The complete guide to Windows Phone 8 settings

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Application settings

Background Tasks

Find out what's running in the background

You can choose which apps are allowed to run tasks in the background from this screen. If you permit apps to run tasks in the background, they may use your phone’s data connection to download updates; if you’re on a limited data plan, it’s a good idea to turn background tasks off for all applications.

The list of apps that you’ll see in the Background Tasks setting screen will depend on the apps you have installed. To prevent an app from performing background tasks, tap the app name and press the Block button. To reactivate background tasks for an app, tap the app name and select Turn background tasks back on for this app the next time I open it.

Some apps will perform background tasks whether you want them to or not, and cannot be blocked. To discover which apps fall into this category, tap the Advanced button to see all of the apps that can perform background tasks. Although you will not be able to block any apps from performing background tasks here, you will at least learn which apps to avoid using until you have more data on your plan.


Customize games

Since the Games screen lets you manage your Xbox games settings, it's relevant only if you have an Xbox gaming console. You can also access this settings screen through the Games app by tapping the More ellipses and then Settings.

Here, you can turn on several features:

  • Connect with Xbox: If you connect your phone with your Xbox gaming console, your phone will be able to upload game scores and achievements to your Xbox.
  • Sync game requests: If this setting is turned on, your phone will download new Xbox multiplayer-game requests. In other words, you’ll receive an alert when your friends want to play Xbox Live games with you.
  • Show game notifications: If this setting is turned on, you will see Xbox notifications on your phone.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer advanced settings

The Internet Explorer screen lets you change a few settings pertaining to Internet Explorer, your phone’s default Web browser. You can also reach this screen via the Internet Explorer app by tapping the More ellipses and then Settings.

To choose how your phone displays websites, tap the box under 'Website preference' and choose whether it should show the mobile version of a site (if available) or the standard desktop version of the site.

You can also customize the behavior of the address-bar button, which is set by default to stop or refresh the page that you’re on. If you prefer, you can change it to a favorites button or a tabs button in the Internet Explorer settings screen.

The Internet Explorer settings screen also lets you delete your browser history and adjust advanced settings. The advanced settings include the ability to filter websites, as well as a Do Not Track feature and options for blocking cookies. This screen is also the place where you can select the default search provider, indicate how to open links from other apps, choose to get suggestions from Bing, and manage the files that websites store on your phone (if you've elected to allow websites to store files).


Make the most of maps

In the Maps screen, you can turn your location on or off for better local search results. You can also choose to download maps (so that you can use the maps feature without a data connection), check for updates, or delete your maps history. It's worth noting that the features found in this settings screen are different from the ones you access via the Maps app (by tapping the More ellipses and then Settings).


Messaging features

The Messaging screen allows you to toggle various messaging features. You can also reach this screen in the Messaging app by tapping the More ellipses and then Settings.

In this settings screen, you can turn on (and off) text message backup, Facebook chat, MMS acknowledgement (which lets the sender know when you’ve received a text message), and group text (which keeps all group text replies in one thread).


Music+Videos options

The Music+Videos screen lets you change settings related to media. You can also access this settings screen via the Music+Videos app by tapping the More ellipses and then Settings.

On this screen, you can turn several features on or off:

  • Connect with Xbox Music: This feature lets you update song information, artist and album images, and more through Xbox Music.
  • Xbox Music cloud collection: Turning on this setting lets you include your Xbox Music collection of songs on your phone.
  • Now playing on Xbox: With this setting active, you can see, on your phone, what music or video is currently running on your Xbox.


Options for Office

In the Office settings screen, you can change your Office username, open SharePoint links in the Office hub, and reset Office. You can also see information about your version of Office.


The People screen (which you can also access through the People hub by tapping the More ellipses and then Settings) lets you modify settings related to your contact list. Here you can choose to import SIM contacts (if you've saved any on your SIM card), filter your contact list by account (for example, you can hide your Facebook, Google, Hotmail, or Skype contacts from your phone), and hide posts from the contacts you’ve filtered.

You can also choose to sort your contact list by first name or last name, and to display names with the first name or last name first ("Sarah Jacobsson" versus "Jacobsson, Sarah"), as well as whether to use your location and whether to save check-in searches and locations. The bottom of this screen also provides another way to access and manage your email and social media accounts.


Phone and voicemail features

The Phone screen is where you’ll find your phone number (in case you don’t know what it is). Here you can also choose to use the default voicemail number or a different one, and you can call your voicemail directly.

This screen also allows you to turn on call forwarding, which sends incoming calls to another phone number, as well as “international assist,” which helps you call internationally by automatically correcting common mistakes. You can toggle SIM security on or off, too.


Photos+Camera settings

The settings in the Photos+Camera menu are different from the photo and video settings available within the Camera app itself. Here, you can choose whether to turn automatic upload (to your SkyDrive account) on or off, and you can elect whether to turn on location information for the photos that you take. You can also reset the camera here, as well as find apps to upload content. Other settings let you hold the camera button to wake the phone, or tap the screen to take pictures and videos.


Souped-up search

The Search screen lets you modify settings pertaining to Bing search, which is Windows Phone 8’s default search provider. Here, you can turn your location on so that the search function can use it to provide you with better local results. You can also modify your SafeSearch settings, allow the Search button to work from the lock screen, and get suggestions from Bing as you type. You can also delete your search history.


On the Store settings screen, you can create or change your wallet PIN to protect your music, app, and in-app purchases. You can also turn on personalized suggestions; if you do so, your phone will track what you do (as well as your location and social networking information) to offer suggestions for apps you may want to download. If you are worried about your phone or carrier tracking you, do not turn on personalized suggestions.

You can also access Store settings via the Store app itself by tapping the More ellipses and then Settings.


What's in your Wallet options?

The Wallet screen, which you can also access via the Wallet app by tapping the More ellipses and then Settings+Pin, lets you set up and change your wallet PIN to protect your assorted digital purchases so that strangers (or your children) can't spend money on your phone.

This story, "The complete guide to Windows Phone 8 settings" was originally published by TechHive.

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