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April 25, 2011

My 3 favorite tips for Internet Explorer Mobile

[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