Random Tips and How-Tos

Keyboard shortcuts using CTRL on the built-in soft keyboard

Many of the standard keyboard shortcuts found on the desktop PC work with the soft keyboard built into touch screen devices (Pocket PCs, Smartphone Professionals). To use them, display the built-in soft keyboard (or a similar third-party alternative), tap on the CTRL key, and tap again on the appropriate letter. The shortcut keys listed below can be used as an alternative to menu commands in most programs.

How to prioritize usability in mobile solution design

Maximize the potential for a successful mobile deployment by properly prioritizing usability components when building or selecting an application.

Try before you buy

Microsoft periodically upgrades the OS and applications found on Windows Mobile devices. They design the OS to be “backward compatible,” which means that third-party software written for earlier versions of the OS should work on devices running newer versions. Because of differences in screen resolutions and the user interfaces found on newer Windows Mobile devices, there are cases where software written for an earlier version of the OS will not work well on a later version.

Set an e-mail follow-up flag

Messaging now supports the ability to set a follow-up flag to e-mail messages. The mobile user’s e-mail account must be hosted by an Exchange Server 2007.

  1. Open the desired e-mail.
  2. Select Menu >Follow up >Set Flag. (You can also set Complete Flag and Clear Flag.)

The Messaging application on WM 6 devices now allows you to attach follow-up flags to important e-mails.

Different factors may affect mobile phone call quality

Here is a list of different factors that can affect calls on your mobile phone:
  • Built-in components: The receptivity of the phone’s antenna as well as the quality of the built-in microphone and speaker can affect call quality. Different phones are built with different components, and bad performance may not always be the carrier’s fault. That said, most phone-enabled Windows Mobile devices in the U.S. are sold by carriers, and they test them extensively before offering them.

How to delete a partnership in ActiveSync

If your ActiveSync partnership isn’t working correctly, you should delete the existing partnership and reestablish it. To delete a partnership, first disconnect your device from your computer. Then, open ActiveSync on your PC and click on File >Delete Partnership (or Delete Mobile Device).

Create new Office documents on Windows Mobile 6 smartphones

Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition for smartphones includes the ability to edit Office (Word and Excel) documents, which was not available in previous versions of Windows Mobile for smartphones. However, the ability to create new documents is not built into WM 6 Standard. Here is an easy workaround for this:

"Rip" music from your CDs

All touch screen devices and non-touch screen smartphones come with Windows Media Player Mobile built in. This lets you play music files recorded in MP3 and Windows Media Audio (WMA) formats, and view video recorded in WMV format.

Avoid skyrocketing cell phone bills

John Frederick Moore at CNET.com gives advice on how to keep cell phone bills at a manageable level. Click here for the article.

Use shorthand in Transcriber

If you use the Transcriber option for entering text into your touch screen device, you can make the process easier by using the Shorthand feature so that any shorthand text that you write on the screen (e.g. “app”) will appear as the full (longhand) word typed out (“application”). Here’s how you do it:

How to save Web images on pre-WM 5 Pocket PCs and non-touch screen smartphones

Viewed Web images are automatically saved in one of the sub-folders found in the \Windows\Profiles\Guest\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5 folder. Use File Explorer or File Manager to find them. Then copy them elsewhere and rename them as necessary.

Configure touch screen devices to use GPS

Windows Mobile 5 and 6 touch screen devices have a GPS setup program called “GPS” (or “External GPS”) located in the System tab of Settings. This program allows you to set up and run more than one GPS application simultaneously. The GPS setup program has three tabs:

Cold kills your device's battery and can affect its display

A winter warning: If you're working outside, don't leave your Windows Mobile device sitting on a bench for any length of time. If you drive around a lot, don't store it in your glove compartment. Cold decreases the power output of batteries. If the battery freezes, you can damage it and have to replace it. If the battery voltage goes low enough, pre-WM5 devices may lose data stored in RAM memory.

Using CAB files to install programs

Some online vendors offer third-party programs as “CAB files.” These can be downloaded directly to your Windows Mobile device via a direct Internet connection or copied over using an ActiveSync or Windows Mobile Device Center connection.

How to save documents to storage cards by default

Configure your touch screen device to automatically save documents to a storage card using the Menu >Options screen in Notes, Word, or Excel (pre-WM 5: Tools >Options). In non-touch screen WM 6 smartphones, you must save documents to a storage card individually using Menu >File >Save As.

Powering down phone-enabled devices to conserve power

Most phone-enabled devices can be powered down (completely turned off) to conserve battery power. This is accomplished by pressing and holding the power on/off button (or the red End Call button if your device has no power button). Note that powering down a device is different from leaving the device in suspend mode (which means that the screen is off but the device is still using power and its phone and other core operations are still running). Pressing the power button once on a touch screen device will put it into suspend mode (pressing it once again will turn it back on).

How to schedule a meeting using Calendar

Meetings are Calendar appointments that include other people. When you create a meeting, an e-mail containing the meeting request is sent to the people that you select in the Appointment dialog box. Note that WM 6 non-touch screen smartphones have this ability, but WM 5 smartphones do not.

E-mail clients for Pocket PCs

Read Werner Ruotsalainen’s updated roundup of e-mail clients for Pocket PCs here.

Accessing the "Run" option

Windows Mobile touch screen devices have a “Run” option that lets you start a program by entering its executable file name. For example, if you wanted to use Run to start Internet Explorer Mobile, you would follow these steps:

Use the “Hint” option to remember a password

If you want to set a password to access your touch screen device for added security but are afraid you might forget it, you can use the “Hint” option in the Password menu.
  1. Go to Start >Settings >Password (or Lock) and tap the Hint tab.
  2. Enter a hint for yourself in the data field. Remember that the hint that you enter may be visible by others, so be sure it is something that only you will know.
  3. After you have set the desired Hint (as well as a password and options in the Password tab), tap OK.