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Setting Up Your Pocket PC

Setting Up Your Pocket PC

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  • Personalizing Your Pocket PC
  • Customizing Pocket PC Menus
  • Extending the Backlight and Power
  • Synchronizing and Exploring with ActiveSync
  • Decorating Your Pocket PC with Custom Graphics

If you're like me, it's hard to be patient and learn how to use a new gadget when you first get it. I want to immediately turn it on and begin tinkering. If you're not a tinkerer, that's okay, too. Fortunately, this chapter is for both tinkerers and the tinkering impaired because it addresses the basics of setting up a Pocket PC, along with some interesting customizations that you won't find in the manual that came with the device. You can think of this chapter as an insider's look at how to set up and tweak your Pocket PC so that it's perfectly tailored to you.

If you're already an avid Pocket PC user and are long past the setup phase, you'll find some interesting pieces of information in this chapter. For example, you might not have known that it's possible to customize the graphics on the Today screen to suit your own tastes.

Personalizing Your Pocket PC

The first step in setting up a Pocket PC is to personalize it by telling it who you are and what time zone you live in. Before you can begin personalizing your device, however, you must take care of a small bit of technical housekeeping. When your Pocket PC first powers up out of the box, it guides you through aligning the screen. This is necessary to properly align the screen within the device's display. You perform the screen alignment by tapping the stylus on a series of crosshairs as they appear on the screen.

Watch Out!

Make sure the time zone is set properly on your desktop computer or you will find that your Pocket PC's clock will get reset each time you synchronize.

After aligning the screen, you are prompted to enter your city and time zone. This information is important to keep the system clock running properly. Keep in mind that the system clock is used to schedule appointments and meetings, which is why accuracy is a must. Speaking of the system clock, you'll probably have to set it unless your device magically has the correct date and time already set when you get it. Following are the steps required to set the date and time on your device:

  1. Go to the Today screen (tap Start, and then tap Today).
  2. Tap the date just below the time in the upper-right corner, which brings up the Clock Settings page.
  3. Use the arrows to set the correct date and time.
  4. Tap OK in the upper-right corner, and then tap Yes to save changes to the clock settings.


The process of aligning the screen and establishing the city/time zone, as well as personalizing your device, must also be repeated when you perform a hard reset of the device.

With the date and time set, you are ready to enter owner information, which is very important should you ever misplace the device. The following steps guide you through entering owner information:

  1. Go to the Today screen.
  2. Tap the Owner band just below the Today graphic.
  3. Fill in the text fields with your name, company, street address, telephone number, and email address. The Soft Input Panel (virtual keyboard) automatically appears when you tap one of the text fields.
  4. Check the check box below the text fields if you want the device to display owner information on a Power-On screen when it is first turned on. The idea is that someone would immediately know to whom a lost device belongs when it's first turned on. This option is a necessity if you plan on setting a password on the device (covered in the next section).
  5. Tap the Notes tab at the bottom of the screen if you want to add any notes about yourself. The check box on the Notes page allows you to designate that the notes are displayed when the device is first turned on.
  6. Tap OK in the upper-right corner to accept the owner information.

Watch Out!

If you plan on setting a password for your Pocket PC, be sure to check the check box on the Owner Information screen that displays owner information when the device is turned on. If you don't, if the device is lost, the person who finds it won't be able to get past the password screen to find out who owns the device.

Now that your Pocket PC knows your name, it's time for you to give your device a name of its own. Naming your device is important because this name is used to identify the device when you synchronize with a desktop computer. It is more difficult to alter the name after you've set up the ActiveSync synchronization software, so I encourage you to do it now. The device name also comes into play if you perform a hard reset after having set up the device for synchronization; you'll need to restore the original device name in order to synchronize and restore the device from a backup.

  1. Tap Start, and then tap Settings.
  2. Tap the System tab, and then tap the About icon.
  3. Tap the Device ID tab.
  4. Enter a name for the device (no spaces), along with a device description.
  5. Tap OK in the upper-right corner to accept the device name and description.


The Pocket PC device name must start with a letter and consist of the letters A-Z and numbers 0-9. Underscores are also allowed, and can be used instead of spaces if you want to separate words.

Your Pocket PC is now personalized in terms of knowing who you are and having a name for itself. Now, you must consider whether you need to protect information on the device from the prying eyes of others.

Password Protecting the Device

The Pocket PC operating system allows you to set a system password that is requested each time the device is turned on. If the password is entered incorrectly, the device won't let you get past the password-entry screen. Setting a password is a personal preference, and has a lot to do with how you plan to use your Pocket PC. If you will store sensitive information such as credit card numbers or business information that could be detrimental in the wrong hands, then a password is a necessity. You also might want to set a password if you plan on using Pocket Money, because your personal finance information should be protected.


If you decide to password protect your Pocket PC, be sure to set the device so it displays owner information when turned on.

The Pocket PC password is actually more of a PIN number. It's a four-digit number that you must enter by tapping on numeric keys on the screen, much like you would enter your PIN number for a bank account at an ATM. To set a password and password protect your device, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Start, and then tap Settings.
  2. Tap the Password icon (this icon is labeled "HP security" on the HP Jornada series of Pocket PCs).
  3. Enter a four-digit password by tapping the numeric keys on the screen. Be sure to select a password that you won't forget.
  4. Tap OK in the upper-right corner, and then tap Yes to save the password settings.

Watch Out!

Be sure to select a password that you won't forget. If you should forget your password, the only way to get back into your Pocket PC is to perform a hard reset, which blitzes the device memory. If you're like me and still run the risk of forgetting the password, just be sure to back up your device regularly. Then, if you ever have to perform a hard reset, you can still restore everything. For more information on how to perform a hard reset for your particular device, refer to Appendix C, "Resetting Your Pocket PC," or check the manuals that came with your device.

Now that your Pocket PC is safe and secure, the next step is to do some tweaking to the Start menu to tailor things a little more to your liking.

Customizing the Start Menu

The Start menu is the anchor of the Pocket PC user interface, and is typically used a great deal to launch applications or open folders. In fact, the Start menu allows you to be only two taps away from any application or folder. Therefore, it is important that it contain exactly the applications and folders you plan to use regularly, and nothing more. Fortunately, it's easy to customize the Start menu. The following steps explain how:

  1. Tap Start, and then tap Settings.
  2. Tap the Menus icon.
  3. Check and uncheck appropriate applications and folders to customize the contents of the Start menu (Figure 3.1).
  4. Tap OK in the upper-right corner to accept the Start menu changes.

Figure 3.1 Customizing the Start menu is as simple as checking and unchecking the applications that you'd like to appear in the menu.

The first item displayed in the Start menu is a series of icons that indicate the last six applications you've used. This is intended to provide a quick means of accessing recently used applications; tap an icon to launch the given application.

Watch Out!

The Start menu is capable of holding only eight applications/folders and still fit on the screen. If you check more than eight applications/folders you'll have to scroll down in the Start menu to access some of the menu items.

Customizing the New Menu

Another important part of the Pocket PC user interface is the New menu, which is located in the lower-left corner of the screen, that provides a convenient place to create new documents. Following are the types of documents that can be created with the New menu, along with the applications used to modify them:

  • Appointments, Calendar
  • Tasks, Tasks
  • Contacts, Contacts
  • Notes, Notes
  • Email messages, Inbox
  • Excel workbooks, Pocket Excel
  • Word documents, Pocket Word

The New menu helps add a document-centric feel to Pocket PCs, which means that you think in terms of documents rather than applications. As an example, the New menu allows you to focus on creating a spreadsheet or email message, as opposed to focusing on running Pocket Excel or Inbox. The shift from applications to documents is subtle, but has been taking place in the desktop Windows environment for the past several years.

The New menu can be customized, in which case you specify which types of documents you want to be able to create via the menu. The other customization available with the New menu is enabling the New menu button, which is a small up arrow that appears next to the New menu. On the Today screen, the button doesn't add any functionality, but within an application, the button allows you to create new documents of any of the previous types listed. Without having the button enabled, which is the default setting, you can use the New button only to create new documents of the same type as the application you are using. Of course, you always have full access to creating different document types via the New menu when you are on the Today screen.

To customize the New menu, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Start, and then tap Settings.
  2. Tap the Menus icon, and then tap the New Menu tab.
  3. Check the check box above the document types to turn on the New menu button.
  4. Check and uncheck appropriate document types to customize the contents of the New menu.
  5. Tap OK in the upper-right corner to accept the New menu changes.

Your New button is now customized and ready to help you create new documents with ease. Let's now turn our attention to the backlight that many find annoying because it seems to be constantly dimming itself.

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