How I set up my new Windows Phone—and what I learned that can help you

I checked the AT&T website for two weeks waiting for my new Windows Phone. When delivery day finally arrived, I stalked the UPS site all morning. At last, those three magic words—Location: Front door. I beelined home to rescue my red Lumia 920 from the cold—or someone wanting to make it their own Christmas present. (OK, maybe I was already being a little overprotective.) image

Once home with my new Lumia and trusty old Titan 2 laying in front of me, I was excited—but also a little nervous. It’s the moment some smartphone owners I know dread like a house move: The Big Upgrade. Would it be hard to get my work email set up? Would my old apps install OK? How should I organize my Start screen?

I pushed these thoughts aside and dove in head first. Everybody has their own way of tackling a project like this. Here’s what I did, and few tips I learned along the way.

First, I setup email.

I’m an admitted workaholic. And since Windows Phone ismy job, any work email downtime makes me nervous. Plus, all my contacts—friends, family, and some co-workers—are in Outlook. So setting up this account on my phone was No. 1 on my to-do list.

Turns out my early jitters were unfounded: I just entered my account credentials and Windows Phone did the rest, finding my account info and automatically importing all my email, contacts, and calendar entries. After Outlook was all set, I did the same for my other six email accounts (I used to be on the Hotmail team, so have a slew of accounts for various reasons.)

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Finally, I turned off conversation view because I like my inbox old-school, then gave each account a unique friendly name to make it easier to tell them apart at a glance when pinned to the Start screen. Just go to Settings>Email+Accounts, then tap on the account you want to rename.

Second, I reinstalled my apps.

I’m a “fresh install” kind of gal, and see a new phone or PC as an opportunity to clean house, installing only what I really want on my new device. Because part of my job is choosing recommendations for the Insider newsletter and Insider app, I go through lots of apps and games. I planned to be picky about which ones I’d put back on my Lumia.

One resource many people forget about is My Phone, which lists every app and game you’ve ever installed and makes it easier to reinstall apps on a new phone (as long as you continue using the same Microsoft account). I just clicked Purchase History, zipped down the list, and clicked Reinstall for the items I wanted on my new phone. Everything showed up without a hitch.

If you’re curious, my most-used apps are: Facebook, Weather Channel, AllRecipes, Rowi, Groupon, Amazon Mobile, Insider, Flashlight XT, and Stopwatch. The games on my phone—mostly there for my daughter—are: 3D Marble Tracks, AE 3D Motor, Akiak, Dalton – THE AWESOME, Swipy Man, Wipeout, Plants vs. Zombies and Max & the Magic Marker.

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Third, I arranged my Start screen.

The new Windows Phone 8 Start screen and its three sizes of Live Tiles opens up so many possibilities. I spent some time looking over mytil.esand was inspired by all the Start screens posted there—but ultimately did my own thing, as you can see from the screenshot below.

I first unpinned preloaded apps I don’t use (unpinning doesn’t uninstall them, so I can always access them later time from the App list). I put my email accounts and other most-used items above the fold. The bottom of Start remains a work in progress that I continue to tweak. That red-eyed skeleton—in case you were wondering—is my husband’s tile, an animated MSN Messenger profile picture I created years ago that he still uses.

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Fourth, I dove into Settings.

Some people find Settings scary—all those mysterious checkboxes and buttons. But this is where some of the important and powerful personalization options are hidden, so it’s worth exploring (and isn’t that bad, anyway). Here’s what I did on my phone:

  • Picked a ringtone: Mine is currently “Gangnam Style” from the Free Ringtonesapp because it makes me smile and dance when it rings.
  • Changed my theme: Tap Settings > Theme, and then tap Accent color or Background. Mine’s red, to match my phone.
  • Set up Kid’s Corner: One of my family’s favorite new phone features. Now my daughter has her own space on my phone with her favorite games, camera, and a name she picked herself—”Nikky Rules”.
  • Tweaked Backup options: Windows Phone 8 has a bunch of handy new options for saving things to the cloud. I prefer more control over when and where I share pictures, however, so I turned off auto photo upload to SkyDrive.
  • Turned on Speech: I like to listen to and answer texts while driving (I told you I was a workaholic), so I flip the “Read aloud incoming text messages” option to “always on,” so there’s no need for me to touch the phone while driving. I experimented with having a male voice, but reverted back to the female voice. (Apparently, I’m not the only one with a gender preference.)

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All done!

Thirty minutes later—time mostly spent debating colors, ringtones, apps, and Start designs—I was done. Later, I also installed Windows Phone app for desktop,so I could transfer my photos to my PC. (I haven’t played around with the camera very much yet, so perhaps that’ll be a future post.)

In all, I love my new Lumia: The hardware is beautiful, and I’m very happy I waited for a red one. I like the having the small Tiles on the Start screen, and being able to choose the size that works best for me or the app. And my daughter is elated to have her very own part of my phone.

I’d love to hear how you handle changing phones, what your habits are, and any tips or tricks you’ve picked up along the way!

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See also: Get Started with Windows Phone 8 and Migrating to your new Windows Phone (from the HTC Blog)