Troubleshooting connection problems with the Windows 10 Your Phone app may require a check and recheck of the Shared Experiences system configuration settings. Here’s how.
Not too long ago, TechRepublic published my article explaining how to use the Your Phone app in Windows 10 to connect an Android smartphone. I am happy to say that setup worked out well for my overall productivity these past few months. That is, until it stopped working in early December. I cannot be certain, but I believe the December security patch disabled my Your Phone connection. Fortunately, there was an easy fix.
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At the most basic system level, the Windows 10 Your Phone app operates as part of the Shared Experiences feature of the operating system. As such, it is subject to the configuration settings of those features. For unknown, undisclosed, and unconfirmed reasons, it appears some of those settings were changed by the Windows 10 December security patch, which we now have to reset.
How to fix the Your Phone app by fixing Shared Experiences
The Your Phone app in Windows 10 is particularly useful for people like me who are proficient at responding quickly and accurately to messages and emails with a physical QWERTY keyboard. Proficiency with the keypad found on a typical smartphone would more accurately be described as clumsy and frustrating. So, you can understand my distress when the Your Phone connection to my Android smartphone was mysteriously disabled.
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My troubleshooting investigation led to System Settings and the Shared Experiences feature.
Click the Start Menu button, select Settings from the menu (gear icon), and then select the System link. Scroll down the left-hand navigation bar and select the Shared Experiences tab to reach the screen shown in Figure A.
As you scroll down the right-hand windowpane with the various configuration settings, pay attention the two toggle buttons. The first is labeled Nearby Sharing. That toggle should be in the “On” position. The dropdown box in this section will allow you to share content with any nearby device through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth or restrict content sharing to just your devices.
The next toggle button, shown in Figure B, is labeled Share Across Devices. This is the toggle that was mysteriously changed—it should be in the “On” position if you want to take advantage of the Windows 10 Your Phone app.
As with the other configuration setting, you can choose to share with any other device or just with your devices. For the sake of security, you probably should limit access to your devices unless you have a specific reason to allow additional connections.
Shared experiences, and by extension the Your Phone app, are dependent on having an active Microsoft account. And, by active, we mean you are logged into that Microsoft account and remain logged in.
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Your Phone and Shared Experiences troubleshooting
Even after troubleshooting the loss of the Windows 10 Your Phone app through the Shared Experiences configuration settings, I have noticed more than a few occasions where my Android phone failed to connect to my PC. There were no warnings and no error messages, just an app and a smartphone not communicating with each other.
On each of these occasions, a visit to the Shared experiences configuration settings and a toggle off and then on of the Share Across Devices button was sufficient to reestablish the connection. So, while I enjoy the benefits of the Windows Your Phone app on a daily basis, I must concede it is a flaky application in need of some fine tuning by Microsoft.