While most people use more than one type of device throughout their day, plenty of people spend the bulk of their day staring at a computer screen. While it's fine to pick up your phone and send a message or browse the web, even the best Android phones have a relatively small screen when compared to a PC monitor. It stands to reason, then, that linking your phone and PC together could be a huge boon to productivity and just makes communication and multitasking easier.
That's where the Microsoft Your Phone app comes in. Your Phone helps link your phone and your PC together in a way that helps you keep track of what's happening on your smartphone without having to constantly pick it up. The Microsoft Your Phone app helps link your PC with your Android phone in a way that's similar to how Apple links macOS with iOS, or how Google links Chrome OS with Android.
It helps you read and reply to text messages, view and manage photos on your phone, manage and interact with notifications, make phone calls, and even use Android apps on your PC with certain supported phones. Some phones work better than others, and Samsung smartphone owners will find they get lots of exclusive features that other Android-powered phones don't. Want to get that crick out of your neck from looking down at your phone too much? It's time to use the Microsoft Your Phone app.
Where to get the Microsoft Your Phone app
The Microsoft Your Phone app comes pre-installed on Windows 10 and Windows 11. Just open up your Start Menu and type in Your Phone, then click on the app when it appears in the search box.
In order for Your Phone to work properly, you'll need to also have the app installed on your Android smartphone. This app is 100% free and can be found on the Google Play Store.
The Microsoft Your Phone app does not work well with iPhones or other iOS-based devices at this time. While you can pair your iPhone to your PC via the Your Phone app, there's nothing noteworthy that can be accomplished by doing this.
Getting set up
Microsoft does a great job getting you set up through the Your Phone app on the PC. Upon opening it for the first time, you'll be directed to download the companion app on your Android phone. Each app needs to be set up in order to get your PC and phone linked, but you'll want to start with the Android app first.
Upon first opening the Your Phone companion app on Android, you'll be asked to grant permission for the app to access your text messages, contacts, and photos. The only permission the app doesn't need is location. At the bare minimum, you'll need to grant access to the following permissions:
- Files and Media
Once you've got those set up (just follow the in-app prompts), you can move on with the setup. The Your Phone app uses your phone's camera to link with your PC easily via a QR code. That QR code is generated during the setup of the Your Phone app on your PC and will add your Microsoft account to your smartphone in order to manage all of your data wirelessly.
After pairing via QR code, you'll need to grant permission for the Your Phone app to run in the background on your smartphone. Accept the prompt when it appears. You'll also need to grant notification access to the app, which can be done easily by selecting the "See my notifications" button during the setup of the Your Phone app on PC. If you accidentally skipped through this, just select Notifications on the left-hand menu of the Your Phone app on your PC and follow the instructions.
Additionally, if you're going to be making calls with the Your Phone app via your PC, you'll need to get Bluetooth connectivity set up between your PC and your smartphone. The app on your PC will walk you through this process the first time you select Calls on the left-hand menu of the Your Phone app on your PC. A pop-up on your phone will make it easy for your PC to find your phone and pair with it via Bluetooth.
What can you do with Your Phone?
Any Android-based phone running Android 7.0 or higher will be able to use the Your Phone app and should be able to perform the following functions:
- Receive and manage smartphone notifications on your PC.
- Reply to any app that supports replies via notification.
- Send and receive SMS and MMS text messages.
- Access your contacts.
- Make a phone call from your PC.
- Share content from your phone to your PC via the standard Android share dialog.
- Pause, play, or skip any music playing on your phone.
You may find that certain functions work better with some Android phones compared to others. On my Pixel 4 XL, for instance, I had issues making phone calls on my PC. This is likely to Bluetooth pairing compatibility between my phone and PC. It's possible that other functions of the Microsoft Your Phone app could also be problematic on some PCs or phones.
In order to get the most functionality from the Your Phone app, however, you'll want to be using a Samsung smartphone. Samsung and Microsoft have, historically, had a very good working relationship. This has resulted in several exclusive features only available on Samsung phones, the most of which is being able to run Android apps on your PC vis a vis your Samsung phone. Microsoft and Samsung refer to this enhanced set of features as Link to Windows.
While it's true that you'll be able to use Android apps natively on Windows 11, the Samsung-exclusive version of the Your Phone app actually lets you completely mirror your phone's screen onto your PC. Samsung phone users will also be able to drag files between their smartphone and PC, as well as copy and paste content between these devices.
That means a virtual version of your Samsung phone can be kept in a little window right on your desktop, making it easy as pie to use your phone exactly as you're already used to — just within a window on your PC instead of a physical object in your hands. Microsoft maintains a list of supported Samsung phones which, at this time of writing, includes several dozen models across the spectrum that Samsung manufactures.
Managing notifications on Your Phone
Once you link your phone, there's little doubt that you'll quickly be inundated with lots of notifications that you're not used to receiving on your PC. Many times, these could even be duplicate notifications that your PC already delivers, such as a new email coming into your Gmail account. Thankfully, Microsoft allows you to completely mute notifications from any app installed on your phone and can be done in one of two ways.
The easiest way to mute notifications is by selecting the three dots button any time a nuisance notification appears, then select the option to turn off notifications for that app. This will mute all notifications for that app in the future, keeping you from pulling your hair out.
The second way is to more granularly which apps are allowed to display notifications from the list of apps within the Your Phone app. Since Your Phone has access to all notifications on your smartphone, it can see all the apps that you have installed and help you narrow down which you actually want to see on your PC. To find this list, select Settings on the bottom right of the Your Phone app. From there, select Features, followed by Choose which apps I get notifications from.