Cell-Phone Assistance

Make the most of your cell phone with these handy tweaks.

Browse faster on your Treo

If your Treo's Web connection is as slow as rush-hour traffic, here's one way you can speed things up: Use the fast mode on the browser, which blocks the phone from downloading Web graphics, thereby making pages load more quickly. Treo browsers place their "don't load images" option in various locations. For example, on a Windows Mobile Treo, open the View menu, select Options, and and deselect Show Pictures. Although photos won't appear on the pages automatically, you can see them by selecting their placeholder box on the Web page. If you're looking for a simpler option, sign up for the free Mdog.com information service for mobile browsers. Log on to the site to see mobile-optimized versions of such news and information sites as the New York Times and the Internet Movie Database).

Customize your soft keys

You can change the soft keys and four-way navigation keys on many cell phone handsets to the settings that you use most. On most phones, you reset these features by accessing the device's main settings menu. On the Motorola Razr, for example, select the Menu button, go to Settings, click Personalize, and choose Home Keys. Scroll to the key you want to modify--such as Up, Down, Left Soft Key, or Right Soft Key--and then select the app for the shortcut (you can choose almost any of your phone's programs and features). To modify the shortcut keys for the four-way navigation soft keys on the LG VX8300: Click the OK button (also called the Menu button), scroll to the Settings & Tools tab, and select Phone Settings. Choose Shortcut Key and pick the key (such as Left Key or Up Key) that you want to change. Select the feature you want as a shortcut, and click OK.

Back up your address book

Most big-name wireless carriers offer apps that back up your cell phone's address book. But I found an even better deal: a free Web-based backup service called Zyb that supports a variety of phone models that have a Net connection.

To get Zyb on your phone, you simply create an account at zyb.com. Some phones will automatically sync your contacts to Zyb's secure server, but others, such as Motorola's Razr phones, must have their address books uploaded to the server manually: To do this, open the phone's Settings menu, select Connection, Sync, and enter Zyb's setup details. The company's Web site provides step-by-step instructions based on your phone model.

If your phone is compatible with Zyb's automatic sync, the service sends configuration information to your handset. When you select this option, the company pops up a warning on screen, asking you to verify the phone number you entered (if you type the wrong number, your account details could be accessed by the person whose number you entered). The syncing process can take a while, depending on your connection speed and the number of contacts in your address book. Afterward you can update your contact information on Zyb's site and sync it back to your handset. (For people who use cell phones that Zyb doesn't support, I recommend the free BitPim phone-contacts-backup program at bitpim.org.)

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Grace Aquino

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