Customize Your Windows Phone 8 Start Screen

Edited by Batkingnz, Eng, Lynn, Zornitsa Bukovska and 4 others

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Windows Phone 8 is a mobile operating system based on simplicity and striking visual design. While many have embraced the almost minimalistic start screen, there are some of you who want to customize your devices. If you your previous device was an Android, an iOS or a Symbian, it takes awhile to appreciate and make the most of your Windows Phone with a Microsoft's mobile OS. In this article, we will review some common frustrations users have with the interface, point of standout apps that will make your start screen not only visually satisfying, but also more functional, as well as offer some tips and suggestions.

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The Basics

  1. 1
    Managing Tiles
    One of the most interesting features on the Windows Phone is that it's based on tiles and live tiles. Think of them as icons with some added functionality. Live tiles display information from its app. For example, if you pin a live tile for a weather app to your start screen, the tile will periodically update the local weather.
    1. To remove a tile from the start screen, just long press on any tile and press the "Unpin" icon.
    2. To move a tile around the start screen, long press and then drag the tile to the desired location.
    3. To change the size of a tile, long press and then press the size adjuster. There are three tile sizes available, but not all apps are compatible with the double-width tile.
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  2. 2
    Changing Themes
    The Windows Phone gives you a choice - a light theme and a dark theme. Additionally, you can change the accent color. This will change your tile colors as well as certain elements within the applications and the OS itself. To open your theme settings, tap "Settings" from the apps menu and then choose "Themes".
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Advanced Customization

A basic start screen

Reading the above, you might be left wondering, is that it? Although customization seems sparse (as an example, many users complain of not being able to change the background aside from the solid light or dark color), there are some neat tricks you can use to increase the eye candy on your start screen. Take a look at the image on the right of the default start screen with no customization, and then check out our tricks and recommended apps, along with some fully customized start screens at the end of the article.

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  1. 1
    Add Your Photos Tile
    The photo tile is a great way to create a better-looking start screen immediately. Placed anywhere on your screen, this live tile will display a slideshow of your pictures as long as you increase the size of the tile to double or double-width. If there are only certain photos you want to show on your start screen, just add them to your favorites in the photo app. To add the photo tile, just long hold on your photos app in the main apps menu then select "Pin to Start".
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  2. 2
    Add People Tiles
    You can add people tiles to add some color and functionality to your start screen. While viewing your contacts, just long press on any contact to pin them to the start. You can choose any of the three tile sizes, and tapping the tile will take you directly to their contact card.
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  3. 3
    Add Quick Toggle Tiles
    To change settings like enabling and disabling WiFi or Bluetooth you'd usually go through their individual menus in the settings menu. You can add apps like Custom Tiles Maker, which will create quick toggle shortcuts to your apps from your start screen.
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  4. 4
    Image Tiles
    Aside from using the photo app tile to add photos to your start screen, you can also use Custom Tiles Maker to add picture tiles to your start screen. These can be anything, from single small tiles to a combination of many tiles to form an image. Just open the app and choose "Create Simple Tiles". Then select a tile layout and an image. This is a great way to add some personality to your start screen and is a good alternative to a background image.
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  5. 5
    Add Header Tiles
    Reviewers and users alike have often mentioned that the Windows Phone does not allow the use of folders for start screen applications. For many, this is not a problem, but if you have a lot of tiles laid out and you want to be super organized, then folders would definitely help. Using the app Header Tiles, you can create custom tiles with text headings on your start screen to use as markers, and arrange all of your applications below, or around them.
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  6. 6
    The Windows Phone 8 start screen doesn't have to be boring
    Although Microsoft has chosen to utilize a different design philosophy than other operating systems, Windows Phone can be both beautiful and functional with a little bit of know how. Your start screen is only limited by your own imagination, so why not get creative? If you have tips and tricks of your own or any questions, then be sure to share them with us in the comments section below.
    Custom start screens using Header Tiles & Custom Tiles Maker
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Questions and Answers

Any way to add a picture to the main screen besides the dark or light background for WP8?

Unfortunately, backgrounds of Windows Phone 8 can be only black and white, but you have the opportunity to choose between 20 different live tile colors. Follow the next steps to change the tile color:

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  • Open the Settings app.
  • From the System Settings menu, choose "Themes".
  • Now you can personalize your background and color combination - for example - tap on background > black then tap on accent color > teal.
  • Tap the Home button to reload see the results of your customization.
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You can change the picture of your lock screen on a Windows Phone 8, by following the next steps:

  • Tap "Settings".
  • Choose "Lock Screen".
  • Select "Change Photo".

Now you can select your image and adjust it until it fits your screen the way you want.

  • Tap "Done".

You can also change your background photo, which is usually in the Photos Hub.

  • Tap on "Photos".
  • Choose "Choose Background".
  • Select your photo and click "Done".

You won't be able to add a customized picture to your Metro screen. The metro screen is a screen with tiles. You can in fact change the screen wallpaper on the main screen by locating a picture>>right click>>click on set as wallpaper.

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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : (WM) Windows Mobile

Recent edits by: VC, Nuance, Alma

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