How to Customize Windows Phone 8 Start Screen

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Few days back we talked about

customizing Windows Phone 8 lock screen

which included details on how to enable password/lock on the phone, how to choose the pieces of information you wish to see there and more. Well, today we are set to discover the customization options for Start Screen on such devices.

The Windows Phone 8 Start Screen is modern and metro in nature, like on Windows 8. Besides, the live tiles concept is what makes it more interesting. As soon as you reach the Start Screen you have a lot of information like emails and messages sitting there for you. And, do not forget you can pin almost anything on it for quick and speedy access.

What’s changed from WP7? On WP7 the Start Screen real estate was wasted in the sense that an area on the right end of the screen was reserved to let you know that you can swipe the screen. On WP8 it is being used better.

Let us get started with making the screen look like and function as we want.

Note: The Windows Phone 8 device used for this post is Nokia Lumia 920. The steps are same for all WP8 phones.

Changing Theme and Background

The first thing you notice on the Start Screen are tiles and their colors. Interestingly, the colors are not permanent. You can navigate to settings -> theme and choose the color you like.

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Also, you have a choice for a light and a dark background. Note that the theme will reflect not only on the Start Screen but on the entire phone.

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The pictures you see above are on the dark background. Later you will see some on the light background.

Changing Tile Sizes and Positions

On WP8 you can choose among three tile sizes- small, medium and large. To change the size you need to hold a tile and wait for it to change like you see in the image below.

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Then you can tap on the arrow to toggle among available sizes. Once done you can drag and place the tile at an appropriate position.

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Tip: Ideally you should have a large tile for apps which give you some information. I have it set for my calendar and mail app. The ones which do not have any live information like settings, office, internet explorer, etc. can take the smaller icons.

Pinning and Unpinning Apps

When you are resizing or moving an app on the Start Screen you will see a pin like icon on the top right of the tile. Tap on that symbol to unpin the app from the screen.

If you want to pin an app to the screen go to the detailed application list (flick left on the Start Screen). Then hold an app and choose pin to start.

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Customize Email Account Sync

The email accounts show live notifications on the Start Screen tiles. You can change the nature and time period of sync by navigating to settings -> email + account. Then select an account and go to its settings page for the options shown below.

Email Account Settings


There are other things like brightness, touch sensitivity and contrast. But these are generic to the entire phone.


These are few ways to optimize the Start Screen and make it match you comfort zone. During the course of time users may discover more such customization methods. Do you think this is a better utilization of the screen real estate than it is on iOS and Android?

Last updated on 02 February, 2022

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