My 3 favorite tips for Internet Explorer Mobile

My 3 favorite tips for Internet Explorer Mobile

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[This is the first in an occasional series of tips and tricks from the engineers who create Windows Phone.-ed]

One question I frequently get from people when they learn I work on Windows Phone is, “What’s your favorite feature?”

I have many, but since I work specifically on Internet Explorer Mobile, today I thought I’d share a few of my favorite browser tips. None of these are hidden, exactly. But people are often happily surprised when I point them out.

#1 Customize a shortcut tile

You probably already know you can pin things to your phone’s Start screen, including a shortcut to the web page you’re viewing. But did you know you can customize these shortcut tiles, too?

Personally, I like to zoom in on a site’s logo so it’s easier to see at a glance. Some of my friends use this trick as a way to decorate their Start screen—for example, positioning a web page so certain colors or pictures show up more prominently in the shortcut tile. Here’s how to do it.

First, browse to the site you want to pin (left), then use your fingers to zoom in or reposition the page to the part you want to show up in the shortcut tile (right).

You can customize your Start screen shortcut tile so it's easier to read.Use your fingers to zoom in or center the page.

Tap More () and then tap pin to start. Your shortcut tile appears on the Start screen.

Then tap Pin to start.And this is how the customized tile looks.

#2 Search faster

Recently I was browsing a news article on my phone that mentioned a trail I’d never heard of before. I could have tapped the Search button, and then typed the name into the Bing search box.

But there’s a faster way to look up new or unfamiliar terms. Just tap a word to highlight it (left), then press the Search button on your phone to find out more with Bing.

To quickly look up a word on a webpage, tap to highlight it.Then press the Search button to look it up with Bing.

Once your phone has been updated to include the copy and paste feature, you can also highlight and search for phrases. Here’s one final time-saving trick. The browser address bar also doubles as a search box. When you want to find something, just tap inside the address bar, type a keyword, and hit Enter.

#3 Choose how to see the web

Have you ever used your phone to visit a site, only to discover it looks different from what you’re used to seeing on your desktop PC?

Many popular sites detect when someone is browsing on a phone and serve up a mobile-optimized version of the site in response. Some people prefer these sites because they can load faster and require less zooming and panning to read on a smaller screen. (You can see the difference between Amazon’s mobile-optimized site and its standard site below.)

This is Amazon's mobile-optimized homepage.This is Amazon's standard homepage.

But sometimes you might want to see the desktop version of a site on your phone, because it has content the mobile version lacks, or just because you prefer it. Some sites provide a link to switch between the mobile and desktop versions. But Internet Explorer Mobile offers another option. In Settings>Internet Explorer, look for Website preference, then just tap the type of site you prefer to see.

You can tell Internet Explorer Mobile which version of a website you prefer--mobile or desktop.

Li-Juan Qin, Senior Program Manager, Windows Phone Engineering

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  • @Wizll : Thank you very much for replying. Your method is perfect for a single digit entry but if I'm on a long list of numbers I'll prefer to have the numerical keyboard ON till I've finished it.  Yesterday I had this to add into my Notes app

    1. 23*7

    2. 35*5

    3. 55*7

    4. 33*7

    this went on for 3 more points... It was hell trying to enter this data in. :(

    HOPE they would make it easier for us.

    Appreciate the contact.

  • wizll
    9 Posts

    @thenewmozart while not exactly what you're asking for, you can tap and hold the symbol/number button then drag your finger to the #  and numbers, without having to constantly tap back and forth.

  • @Michael - I think everyone loves TIps & Hints.  I agree with some of the others that it would be great if they were a different RSS feed, Blog (Windows Phone Tips & Hints Blog) and/or their own distribution channel.  Either way, I am enjoying the improved communication channel between Microsoft and the consumers.  Thanks!

  • I like to use "Send to WP7" on my desktop to send links interesting articles or sites I find while browsing on my Desktop or Laptop.  It's FREE and it's secure!  That's great because sometimes I find some great sites customized for Windows Phone   They're also working on an Alpha product for sending files and documents from your desktop to your WP7 device too. Here's a link to their site:

  • #2 is a great tip!

    I was wondering if there is no way to change the default font size for ie mobile? Some mobile web pages has really really small fonts. I know, I can zoom in, but thats not very comfortable for long articels. If there is no way to change the font size, please integrate this in mango!

  • Thanks for the tips! I didn't know #1 & #2. I'm having a small issue reading the comments on the blog via HTC Mozart. The right edge has been cut off so certain words will be missing letters. If we take the post right above mine 'cleverbyhalf' The 'S' in maps in the first sentence has been cut off the 'at' in 'that' has been cut off.

    The other issue I'm having is trying to position the cursor within a word I'm trying to edit I

    E. if I want to change a letter in a certain word I'm supposed to tap and hold and it brings up an I-bar which you can place anywhere you like. When I tap and hold the I-bar appears way above my point of holding and trying to position it where I want to is just hell because it doesn't move with your finger, it a few sentence above it. So I have to keep dragging my finger till it is virtually on the keyboard in order to get the I-bar where I want it. It would be nice if the bar can be where my finger is so it hovers over the word I'm after instead of being elsewhere. Any solutions?

    Finally... Is there a tip to keep the numerical keyboard ON for longer instead of going off when I press the space bar? If I'm to type #1 & #2 & #3 or even 1, 2, 3... It keeps jumping back to the alphanumeric keyboard so there is a lot of clicking back and forth. If it could remain on the numeric keyboard till I've finished and then lets me go back manually that would be superb! Hope you will be able to help :)

    This is a superb blog. Please don't stop it.

  • My favorite is the tight integration between maps and the other apps. I discovered the other day that if you put a fully-formed address in the 'Location' of an appointmment, you can pull it up on a map with a single tap. Very cool.

    Any word if/when a nodo update will be available for older Samsung phones? My phone is one of them that will hang trying to do the most recent update.

  • AdolfoM
    1 Posts

    Great tips Li-Juan!

    Now, who does a WP7 business user have to beg to, for the contacts to have the Company field searchable? It drives me crazy to not be able to use something I had in my WM5.5...

    Cheers from Portugal!

  • KTGiang
    34 Posts

    As a user that looks at this web blog habitually now, I welcome new information on the blog. Whether it be new and interesting stuff, or old and important shortcuts. I personally am also interested in Arrow22's question regarding about language packs as well. It is near essential to have this option available for those of us who have relatives who use another language. If Microsoft spent the time to make it, I feel as if the users should have the option to use it.

  • I love this phone, and I love IE, but my only problem with it, is trying to close it. Having the back button to move back, but also close the app is quite annoying. I have found a way to have an empty page open at all times, then switching to it when I want to close IE, but save all my pages. Nice fix, but again, why do I need to do that? How about adding an additional feature to the back button where as if you hold it, it will just close the app altogether?

  • Kentrepid
    13 Posts

    This is great and I do love the phone...

    Re: Point 3 - how you see the web - would be great if you could change this setting while viewing a page within a tab, rather than having to go to settings to change it for all of IE.

    But how about folders for your IE favourites?

    And how about Bing Local for other Markets beside US and UK?  Your WP7 market is bigger than just US you know Microsoft.  How about Bing search being as good on your own phone as it is in the Bing App on iPhone?


  • I kina dissappointed when I saw the ie9 demo on MIX. IE 9 took my fave buttons out of the browser. those 3 buttons are the ones that I used most. but on ie 9, I have to tap more just to access these features (tabs, fave, add to fave). why do you guys even have to take out those buttons just for the sake of a bigger view screen? I thought the idea of wp7 is less touch.

  • @ Li-Juan Qin...Thanks.  These will come in handy.  Oh, you have 22 updates in the Marketplace. :-)

  • Scheezo
    3 Posts

    Thank Li-Juan Qin for the great tips!  I have already put them in to use.  I'd LOVE to see more!

  • @Michael Stroh - Thanks for being very involved with the community here and getting some of our questions answered.

  • @Wurstsalat: There's a blog and table update on the way today...very soon. Trust me: Eric and his team are 110% committed to getting the remaining updates delivered. Nobody has forgotten.

    @Mythos: Please see the answer I provided to @bazanime above...

  • cmwind
    71 Posts

    i like the tips and trick as long as they have some substance to them

  • Mythos
    6 Posts

    Thanks for tips.

    I have an HTC HD7 from Bell and presumably it was them who made Yahoo the default search engine when browsing. Is their anyway to change that back to Bing?

  • ...and still no update on international "when comes nodo"  page. Thanks for ignoring your customers

  • @ThaRebeliouZ: Next month

    @Gurtej: Here's the response I received from the team: "Hi Gurtej, yes, we are expanding Unicode support on IE9 to also include surrogate encoded characters needed to fully support East Asian fonts.”

  • When are the Developers getting the new tools announced at MIX11?

  • @arrow22

    I know what you mean. There is a marked improvement on communication between the folks on Windows Phone and us the consumers. I feel like I have almost as much to gain or lose by Windows Phone suceeding as the engineers on the Windows Phone team do and the communication over the last month or so has been a welcome addition. I couldn't imagine being able to give and take advice and tips from the guys that work on, say, the iPhone.

    I've recently converted two more Blackberry users over to Windows Phone and I think it's just the beginning.

  • @ MICHAEL STROH....will the people from the virgin island get the NODO  UPDATE

  • arrow22
    50 Posts


    Thank you for the update, I look forward to hearing back.

    I also wanted to say that I hugely appreciate the open and transparent communication that has taken place here in the past 2 months. It truly makes a difference!

  • @bazanime: Thanks for your comment. This will be addressed in Mango. More details in the coming months. Stay tuned.

  • bazanime
    13 Posts

    Great tips as these are alas I can not get #2 to work as your because Microsoft in their great wisdom allowed O2 UK to set the failing and redundant search engine Yahoo as default within the browser.  Thus I can not enjoy Bing the number two great search engine on the planet to its fullest. Its very frustrating.

    So this begs the question... Why are the carriers more important than the consumers to the point of crippling such a fine OS?

    Please help.

  • Soonerfan
    10 Posts

    @Michael, Yes these tips are helpful. I would enjoy seeing this become a regular post.

  • @arrow22--Thanks for weighing in.  Good  questions--let me ask around.  If i'm able to elaborate, I'll report back here.

    @Strider_Auz--Ahh, it's always a fine day when we can teach you something new about the phone, mate! :-) Seriously, though, glad you enjoyed it. I'm also a fan of the "I'm running late" button. In fact, I vividly remember sitting around a meeting room last year with a bunch of other folks, debating and discussing what that message should say.  We had some fun with that one! We kicked around a few half-serious suggestions that certainly would have raised your boss's eyebrows. Luckily, sanity prevailed.

    The RSS feed idea is a very cool one. I'll look into that.

    @Gurtej: I'll ask Li-Juan if she's able to respond to this.

  • Sheeds
    205 Posts


    Tips and Tricks here would be great.  There are lots of little wonderful touches in WP7 - and not all of them are obvious - but can really help you.  For instance, being a rep and being on the road, I love the fact that in just a couple of presses of the phone I can send someone an automated "I'm running late...." meeting update.  Wonderful when you are stuck in traffic!

    Suggestion though -

    Could you add all the Tips N Tricks posts to a seperate RSS feed link.  Then for those of us blogging, we can draw on just the Tips N Tricks posts as a single RSS feed to our site.

    Just an idea :)  Nice.  Maybe you can also have a permalink on the site somewhere taking people to the official DEV feedback area for WP7 improvement ideas; and similar again for any consumer feedback.  I have been guilty myself of throwing things into post replies like this, when they could have been better posted in the official areas MS are watching and reviewing...

    Nice post though:) I never even bloody thought of zooming the webpage before pinning to start menu doh!

  • Gurtej
    24 Posts


    Will the full IE9 browser for WP7 support Unicode fonts?

  • arrow22
    50 Posts


    While this is all very neat and I appreciate the post, many of us have serious problems with our handsets, and an explanation, or at least an ETA as to when some of these might be resolved would be really appreciated because unfortunately, it feels as though these are going unnoticed.

    1. Language packs.

    As you know, T-Mobile is distributing the HD7 with ONLY English keyboard language. While I understand this is an issue from T-Mobile's end, having the ability to independently install language packs from the Maketplace is essential. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be stuck replying to family and friends in English instead of our native language. Furthermore, when asian languages are released with Mango, many current users who compromised for the sake of WP7 will want to be able to update their phones to use their native language. What can we expect going forward?

    2. International Bing support

    I live in Canada. If I search for an address and don't follow it by my city, Bing Maps will typically search around the world for a city with a similar name in another country. Businesses are completely absent, and a search for one produces similar results. Bing search only returns web results.

    As it is now however, the maps app is useless, and incredibly frustrating to use. Is this a known issue? Will this be addressed in a future update?

    Thank you

  • @Michael - Yes, please! I did not know #1 and #2 (the highlight & search). These are wonderful tips and tricks that help us make better use of the phone. I think it would be useful to have the WP team pick an area each week to highlight some tips and tricks. Thanks!

  • Thanks for the comments guys.  Glad you found something useful. A question for the assembled crowd: Would you like to see more of these kinds of posts? Any feature areas you'd like to see more tips-n-tricks from? If you provide some suggestions, I'll line up the engineers!

  • The first one was pretty interesting and a really nice way to have your tile look cool. I knew about the other 2. Thanks for these tips.

  • Thanks for the tips. I didn't know the second one about tapping a word and then tapping search to run a search for that word or phrase.