Apr 29

What do the icons on your Windows Phone 8.1 mean?

If you’re new to Windows Phone 8.1, some icons have changed and there are some new ones.

Notification area

When a notification comes in and you don’t do anything with the toast (or, more importantly, miss it), this icon will appear in the status bar to let you know there’s one or more items in the notification area (that can be viewed by dragging down from the top of the screen):


Quiet Time

When quiet time is in effect (or “do not disturb”) you will see the following in the status bar:



When you’re connected to a VPN, you will see the following icon in the status bar:


Internet sharing

Internet sharing icon changed from the following:

to the following:


Driving mode

The driving mode icon changed from the following:

To the following:


Power Saver

The Power Saver mode icon has changed from the folowing:

to the following:


Apr 29

Getting the most of Windows Phone 8.1 keyboard

If you’re like me, you’re really productive on a standard keyboard.  I average about 120 words per minute, so having to type on a phone keyboard can really grate on my OCD.


The biggest boost to keyboard productivity on Windows Phone 8.1 has to be the ability to swipe.  It’s great for per-word productivity but can’t really know much about the context you’re in.  Some other related tips follow (and, as far as I know, apply to Windows 8.0 too).


Swipe is smart enough to know you’re at the start of a sentence and will capitalize your word for you.  But, when you’re typing proper nouns, swipe won’t have a clue.  But, you don’t have to try to get your cursor between the first and second characters, delete the first character, press shift, then type the first letter again.  You can simply tap the word to select it, then tap the shift button.  Et voila! the word is now capitalized!


In much the same vein as capitalization, swipe doesn’t know much about when you’re using acronyms (AKA words that are all-caps) that are also English (and I assume words in other language dictionaries).  Again, you don’t have to delete the word and double-tap shift and manually type it.  You can do much the same as capitalization except tap shift twice!  The second tap makes the words all caps, no fuss, no muss!

A Quick Number

Did you know if you only need one number that you can tap and old &123 and drag over to the number you want and release.  The number keyboard goes back to QWERTY (or the keyboard you on before) and you can continue typing letters (or emoji, etc…)!

Accented Characters

This isn’t that much of a secret to many, but still pretty handy when you want to type words like cliché or Ångström.  To enter an accented character tap and hold the letter without the diacritical mark (like “A”) the drag your finger over the the accented letter you require.

This same type of action works on the period (“.”) button—tap and hold to get quick access to ‘-‘, ‘!’, ‘?’, ‘,’, and ‘.’.  So, no need to tap &123 to get at ‘?’!

Creative use of the dictionary

I came up with this one long ago, but when I tell people about it they really like the idea.  There’s many words you might type that aren’t in the dictionary (like a username), when you have such a word that you might need to type fairly often, type it in the first time then add it to the dictionary by tapping the word with the plus sign beside it in the word-complete area under the text box.  For example, my domain “peterritchie.com” is used by many a username.  Rather than typing “peterritchie” every time, I simply add it to the dictionary and it will auto-complete at around “pet”—saving me 8 taps!.  As an added benefit in Windows Phone 8.1: the word is now swipeable!