By Adam Z. Lein | December 26, 2011 4:35 PM
If some one gave you a new Windows Phone as a present this Holiday season, here’s a few basics you need to learn right away.
1. Set up your Windows Live ID.
First off, you probably noticed when first booting up the phone that it wanted a Windows Live ID. Of course it’s not at all necessary to use one, but you’re going to want to since it unlocks a lot of great features including the ability to buy and install new applications from the windows phone market both from the phone and via WindowsPhone.com. That’s probably the biggest reason to make yourself a Windows Live ID, but you’ll also enable things like SkyDrive syncing of OneNote notebooks and Office documents. You’ll also enable SkyDrive photo storage and auto-uploads, SkyDrive video sharing/viewing support, Xbox LIVE leaderboards, achievements, and your custom avatar.
2. Make sure you have the latest updates.
Some updates may have been released for your phone after it was all boxed up and sent to whatever outlet you may have gotten it from. Checking for updates requires that you plug the phone into a PC
running the latest Zune software or a Mac running the latest Windows Phone Connector. If an update is available, it will likely let you know shortly after plugging in your phone via the USB cable. If your phone was originally released with the first version of Windows Phone 7, getting the update to Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” right away will greatly improve your phone’s speed and feature set.
3. Log into your other accounts.
After you set up your Windows Live ID, you’ll have email, contacts, calendar & tasks that sync through Hotmail, but if you go into Settings > “Email + Accounts”, you’ll be able to add all sorts of other email and social networking accounts. This is where you can log into and set up sync for any number of other Exchange, Gmail, Hotmail, IMAP, and POP3 email accounts. You can also add your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts for all the great social networking features.
4. Start Personalizing.
Your new phone will probably start up with whatever color the manufacturer decided to apply. If you tap the arrow in the upper right, and then scroll to “Settings” and open that, one of the settings options at the top will be “Theme”. Tapping that will let you change the background color and accent color to a number of options that you might like better. Of course you can change these at any time to match your outfit, case color, or mood. Then there’s the wallpaper on the lock screen. In Settings > Lock + Wallpaper, you’ll see a button to change your wallpaper. Pressing that will actually load
photo albums from your phone, Windows Live SkyDrive, as well as Facebook (if you set up your Facebook account on the phone already.) Next you’ll probably want to change your ringtone or at least listen to the ones that the phone comes with. In the Settings area again, you’ll find “Ringtones+Sounds” right at the top. Tapping that will give you all the options for selecting different ringtones and sounds. If you want to make a custom ringtone with your own MP3 or downloaded audio file, there are a few things you need to know about how to do that and we’ve got a video to help you.
Customize your start screen and remove bundled apps from the Start Screen. By default you’ll probably see a bunch of apps and tiles on the start screen that either the phone manufacturer or the service carrier put there. Some of them may be useful though, so try them out first, but if you know you don’t want them, removing them is very easy. On the start menu tap and hold your finger down on one of the live tiles. It should make all the other tiles fade back a bit so the one selected is larger. You’ll also see an “unpin” icon. Tapping that will remove the tile from the home screen, but it won’t remove the program from your device. While you’re in this “editing” mode, you can tap different tiles to select them and then drag them into different positions in order to make the ones that are important to you easier to access. “Unpinning” an application or tile does not uninstall it from your phone however. If you’d like to remove some of the programs completely, you can tap the little arrow icon in the upper right to go to the programs listing. When you find the one you want to uninstall completely, just tap and hold on the name, then choose “uninstall” from the pop-up menu. The app will be gone instantly (though you can always reinstall it from the Marketplace if you want).
5. Set up “Find my Phone” in case you lose your new phone.
You’ll need your Windows Live ID associated with your Windows Phone in order for this to work. Log into www.windowsphone.com/en-US/find using your Live ID and follow the instructions for enabling the “Find my Phone” service. After it’s set up, you’ll be able to go back to that web page from any web browser and use it to show your phone’s location on a map or make it Ring so that you can find it (even if your phone is set on silent mode). You can also lock the phone and leave a message on the screen in case some one sees it and wants to return it. Finally, as a last resort, you can wipe the phone’s contents so that no one else will be able to access your data. Unfortunately, that would give whomever might find your phone a brand-new phone with no identifying information on it should they even want to try to return it.
After you’ve got those 5 first steps all done, be sure to read up on our Windows Phone 7.5 Review to learn about all the great features you can find in your new device.