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

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

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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.)

Outlook_add_account_16x9 Outlook_unread_conversation grouping_16x9

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.


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.


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.)


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!


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

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  • Frits
    0 Posts

    The windows phone I had years ago would show med my to-do items for the day on the start screen. What happened to that feature?

  • fyronik
    0 Posts

    I am using a lumia 710 right now. The time to upgrade my phone is approaching and i would love to upgrade to a 920, but theres No way right now that I would upgrade to another windows phone when you have taken away support for the zune software... and for what reason? none. Windows and xbox were once about giving people choices, now you are taking choices away, saddening. New sync software = 100 steps in the wrong direction, not just choice, but features as well. horrible. Plz take this feedback and fix....

  • Hi lisa how can I customize my tiles the way some have done on I seen some that have a picture covering the entire screen with their tiles, how can I do this to my phone?

  • @Raihan, there's no way I know of to save TO the SIM.  I have to say that I just don't understand why anyone would still want to use SIM to store contacts.  If you lose your phone, you lose your contacts, period.  But with WP7 and WP8 if you have your contacts in the cloud, and you lose your phone, no worry.  Jump into and disable or remotely wipe your phone so nobody can access the data/contacts.  Then, get a new Windows Phone and as soon as you login the first time with it all your contacts are available. It's just much safer and smarter.  You correctly discovered that you cannot access SIM contacts directly, but you can import them onto the phone and, thus, the cloud.  You clearly don't think it was smart to have contacts on the cloud, but I think it is the most foolhardy to leave them on a SIM.  As I said, if you configure your security settings you never have to worry about privacy.  Turn on the PIN for your lockscreen, that's job number one.  Then go into, and choose My Phone from the dropdown list of your username (upper right of website).  If you have turned on Location in the settings on your phone, you should see a small map on the website the shows the last known location of your phone and a link for options to Find, Ring, Lock or Erase your phone.  THAT is security that doesn't put you at the mercy of a little chip that can fail or get lost.

  • @jocar, before I take that on (and I'm happy to do so!), I want to make sure I understand what you're asking for.  Are you asking for how to setup POP email DIRECTLY on the Windows Phone or how to setup POP in the OUTLOOK.COM screen so that your Windows Phone uses it?

  • Hi, ho un NOKIA 900 come posso aggiornare a Windows 8 ????

  • Raihan
    2 Posts

    Hi Lisa, yesterday I bough HTC 8S phone. I cannot copy contacts into new SIM. the ONLY option in people hub is to sync with my hotmail account. How do I copy those contacts into my new SIM and unsync with my homtail. I dont want to see my hotmail email and other private stuff poping up in mobile. If Ioose mobile then I will loose my privacy. I would only like to use my SIM contacts.

    So far my search found that WP8 doesnt have any option to copy contact in SIM and WP8 doesnt see contacts in SIM. WP8 can import contact from SIM though.

    I been working as an Wintel Architect for 10 years. I bought my first Windows phone with a huge hype and expectation in my heart. Who is the einstein come up the idea that all your contacts should be in cloud. I travel a lot. if I use/sync hotmail via my mobile for contacts I will be charged for roaming.

    Do you have any solutions of this problem?

  • jocar
    0 Posts

    scubadog20...could you please provide a detailed step by step process for what you had to do to setup your windows 8 phone using a pop email account.  Thas what a very large number of us have!  Thanks

  • How do I move pictures from my Lumia 900 to the Lumia 920

  • @jschroedl, It might help our ability to make suggestions if you could describe a little bit more about what's driving your need to use a different account or combine.  You see, you can actually go into and bring your various accounts together via Aliasing.  You mentioned that isn't your provider, but you didn't explain who your provider was.  I run my own domain and my own email servers, all from my home.  And, initially, I had created my Hotmail account using MY email address (because it does let you do that).  All my Windows Phones (Samsung Focus, Lumia 900 and Lumia 920) had no issues with this as my device login.  HOWEVER, Windows 8 had so many ridiculous problems with a non-Microsoft account as the address (because it does NOT properly support POP email) I had no choice but to do a few things.  BTW, upgrading my Hotmail account to Outlook did NOT solve the problem, because I was still using my own domain address as the account name.  So, I RENAMED my Outlook account to a similar name but using the domain.  This allowed all my various Zune, Windows, etc. ownership to follow me (music and app purchases, account details, etc.).  That was easy enough.  I added back in my own personal domain address and then configured IT as my primary send/receive.  In other words, as far as anyone else was concerned not a thing had changed.  I DID, of course, have to hard reset my phones to use the new account name with the address and reinstall apps (which is uber-easy from the website).  And, of course, I now have to use that address for logging into my Windows 8 machines (all four of them) but EVERYTHING works so smoothly now that it was worth the minor inconvenience.  

    Oh, and since I have a number of other addresses I use, I added those to my account via the settings for adding other send/receive email addresses, and I chose to configure each to use its own subfolder rather than keep them separate.  One visit to my Mail app on Windows 8 or the email app on my Windows Phone and I can see all my emails, broken down by folder.  LOVING it.

  • mwr
    0 Posts

    Two questions...

    1. >I also installed Windows Phone app for desktop,so I could transfer my photos to my PC.

  • Yup - Red Lumina 920 here, too -- very cool.  Yes, a blog on the camera would be great - esp since I have not delved into the different lenses, or panorama.  Speech is cool.  But the KILLER APP on the Windows Phone is these Live Tiles - after this WP8 experience (and experiencing my newly upgraded Windows 8 notebook, with Logitech T650 touchpad, and my new Win8 desktop machine, with Logi T620) I sometimes wonder how long 'those other guys' (you know, the Dead Tiles U/I people) will take to come up with something that duplicates Live Tiles, but which is presented as something "never before seen that 'just works'".  Then, of course, all those old apps out there will have to be updated with a Live Tile (-like) U/I.  I love the updating photos on screen.  But the best thing is I can see how many new emails, texts, battery life, and such on my start screen AND even on the Lock Screen without unlocking my phone (and I can use Speech to voice dial a phone call without even unlocking my screen, too).  All very well thought out functionality.  Attaboy to the whole team.

  • caresrg
    5 Posts

    Windows Phone for Desktop is a wispy shadow of what was possible with Windows 7 and WP7. Please make Zune software compatible with WP8. Just rename it Xbox something-or-another if you must.

  • FWIW re: my earlier comment about backing up start screen, I added my vote to this uservoice suggestion:

  • KC Lemson
    19 Posts

    jubbbird: No, it's not - but there's a high volume of feedback on there so it does take us some time to make our way through and close down open issues. If you post the links to specific requests which you know have been addressed we can get those resolved quickly, and then we'll catch up on the others when we're able to.

  • jschroedl
    24 Posts

    Thanks for the replies Michael and @danielgr. That's very disappointing that I could not change the account. I sure hope that's remedied. In my case, I have more than one account and would rather use a different one. @danielgr, I could see that helping if I used but that's not my email provider.  

    What would be ideal I guess is the ability to consolidate MS Accounts. For example, if I created one for the phone long ago and one I prefer for Windows 8. Now I'm stuck with two accounts and moving to use one will have me losing a lot one one of the accounts. This really sucks now that I think about it more.  MS, please create a way to combine accounts! I see no good reason not to have this capability.

  • I don't mean to hijack this discussion, but is now being ignored?

    Half the issues I've voted for, including USB storage which has several thousand votes, haven't been 'closed'. Given these things arrived in WP8, and perhaps some will be in 7.8, surely it should be closed so we enthusiasts can move our votes elsewhere.

    I even received a couple of emails to tell me that some issues had been closed, a while back, but that's all stopped and there's some important ones still open that have clearly been dealt with.

  • Sounds like switching should be a doddle except that the article conveniently leaves out quite a few things that cannot be ported, transferred or otherwise migrated from the HTC Titan 2 to the Lumia 920 including:

    - Call history

    - SMS history

    - IE Favourites

    - Certificates

    - Custom Alarms

    - Wifi network settings

    - Bluetooth pairings

    And the list goes on.

  • @lkessler - that app is called Connection Tiles. It's the same app behind the airplane mode tile right next to the wifi tile. I like having quick access to both.

    @Cap_Ron - good tip on Data Sense.

  • Wouldn't it be nice if your Start Screen was also backed up so when you switch between two WP8 phones, or have to reset one when you get another, that the layout does not have to be re-done? That's where I will end up spending most time (size, arrangement, order of tiles), not the re-installs of apps. :-(

  • Mfdsam
    0 Posts

    I have referred to my Windows phones as disposable.  But only because I can have a new one customized in under an hour.  I've used Windows mobile devices for more than 10 years and Win Phone 7, 7.5 and now 8 just continue to impress me.  My only lament is that I would have to change my data plan from my old unlimited plan if I want to tether

  • Nice article, but it's missing one crucial item (imho).  Data Management.  Configure Data Sense ASAP.  My son got his HTC 8X and was listening to his music in his collection and racked up 2+GB in 9 days costing us $20 in data overages.  When adding music, make sure you download it to your phone (WiFi: good idea)  Otherwise you're streaming it each time you listen.  I configured Data Sense and now we can see exactly where his data is being used.  Also DRM music from Zune Pass will not transfer, you have to download each song again (My son had 900+ songs in his music pass subscription).

    I'll add other things as he hits them. :-)

  • danielgr
    73 Posts

    @jschroedl: You cannot "change your Microsoft Account" and keep your apps, but I just in case, you CAN RENAME your associated e-mail/login without losing anything. Changing your e-mail is, I believe, the main reason one would like to "change the account", so that's why I say it.

    If such is your case, simply go to , click the options wheel -> More Email Options -> Rename your e/mail address. After you do it:

    - your old address will become an alias (which you can delete) so that you keep receiving your e-mail if you want.

    - your e-mail, contacts, skydrive, apps, W8 settings (everything linked to your Microsoft account) will keep working with the new account name.

    NOTE: Sometimes it may take a few days for all your messenger contacts, etc. to update.

    Hope that helped.

    PS: Don't forget that "renaming your Microsoft Account" requires you to reset your Windows Phone. So don't do it unless you are going to change it for a new one, or you understand to reset your present one. Did it already 3 times for family members and got no issues with it.

  • danielgr
    73 Posts

    Maybe it's because you have so many apps you didn't even notice, but I recently reinstalled my WP7.5 and there were plenty of apps not appearing in my purchase history, which was very annoying. Not even the likes of Skydrive and Skype, which I had to search, and install again.

    Ironically, I have installed my phone several times before and never had the same problem, so my guess is that something got lost in translation when Microsoft introduced the market place for WP8. Sure hope my "actual purchase history is still there", and that they get it sorted out by the time I get my WP8 next year.

  • Lisa. Could you tell me what the App is behind your WiFi tile in the 2nd last row?

  • @jschroedl: Good question--unfortunately that's something that's not possible to do. Here's a FAQ that explains some of the wrinkles around changing Microsoft accounts:

  • Getting mine for Christmas, debating between the black and red.  I wan the red, but I am worried about having a colored phone.  

  • jschroedl
    24 Posts

    When I get my new phone, I'd like to change to a different Micosoft Account. Can you point me to the steps to transfer my apps/payments to the new account?

  • Hey! I have a red Lumia 920 too! :) It's absolutely fantastic, and the camera is spectacular (although I confess I'd like Nokia to sharpen the images a bit too).

    It is fun looking at and seeing the variety of layouts. Truly WP8 is ours, and that's a great differentiator between platforms right now.