Apple users are quick to brag about how seamlessly their iPhone, iPad and Mac all work together. And for the longest time, they’ve admittedly had bragging rights. But Microsoft’s Your Phone app on Windows 10 ($158 at Amazon) is quickly catching up and, in some ways, surpassing Apple.
Google has tried filling the gap with Messages for Web, giving Android owners the ability to send and receive text messages from any computer. But that’s where the service stops.
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If you want to view notifications, make phone calls or even access your camera roll, well, you’ll have to turn to an app from Microsoft called Your Phone. Below, I’ll walk you through getting it set up and explain what each tab in the app allows you to do. If you’re using a newer Samsung Galaxy phone, like the Note 20 Ultra, you can even run Android apps on your computer — it’s pretty cool.
Overall, it’s pretty great, and something I’ve been using for the past week. After my time using it, one thing is clear: Google’s Messages option is good but has nothing on the total package that Microsoft has built into Windows 10.
Set up the Your Phone app on your PC and Android device
The Your Phone app is already installed on your computer, as long as you have the Windows 10 October 2018 Update installed. It’s not a bad idea to make sure your PC is running the latest version of Windows by clicking Start > Settings > Update & Security > Check for updates and installing any pending updates.
Open the Your Phone app on your PC and sign in to your Microsoft account.
Your Android phone will need to be on Android 7.0 or later, which if your phone was made in the last few years, you should be good to go. You can double-check which version of Android it’s running in the Settings app, typically under System or About phone.
Open the browser on your Android phone and enter www.aka.ms/yourpc into the address bar. Your phone will then take you to either the Your Phone app listing in the Play Store, or if you have a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone, you’ll be taken to the Link to Windows app in the Play Store.
Download and install the app, then sign into it using the same Microsoft account linked to your Windows 10 computer.
Follow the prompts in the Your Phone app on your computer and on your phone itself. There will be a series of permissions you’ll need to approve, ranging from access to notifications to giving Your Phone access to your text messages and phone calls.
Once the app is installed, you’re signed in and all permissions are approved, you’re ready to completely control your phone from your computer.
Triage your Android notifications
Instead of glancing over at your phone to see if you have any new notifications, use the Notifications tab to triage alerts on your phone. The first time you open the tab you’ll need to go through some extra setup, but as long as you follow the prompts on your computer and your phone, it’s a breeze.
You can control which app notifications are allowed to show up on your computer, and which will stay on your phone in the Settings panel of the app on your computer.
Keep that text conversation going
By far my favorite feature of using Your Phone is the ability to send and receive text messages on my computer. It works similarly to Google’s Messages for Web, but instead of having to use a website, you access your messages directly in the Your Phone app.
You’ll receive notifications for new messages, complete with a text field for quick replies, and you have the option to send GIFs and photos and videos, whether they come from your phone or your computer.
You can even view any photos that someone sends to you, but you’ll have to use your phone to view videos.
The best part? It doesn’t matter which text messaging app you use on your Android phone. Google Messages for Web requires you to use that specific app, but Your Phone will work no matter what.
So far, I’ve come across two potential drawbacks. If you do use Google’s Messages app, any archived conversations still show up in the Your Phone app as an active conversation. And, randomly, my phone and PC will get out of sync, causing messages not to show up on my computer. However, clicking the Refresh button at the top of the screen usually remedies that.
Access your photos and screenshots
Select the Photos tab to view the photos and screenshots stored on your phone. You can drag and drop anything from this tab to your computer’s desktop, or open it in another app on your computer.
Your phone limits what it shows to the last 2,000 items, but that should be more than enough for most instances. If you recently took a photo or screenshot and it’s not showing up, click the refresh button at the top of the window.
Make, receive phone calls
Instead of picking up your phone to place or answer a call, use your PC. Before you can place or receive a call, click the phone tab in the Your Phone app on your computer, and follow the prompts. You’ll need to have Bluetooth enabled on both your phone and computer for phone calls to work, as well.
Once the extra setup is done, any incoming calls will show up as notifications on your computer. Likewise, you can place a call by dialing a number or picking from your contacts in the phone tab.
Run Android apps on Windows 10
Arguably the biggest advantage of using Your Phone is that you can use apps installed on your Android phone, directly on your computer. So if you want to obsessively scroll through TikTok, or access an app to control your lights, you won’t have to pick up your phone.
For those with a Samsung Galaxy phone, you can access your Android apps by clicking on the App tab in the Your Phone app on your computer. For more information about the feature, make sure to check out our complete guide to using Your Phone to run Android apps on your PC.
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Adjust your settings as needed
Finally, click around the Settings tab. There you’ll find options to control which app notifications show up on your computer, turn photo access on or off, disable phone calls if it’s just too much for you, as well as control when notifications are marked as read.
If you’re using a Samsung phone, you’ll also have the option to allow copying and pasting of information between your phone and computer.
Now that you have complete control over your Android phone on your Windows 10 PC, take a few minutes to fine-tune your computer to ensure it’s running smoothly. We also have some tips and tricks for Windows 10 that are worth checking out. And be sure to check out our top features of Android 11, the next big update from Google.