When WP8.1 Developer Preview was released a few weeks back and sites were abuzz with a bunch of new File Manager apps that suddenly had new capabilities, I didn’t pay much attention. File managers on phones were a Windows Mobile thing. Part of the past. I had a chance to poke around the file system with my developer unlocked WP7 HTC Surround, and there wasn’t much to see. But, as they say, “necessity is the mother of invention”.
While at work today, I got the idea to download/purchase a particular song, create a ringtone from that song, and then transfer it to my desktop for distribution. Being at work, I had a few obstacles to hurdle. First, while I have a Windows 8 machine, and it includes the XBox Music app, my work machine uses a different Microsoft Login, and I don’t sync my XBox Music to the work PC. I reserve that limited distribution for my personal PC, notebook and tablet. So I needed to purchase the song through my phone. Second, I only plug my Nokia 1020 into my desktop PC at home for syncing. Don’t want to plug it into another computer and confuse it. So, the challenge was to; download/purchase said song on my phone, create a ringtone from the last bits of the tune, and then transfer the finished product to my office PC. Piece of cake, right?
First step, downloading/purchasing the song went ok. Although I will admit that XBox Music does not make things as easy as they can. First, I thought I downloaded a track to my phone, but actually downloaded an entire album. Finally got to the song I needed and after listening to it, decided to purchase so I could cut it up into a ringtone. Multiple long and short presses later I still couldn’t find the option to buy. Microsoft, take my money pleeeezzzzzeeee. I finally deleted the album/song and started over. After another couple long presses the option to “Buy” finally appeared. Step one, done.
Step two was to use Nokia Ringtone Maker to create a 30-40 second ringtone, using the part of the song I wanted. I haven’t used this app in a long while and my guess is there is something with the WP8.1 Preview that prevented it from working. After several minutes I gave up and went to the Store in search of an alternative. I found it in Ringtone Maker 8.1, which appeared to work just fine for WP8.1, as the name implies. Not as robust as the Nokia offering but it got the job done. I saved and renamed my ringtone when finished. Step two, done.
Step three was going to be the big challenge. How do I transfer a ringtone from my phone to the Cloud en route to my office PC? I started with my WP OneDrive app. There are options to copy/transfer Pictures and Music from your phone to the Cloud, but nothing else. This MP3 file was now a ringtone and did not appear in any of the folders that OneDrive displayed for me. What was I to do. Sure, I could have copied the entire track to my OneDrive, transferred to my office PC, and then created the ringtone all over again. But what fun would that have been. Certainly not worth writing about. Then I remembered those blurbs I had read about WP File Managers. Another quick trip to the Store and the first offering I saw was PocketFile Manager. It had a Trial, with limited capability, but I was on a mission. So I laid down my $1.99 and downloaded the app.
At first I thought I had just gotten screwed out of $1.99 cause the only thing in Local were some flaky sample files. Nothing I knew anything about. Went back to the Store to check the screenshots and reviews to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. There was something about tapping the + icon to “Add provider”. But I didn’t want to link to the Cloud, yet. I wanted to get a damn file off my phone. Then I realized that the first provider was, “Phone Folder”, followed by; OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, Google, Copy & Yandex. Everything after that was easy. Tapping Phone Folder gives you the option to create six different folders; Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos, and of course, RINGTONES! The app also has options to setup an FTP Server, but I haven’t even gotten there yet.
After creating the six Phone folders I checked and sure enough, my new Ringtone was listed with all my others under Ringtones. It had a default name, ringtone.mp3, even though I had renamed it within the Ringtone Maker 8.1 app. But no worries, Pocket File Manager allowed me to rename the file. Once I knew it was there I had to find a way to transfer it. So I created folders for my; Dropbox account, my personal OneDrive account and my office OneDrive. It was nice that I was allowed to easily sync two different OneDrive accounts. Still can’t do that on my Windows 8 machine. After creating all these folders I went back to Ringtones, long pressed my selection and got options to; copy, cut, delete, rename or in phone (play) the file. As I prepared to write this article I realized that swiping to the left gives you a few more options; store, send, by http, share, save to library, save as ringtone, id3 tag and information. I will need to experiment with the rest to see how they all work. Anyway, not knowing any better, I tapped copy, navigated to my office OneDrive folder and dropped the ringtone into Public. Opened the folder on my office desktop and there it was. Success!
Never thought I would have a need for a file manager in WP8.x, but today’s experience changed my tune. Looking into the Documents folder I found three files; xlsx, xps & pdf. Not sure if all these were originally attachments that I had opened on my phone, or they were files I had moved from OneDrive. In any case, they were all accessible, each opening with their respective app. I already have a Dropbox app (more than one actually) on my phone, and as mentioned I can’t see my office OneDrive from my phone. So this app is going to come in handy for accessing files and moving things around when a PC isn’t available. I may actually replace a few other redundant apps.
You can find Ringtone Maker 8.1 here. And PocketFile Manager can be found here.
Oh btw, the song is Every Picture Tells a Story by the immortal Rod Stewart. Our service techs are constantly sending our installers and advanced troubleshooters into a hornets nest, which wastes time and makes us look like idiots when we don’t have the proper materials to do a repair at a customers home. We repeatedly beg for pictures in advance, but seldom see them. Only needed the last 40 seconds of this nearly 6 minute song, but I think I am going to “require” that everyone uses this as their ringtone. A gentle, constant reminder.