichever order you choose. However, we suggest getting it all done now. The sooner you set everything up the earlier you’ll start seeing all the benefits and the better your first impression of your new Windows Phone will be.

Step 11: Setting Up WiFi

We suggest that before you start doing anything that requires an internet connection that you set up any WiFi accounts in your area. Utilizing active WiFi networks in at your work, at home or even at public places that you frequent takes the stress off of your data plan and can potentially save you overcharge fees.

Scroll down the Home Screen until you find the Settings tile. This tile is represented by a cog and will take you to the overarching settings menu for your device. Tap on it and then located the WiFi option on the vertically scrolling list that you should now be presented with.

Make sure that your WiFi status is turned to “On”. This is indicated by the little bar at the top of the WiFi menu screen. You will not be able to connect to a WiFi network if it is disabled.

Find the WiFi network that you wish to connect to and tap on its name. If there are security measures, such as a password, you will now be prompted to enter them.

If your WiFi network does not show then you will have to search for it. Tap on “Advanced” button and then tap the + icon at the bottom of the new screen. You will have to enter the name of your network and its security measures manually.

After completing either of these processes your phone should now automatically join said network whenever you are within range. You can have multiple networks authorized and ready to go automatically.

Step 11: People, adding contacts and syncing social media accounts

The People section on Windows Phone is more than just your contacts list. It’s also a real-time thread of your combined social media (SM) services. To get started just tap on the “People” icon, it should be in the top right of your Home Screen by default.

You should be greeted with an automatic prompt to import contacts from your SIM. If it’s a new SIM then obviously you don’t need to bother, otherwise it’s usually a good idea to import your contacts asap. Doing this should take you to the People settings menu. The options here are Import SIM Contacts, Filter My Contact List and a various other options located below. Scroll down through the list to get an idea of the various settings that you can tweak.

You can sync up your social media accounts in this settings menu, or you can go back to People and it should automatically prompt you to do so, but usually only for one service. After adding your first SM account you will likely have to go back and add the rest manually. You can reach the People settings menu again at any time by pressing the on-screen menu button that utilizes an ellipsis or “…” symbol. Tap on this key and then hit “Settings”.

After adding all of your accounts you may notice that you have far more contacts than you either want or need. You can once again adjust this in the People settings menu by using the “Filter My Contacts” option. This option will allow you to disable contacts from specific sources. For instance, you may wish to keep your SIM and Facebook contacts in your available phone contacts list, but disable your Google, Windows Live and Twitter accounts from displaying similar information.

Step 12: Setting up Email

The Email live tile on the Home Screen displays a little envelope and should be labelled as “Email Setup” when no accounts are synced with it. Open it and you should be presented with a list of different services, i.e. Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Hotmail etc. Tap on whatever account you wish to setup and follow the prompts.

You can have multiple accounts synced at once. Emails from all of your accounts should appear in a single email stream.

Downloading Apps

Your device is almost set up, but it’s still a little barren. Think about any apps that you might need, or any that you enjoyed on your previous mobile device and search for them. The Windows Phone app store is called Marketplace, have a browse and see if there is anything you like.

Most Windows Phone apps have the option to try before you buy. These apps can be identified by the two options given when viewing them should be “Try” and “Buy”. If the app does not allow you to test it out, or if you have already previously trialled, the options should be “Buy” and “Share”.

Games will end up in your Xbox Live section. Jump in there and have a play around. Create and account and make an avatar if you wish, or simply access your games. It’s up to you.

Step 13: Calendar

Your calendar should not require any manual adjustments. Any of your synced social media services that also boast calendars, such as Google or Facebook, should automatically integrate themselves in to your Windows Phone calendar, along with all your current and future appointments that you have/will make using said calendars.

You can also adjust the color of events that are taken from each integrated calendar. For example you can have your Windows Live events set to green, your Facebook set to blue and your Google calendar set to Red. These options are accessed within the Calendar app itself through the “…” settings button.

Step 14: Music and Zune Pass

Music is downloadable in a few ways, but all travel through Microsoft Services. You will need the Microsoft Zune software on your PC or desktop if you already have music on your computer and wish to transfer it. In this way Zune is much like iTunes, except the focus is on manual transfer rather than automated syncing.

Just select what songs you want and drag them in to the little phone symbol at the bottom of the Zune player. If the phone symbol is not filled-in then it means that your phone is not connected to your desktop properly.

Zune Pass is a fantastic service offered by Microsoft. For a fee of around $12 (prices may be subject to change by the time you are reading this, or depending what area you’re in) per month, or $120 per year, customers have complete access to Microsoft’s huge music database. Subscribers can download songs to their computer and transfer them to their Windows Phone.

These songs will only work as long as you have an active Microsoft Zune subscription. However, included in your $12 per month is 1 free and permanently downloadable album. This album is yours to keep even after you have cancelled your subscription. So to rehash it’s $10-$12 per month for 1 album (1 per month, if you should forget to grab one in a said month then tough luck, you miss out that month) and unlimited access to all the songs on Zune Pass.

The reason this service is so good for Windows Phone users is that usually Zune Pass songs will not work on mobile devices. Currently Windows Phone handsets are the only smartphones on which this service is available, meaning that you can take the music with you rather than just leaving it on your desktop.

Zune Pass operates through the Zune Player. Once you are subscribed be sure that your Zune Player is signed in to your account. Then click “Marketplace” and search for your artists. Make sure that any music you wish to grab has a “Download” button and not a “Buy” button. If whatever you have to click suggests a monetary transaction then there may be a problem with your subscription or you may not be signed in.

Step 15: Videos

Videos are also transferred via the Zune Player in a similar way to movies. There is no Zune Pass equivalent for videos supplied by Microsoft, so you’ll have to resort to other means for your video content.

Step 16: Theme

Now that your handset is all set up and good to go it’s time to decide on a color theme. You may be happy with the one you have, but just in case hit the Settings tile on the Home Screen again and find the “Theme” option.

You can switch between a white and black background, which are called “dark” and “light”, as well as mess around with the color scheme of the tiles and notifications. It makes a surprising amount of difference when you mess around with the theme, so if you ever find that your UI experience is becoming dull we suggest mixing things up a little.

You can also customize your visual experience a bit more in the “Lock + Wallpaper” section of Settings. It’s usually possible to set up your phone so that the lock screen displays a picture of whatever artist is currently playing on your music app. You can also adjust the standard lock screen wallpaper by using defaults, or a custom picture that you have imported via the Zune Player software on your desktop.

That’s Just About It

There you have it. Your new Windows Phone device should now have just about everything on it that you’d want to put there. We hope this guide was helpful to you and we wish you luck and good times with your now fully-functioning shiny new smartphone.


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