Mobility

Easily manage Windows Phone 8 tiles

Jack Wallen provides some introductory information about manipulating tiles on Windows Phone 8.

Most mobile users are familiar with either iOS or Android, so the Windows Phone has taken a back seat. Because of this, there's little familiarity with the platform. This is also why I thought it would be beneficial to start a series on working with the Windows Phone 8.

When you press the Windows key on your Windows Phone, you're greeted by a set of tiles. These tiles are interactive and can be set up to best fit your needs. You can add, remove, move, and resize tiles for fastest access and easier tile usage. Once you've managed to get the hang of working with tiles, Windows Phone 8 becomes a much more user-friendly platform.

Let's start managing those tiles!

Adding and removing tiles

Think of a tile as a widget that offers interactive or streaming data to your home screen. Most of the applications you can install on the Windows Phone offer tiles that can be installed on the home screen.

In order to add a tile to the home screen, follow these steps:

  1. Slide the home screen to the left to reveal the applications listing (Figure A)
  2. Scroll through the listing until you see an app you want to add
  3. Long-press the app
  4. Select "pin to start"

The app should now appear on the home screen as a tile.

Figure A

The Verizon-branded HTC Windows Phone 8X.

To remove a tile from your home screen, do the following:

  1. Locate the tile to be removed
  2. Long-press the tile in question
  3. Tap the unpin icon (Figure B)
Figure B

Removing the Games tile is as simple as a long-press and tapping the unpin icon.
When the tile is removed, the remaining tiles do not resize. If a full row is removed, the tiles will reposition themselves to fill the gap. If, however, you leave a single square in a row (Figure C), you can re-arrange the tiles and even re-size some of them. Figure C

An open slot ready for a new tile or to be taken up by a larger, single tile.

There are three sizes of tiles:

  • Small - good for launchers (Figure D)
  • Medium - good if you need to just see minimal data
  • Large - good if you need to use for pics or want to see more data
Figure D

Here you see a tile set in the small size.

Let's say you have a tile that would better serve up your data in the large size. To resize that tile, do the following:

  1. Long-press the tile
  2. When the arrow icon appears (bottom right corner), tap the arrow
  3. Continue tapping the arrow until it's the right size

You can only resize a tile to take up the amount of space in a single row. If there's only a single square of space available, the only sizes that will work are small and medium. To resize to large, you have to have a full row available. You cannot size beyond a single row, and some tiles do not expand beyond medium size.

If you find you want to resize to a large tile, but the configuration doesn't allow it, you can long-press a tile and then maneuver the tiles around so that you have the space available to accommodate the large tile.

The tiles are on a fixed grid, but the grid is based on the smallest tile size. This means you can position them (vertically and horizontally - Figure E) in just about any position. Figure E

Here you see how tiles can be placed in nearly any location.

Just remember to base the sizing of tiles on what data and information each tile offers. For example, you don't want to use up a full row for the email tile that only offers you the number of emails in your current inbox. Save that space for a much more dynamic and space-hungry tile (such as People or Photos).

At first blush, the Windows Phone 8 home screen, with its toyish looking tiles, might seem a bit less than useful. However, If you spend a bit of time with them, you can make them work for you and not against you. The Windows Phone 8 home screen isn't nearly as flexible as, say, the Android home screen, but you can still wind up with a very clean and efficient interface for your mobile phone.

Do you have hands-on experience with Windows Phone 8? If so, how do you navigate the tiles? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
addisoncollins116
addisoncollins116

Windows 8 home screen is good , i think...and its not flexible like android home screen.. Let us also not to generalize and assume that all people knows how to use W8.. Need to be fair.

Thack
Thack

Why on earth is this article on Techrepublic? This site is for techies and tech professionals - we don't need this level of hand-holding on how to use WP8, for goodness' sake! Tell us something we don't know, will you? And target articles like this to your sister website Technophobes Anonymous.

ggarland
ggarland

I like my Nokia Lumia 920. I like WP8. Are there things I would like to see? Absolutely. Do I like it better than my old Android? Again, absolutely (for the most part). Don't know why I have to be on line to be able to see the maps in GPS. I don't know why there isn't individual volume controls for ringer, music, games, etc. Wish I could get rid of about 20 different "edit Hotmail" and "edit work" on each contact.

Adelejukerberg
Adelejukerberg

[b] To move a Tile [/b] 1. Tap and hold the Tile you want to move until it pops into the foreground. 2. Push the Tile where you want it to go. 3. When you're done moving Tiles, press the Start Start button button. [b] To resize a Tile [/b] 1. Tap and hold the Tile you want to change to a different size. 2. Tap the Resize arrow until the Tile changes to the size you want. 3. When you're done, press the Start Start button button. [b] To unpin a Tile [/b] 1. Tap and hold the Tile you want to remove from Start. 2. Tap Unpin Unpin icon.

AstroCreep
AstroCreep

...Jack Wallen used a Windows 8 phone?! Color me "surprised"! :) This isn't your every-day phone, is it? I have one and like it quite a bit, and would recommend it, albeit with asterisks in some areas (but I'd do the same for iOS and Android devices as well). What do you think of WP8 overall?

mark.cooper
mark.cooper

It looks like Jack may be contemplating a switch to Windows. He did have to mention, without any examples of course, "The Windows Phone 8 home screen isn’t nearly as flexible as, say, the Android home screen."

Ndiaz.fuentes
Ndiaz.fuentes

My one concern is the single volume control. It makes no sense to me. Having to constantly raise the volume because I lowered it to listen to music is annoying. I hope they can change this with an update, I really do. It's the one thing I dislike about an otherwise great phone.

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