Tweaking Tracfone’s Moto w370

Tracfone is America’s largest prepay-only wireless provider. They have good service and great rates for people like me that only talk around 30 minutes a month. Unfortunately, the phones they sell are a bit dated and decidedly low-tech. Their new Motorola w370 looks and feels an awful lot like the RAZR, but unfortunately, it’s crippled in a lot of ways. For example, the box advertises (heh – almost screams about) customizable wallpaper and MP3 ringtones. But, like all things in life, there’s a catch. Although the w370 has a mini-USB port, the phone’s locked, and the USB port doesn’t work. So to the Average Joe, the only way to get customized ringtones or wallpapers is to buy them through Tracfone’s website. The manual even says that explicitly: “Want cool wallpapers and ringtones? Go to Tracfone.com today!” Now, nothing I’m about to tell you is “illegal” or “immoral”… But it’s information that Tracfone usually isn’t very willing to give.

First of all, add the following addresses to your email address book:

myphonenumber@mms.att.net
myphonenumber@txt.att.net

where “myphonenumber” is your full 10-digit Tracfone number. We’ll need these addresses in a minute.

Creating and Installing Wallpapers

Open up your favorite photo editor and create a wallpaper of your choice. The file should be a JPEG or GIF, 128×160 pixels in size. You can also simply resize an existing photograph, but I prefer using Photoshop, as this lets me customize the scale of the photograph to the correct proportions. In any case, take care to make the file size as small as possible – my phone only has 500kb of storage space on the SIM card, so one 400KB picture would almost fill the entire card. I like using Photoshop’s “Save for web” feature, as this seems to consistently create the smallest possible file size at the best possible quality… but that’s just me.

Anyway, once you have your wallpaper just the way you like it, save it and email the picture as an attachment to the myphonenumber@mms.att.net address (making sure to substitute your 10-digit Tracfone number for “myphonenumber, of course). In around 30 seconds, you should get a new message on your phone. Click Details > Downld > “Waiting for download” will appear on the screen, then will change to “1 New Msg Downloaded”. Click “Read” then press the button in the center of the 4-way directional button and click “Save Content”. You will be prompted for a filename, enter it, and press the “OK” softkey. Your wallpaper is now saved to your SIM card!

To use it as a wallpaper, go to the main screen and choose Multimedia > Pictures > Additional Storage Device. You’ll then see a list of the picture(s) you’ve sent yourself. Select any one of them, then press the the button in the center of the 4-way directional button and select “Apply as” > Wallpaper. You can then press the “End” button to return to the home screen and see your new wallpaper in action!

Installing ringtones

UPDATE (01/07/2008): jimcofer.com reader Art contacted me via Yahoo! Messenger today to say that AT&T (Tracfone’s MMS provider) has recently started blocking MIDI attachments to MMS messages. This means that the procedure below won’t work – at least temporarily. I’ve already started looking into work-arounds, but nothing is looking promising at the moment. I’ll keep you folks posted with updates as I get them!

First, the bad news: you can install ringtones using the same email method as above… but you can only email MIDI files. For some reason, AT&T strips MP3 attachments to messages (probably as a way to get you to buy ringtones instead of making them yourself). Of course, since the phone only has 500KB worth of storage space, using MP3s as a ringtone is really a non-starter anyway.

But you can, in fact, send a MIDI file attached to an email to the myphonenumber@mms.att.net address and use the file as a ringtone. Follow the same procedure as above to save the file to the SIM card. Then click Multimedia > Sounds > Additional Storage Device and select a MIDI file. Then press the center button on the 4-way pad and choose “Apply as Ring Tone” then “Line 1”. Presto! You’ve just saved yourself a couple of bucks by emailing yourself a crappy MIDI file!

SMS Messages Via Email

The second address at the start of the article – myphonenumber@txt.att.net – allows you to get text messages which are sent via email. Maybe your girlfriend sends you text messages from the office and would prefer typing up a short message in Outlook instead of pecking away at her phone’s keypad. Maybe you need to have your company’s servers send you a text message when something goes wrong. Whatever the reason, if you want someone to be able to email you a text message, the @txt.att.net address is the way to go.

Recharging via USB Cable

If you have a spare mini-USB cable sitting around – and they come with most digital cameras and external hard drives these days – you can try hooking the phone up to a powered USB port on your computer. Windows won’t find a driver, and the phone won’t install or do anything interesting on your computer… but you can use the USB connection to recharge the phone. Just make sure that you’re using a powered USB port (or hub) – you should see the recharging light on the front of the phone. If not, it’s not a powered port.

A Call To Hackers

I’ll admit that this isn’t much of a “tweaking guide”. You probably have hoped for something a little slicker, like how to unlock the phone, reflash the firmware, or maybe even connect it to a USB port and do something interesting with it in Windows. Alas, you won’t find that here.

However, if you do know a trick or two that I’ve missed, please consider sharing your knowledge with me via the Contact Me page. I’m dying to figure out how to get this thing to pull addresses from Outlook!

58 Replies to “Tweaking Tracfone’s Moto w370”

  1. My Motorola Tracfone will not charge off my computer. The light comes on and the the message on the phone is “unable to charge”

  2. Thank you for taking the time to write this great info for those of us who are lost in the cell phone maze,Lol. Just a couple of questions if you don’t mind…..
    myphonenumber@mms.att.net is this the email addy I can use all the time on my W370 and give to family and friends? If someone wants to send me a picture do they need to use myphonenumber@txt.att.net for my email addy? Just a little confused, Thanks, Mike

  3. Well, it’s been a while since I wrote this, and AT&T have apparently changed some things, but generally the addresses you want to use are:

    @txt.att.net is for text messages
    @mms.att.net is for picture messages

    Last I heard, AT&T had “changed their policy” and was blocking ALL music related attachments (not just MP3s, but MIDI attachments as well). They were also resizing pictures from their original size to something tiny (and thus, unusable for wallpaper).

    When I get some spare time I’ll look into this and update the original article.

  4. Thanks Jim, Sure hope that’s not the case. I really get tired of these companies advertising one thing and then doing another. Maybe some day some attorney will have a class action lawsuit against these companies for false advertisement or fraud. Mike

  5. Well, the thing is, no one can say for certain WHO is behind all this. As you probably know, Tracfone doesn’t own any of their own cell towers… they simply buy cellular time from AT&T and resell it (at a profit) to users like us.

    Tracfone COULD BE behind this decision, or it might be something that AT&T decided to do, and that Tracfone really can’t help. Or (more likely), AT&T did this on their own, and Tracfone (wanting to sell us ringtones and wallpapers) went along with it.

  6. hey um i tried you picture thing and it worked wonderfully i recieved my picture but when i push the center button it does not give me the option of “save content” and my phone is a W370 it gives me the option of storing the number and even the email but no where does it say save content can you help me

  7. When viewing the picture you just downloaded, press the center button. Your initial options will be

    DELETE
    CALL BACK
    REPLY
    FORWARD
    CHAT
    LOCK

    Press the down button and you’ll see the following additional options:

    STORE NUMBER
    SAVE CONTENT
    EXTRACT EMAIL
    CLEANUP MESSAGES
    CREATE MESSAGE
    SETUP

    Scroll down to SAVE CONTENT and save the picture. To use it as a wallpaper, go to the main menu and select MULTIMEDIA > PICTURES > ADDITIONAL STORAGE DEVICE > [picture name] > VIEW then press the center button and choose APPLY AS > WALLPAPER.

    I checked this feature this afternoon. I sent a message to 704XXXXXXX@mms.att.net (where 704XXXXXXX is my actual phone number) and, following the above steps, was able to apply a picture of Katee Sackoff as a wallpaper.

  8. I find that my tracfone w370 will not charge from my XP computer unless the phone is first turned off. Then it seems to charge fine. Oddly enough if I connect it to one of the USB ports on my Buffalo TeraSTation(NAS device) it charges fine on or off.

  9. Ah yes! That’s right. I remember that I was able to charge the phone off my computer at one point (I thought that Tracfone might have disabled this via firmware update or something).

    You are correct: it *does* charge off USB with the phone off.

  10. I just got a w370, and my menu is slightly different. Where yours says “SAVE CONTENT”, mine says “Save to SIM”, or if I’ve already done that then it says “Save to phone”. I’m not sure what the difference is – that is, I know the difference between SIM & phone but I don’t understand the significance of choosing one over the other.

    In any case the attached jpgs (and gifs) that I’ve been sending myself don’t seem to appear anywhere in the phone multimedia menus. So either they aren’t getting to the phone (although the email they’re attached to arrives ok) or I just don’t know where to look.

  11. Thanks so much for posting this. I was at a loss, and it worked perfectly for me. I now have my own picture for my wallpaper.

  12. Whats the sense though. You have the date stuck right smack dab in the middle with no way to get it off. On my old V170 You could at least scroll a few blank lines on the banner setting to hide it but not on this one.It’s a nice phone but it’s always something.

  13. i had the moto e815 when i had verizon. my geek buddy was able to hack the seem and the phone did wonders; loved it!!

    now i have tracfone W370. anyway to hack this?

    also, i have tried sending pics using ‘mynumber@mms.att.net’ but it doesn’t work. the jpg i tried to attach was 44.9kb, and i tried again, a jpg at 40.8kb.

    any answers/hints/solutions?
    thanks,
    cindy

  14. I did a lot of research on this matter. I did stumble upon an interesting site that stated:

    TracFone must give you the unlock code for the USB per a lawsuit. There was a link to the PDF of that case. You must call them and go thru the run around as I’m sure they will, but state if they dont want to go to court AGAIN that they must give you the code. Other than that, I dont have any other suggestions. I just emailed myself some wallpaper, but per the update, looks that the ringtones will stay the same till I do what I just posted. G/L to you all and power to the people.

  15. If you want to download midi ringtones and pictures there is a great website that is completely free (no stupid fees or hidden service contracts). You can even upload your own pictures and midi ringtones to send to your phone. This service works with tracfone with no problems. Unfortunately you still cannot download realtones(mp3’s) to your phone. the service is completely free including the process of sending the content to your phone. You only pay the units needed to download the info. It costs on average 1 to 2 units depending on the size of the file. To download you only need to sign up with the info about your phone. You will find the things you downloaded after you press “Save content” in the additional storage section of your phone. The website is http://www.crostel.com.

  16. I will have to do some digging, Jim. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for answers to this several months ago. If I find it, I will post it.

  17. Good luck with that phantom lawsuit requiring them to let you unlock USB. The only tracfone unlocking lawsuits I can find all revolve around them successfully suing resellers who sold unlocked tracfones – NOT anyone successfully suing TracFone.
    Post the court decision and I will happily eat crow, but otherwise I believe you are on crack sir.

  18. Here’s a Yahoo! News article about TracFone’s round of lawsuits against companies that are buying TracFone phones in bulk (like, 10,000 at a time) and unlocking them and shipping them overseas:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080713/ap_on_bi_ge/cell_phone_trafficking

    These people are costing TracFone a fortune, since they sell the phones at a loss and expect to make it up by selling airtime. These companies are buying thousands of phones at a time, wipe them, then sell ’em overseas for $40 more than they paid for it here.

    It’s one thing to unlock phones for customers, but another thing altogether when flipping phones overseas is your business model.

  19. Well I have sent many pictures to my w370 phone, and has worked in the past. But now I have tried to over 10 times and the phone says “Not the right format” also I can still see the picture, the phone will not let me save it at all? Anyone else having such problems? Picture was a JPEG & GIF both under 10kb each? Before I was able to send 10 to 15 pictures at a time, and no problems? Has Tracfone changed something as of late?

    PulseDragon

  20. Thanks for the feedback Jay, I was starting to thank I was going crazy. I spent over 20 minutes of my phone time doing tests! oh and yeah…Bummer! 🙁 I guess I will have to send the pic to my wifes phone and have her send it to me? Phone to phone still seems to work. Thanks again.

    PulseDragon

  21. Thanks for the info on how to email/text to my W370. I am able to receive the emails that are .txt but when I try the other email w/a photo attached I NEVER receive it. Any ideas on what Im doing wrong? I know, you can’t fix stupid but Im trying here, ok?? 😉

    thanks again-
    Brandy

  22. I’m using Tracfone with a Moto c261, and the outcome seems to be highly dependent on the file size. I successfully sent a small jpg image from my PC for my Moto wallpaper (48×48 pixel, 4KB). Then I sent a triple-sized version of the same image (144×144 pixel, 12KB) and it was never delivered to the phone. Then I sent an intermediate size (120×120, 10KB) and it worked again. It could be just flaky, of course — but maybe the key is to keep it under the 128×160 size that Jim mentioned above? After a couple more experiments, I finally settled on 96×96 to avoid too much interference with the screen display.

  23. hi-
    For some reason I just got the email TODAY! It worked just fine. Who knows why it took so long, thanks for the great instructions! Now-is there anyway to make the ‘add airtime by xxx’ go away from the main screen??

  24. Ah… the old “wait 2 days to deliver it” trick! I have a friend who has a phone with (I think) Verizon, and she gets our text messages in either a) 30 seconds; b) 2 days; or c) 3 months. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to it.

    On my 370, I just click the center button and choose Prepaid > Airtime Display and turn both the “Units Display” and “Due Date” to OFF. As far as I know, there’s no way to turn off the date or time, however.

  25. Tracfone may not be responsible for stripping MMS attachments to try and force people to buy ringtones from a “blessed” source, but they’re definitely responsible for shipping phones with broken USB ports. That is the reason I do not use Tracfone today.

  26. I just got a w376 on Monday and I was wondering if you are able to send an mms message to your phone with a midi file attached yet. Thanks.

  27. I was given a Motorola razr (formerly through cingular service but now not used) It is possible to take the SIM card from my Tracfone w370 and instert it into the Razr turning it into a tracfone?

    Have no idea if this is possible-can’t hurt to ask, right?

  28. I don’t think so. I upgraded by phone to the w370 from whatever Tracfone’s “base model” was a year or two ago. In order to transfer my minutes and number, I had to call TF and re-program the new SIM card over the air.

    I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure you just can’t swap SIM cards.

  29. Regarding the unlocking issue, you can find some info at http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061124-8280.html.

    The newest list of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is out, and the Register of Copyrights is recommending six exemptions this time around. If you’ve been hankering for the legal authority to remove Sony’s rootkit or to unlock your cell phone, then this will be big news. If you were hoping for the ability to make backup copies of your legally purchased DVDs, you’re (still) out of luck.

    The PDF of the Copyright Offices can be found at http://www.copyright.gov/1201/docs/1201_recommendation.pdf.

    I always say that anything that can be locked can be unlocked. Otherwise, those third party companies that unlocked and shipped them wouldn’t have been able to do it in the first place…

  30. hello and nice board i have been able to send the pictures to my w 370 and save them but no matter the size they come in about half the size i need are they changing them over first anyway around this i doubt it but thanks…

  31. I don’t think it’s right for people to try unlock their phones to use services that they haven’t paid for. I’m sure you feel cheated when someone does something dishonest to you but somehow you don’t think it’s cheating or stealing when you do it to a big cell phone company? I don’t work for any of the cell phone company’s but I’m a little sad to read how low Americans are going. I have a cheap Tracfone and I’m happy with it, if I wanted Bluetooth it would be better for me to go and buy a phone that had Bluetooth enabled!

  32. Wow… you *sure* you don’t work for Tracfone? You certainly sound like a shill… And frankly, I don’t even understand why you posted what you did. These people aren’t stealing anything from Tracfone; they’re just trying to enable features that Tracfone disabled.

    When Gpc says he wants to “unlock” the Bluetooth on the w376g, what he means is that the phone will only work with Bluetooth headsets. Most every other Bluetooth phone I know of can also connect to a desktop computer, so that you can move files back and forth between the phone and a PC. Tracfone purposely disabled this feature on his phone. Why? So that maybe he’ll be forced to use MMS to send the pictures to an email account. Which costs money (minutes). However, Tracfone can’t be opposed to the IDEA of connecting one of their phones to a PC, because the Tracfone LG 600 *can* connect to a PC, and you can copy pictures (or ringtones) from a phone to a PC that way. It’s the same thing with USB, albeit a different technology.

    I’m sad that you’re sad about “how low Americans are going”. But hacking hardware is nothing new, my friend. The iconic image of 1950s teenagers hotrodding a car is no different than what these people are doing. Even with computer\electronic hardware, hacking has been around for ages. Search for “Cap’n Crunch” or “blue box” some time.

    Gpc: I haven’t heard anything about it, but since the W376g is based on the W370, I doubt anything has changed. I’m (hopefully!!!!) getting a LG 600 for Christmas, but the W376g is also on my list (if my family can’t find the LG), so I might know something in a couple of weeks.

  33. the picture worked great one time doing it your way now i get message that says one or more of the mesages components have been deleted by mms adaption.either any help for this or did some one catch on also if i pree go to url it has taglinein front of emial site what gives

  34. I just purchased a Motorola Tracfone model 376g.
    Is there anyway to retrieve pictures I stored on the
    phone and put them into my laptop (vista) without
    having to use up my minutes? I have been able
    to simply take a picture with my camera OF THE
    PICTURE ON MY TRACFONE, but this is tedious…
    I am a “beginner” on computers and cell phones………………..Dan Smith

  35. REF: Harding Says:
    December 12th, 2008 at 6:01

    I don’t think it’s right for people to try unlock their phones to use services that they haven’t paid for.

    Wow. Now I know I only paid $15 through a promotion for the phone (W370), but I *paid* for it. i expected to be able to use the USB port! It will charge OK, but we use it for the band and wanted to upload one of our songs for the ringtone. One of our songs. That we wrote, produced ourselves, and recorded.
    I can understand TF not wanting hacked phones all over the place, but this hobbles legit users as well.

  36. Daniel,

    There is a way, I think, of sending the pictures you have taken to your self. However, it will cost units. First, locate your saved pictures in your downloaded pictures menu, probably under additional storage. When you have found your picture, press the round button in the middle to bring up a menu, and select “Send In Message.” Then, enter YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS in the area you would put a phone number.

    Then, retrieve the picture from your regular email application.

    Hope this helps.

  37. I am still looking for answers on ways around to get my own mp3s on my W376g. We paid for it when we bought the phone. Its like buying a GE fridge with an ice maker but your not allowed to use it. You have buy the bag of ice directly from GE and then put in your freezer. I know ringtones aren’t that big of a deal— but it is in principal. ANY suggestions will help us all.

  38. I have a w370 — I love the phone, small, battery lasts better than expected. Unfortunately I’ve tried all the steps; and can’t get it to charge, but mostly i want to be able to backup my info (#’s etc) via the usb cable. I’ve tried all the drivers & am considering using something to reflash the phone back to original OEM specs — anyone know if it will still work with tracfone?

  39. Chel was right about the text msging a picture to your email address, it worked beautifuly for me! Thank you sooo much for the advice, it will save me money now that I don’t need to use the web browser and waist precious minutes 🙂

  40. Today I just got a refurbished w370 and did what he said

    the pic sent and that worked
    the midi file i send worked
    the mp3 did not work
    but I am still happy that i can do something with my new phone

    thank you your blog has been a lot of help

  41. Really appreciate the infomation here. Received my w370 as a replacement for a c139. Using my phone#@mms.att.net I’ve already sent myself several wallpapers and midi ringtones, and each cost just 1.5 units.

    And… guess what? You can actually send yourself several midi ringtones, each as an individual attachment, and you’ll only be charged the 1.5 unit that the single mms message cost. Very, very cool. Once the message reaches your phone, you’ll be able to save each attachment as an individual sound file.

  42. just an FYI…

    Yes, sending multiple images in a single mms message works as well. So, for the 1.5 units it costs to send a single mms message, you can receive and install several *.jpg wallpapers or *.mid ringtones…

  43. When someone sends me a pic from “their” phone…..I receive a 32K file, my minutes are deducted,….but I only see a red “x” and no picture. I’ve searched and searched to find an answer but can’t determine the problem. Is it “fixable” or is this just a problem with TracFone……?

    Thanks,
    Nick

  44. Thanks man, wallpaper worked fine. USB charging works good too, off and on a hub.

    The thing that pisses me off most is when i bought this model it has a huge boasting sticker on the front, “USB/Bluetooth enabled phone!”. Yeah maybe for headsets, but i dont need it for a headset. Neither lets me transfer files which is why i got it and not a different one. I think it is false advertising.

    I have a RAZR and had to seem hack it to use it with MP3s, file xfer, and charging– but at least it was hackable.

    The main reason I did it was I use the ringtone from the movie CRANK (phone sounds like its going dead on ring). Anyone know a good midi replacement for that since nobody has figured out a way to get mp3’s onto this model? Thanks.

    Oh if you want the CRANK mp3 for a different phone, i put it on the net and its on a few free ringtone sites. Just type in crank or crank movie. Have fun!

  45. Well thanks. Thats cool about the wallpapers. I am pretty bummed about the no custom ringtones. Sounds like a scam to me but whatever. Ill keep searching for ways to get ringtones to the phones and if I find anything Ill get back to you.

  46. I was able to install the drivers to use my lg 220c as a modem but i need a user and pass to use the dail up. I think i got the driver from the lg website originaly for my env3 but it seems to work.

  47. I posted about this some years ago, about stumbling upon a class action lawsuit against TracFone for borking the USB functionality of the Phones they sell. Well, I never found it. But what I did find out today that the @mms.att.net does still work for images, MP3 and .MID files. The catch, they have to be under 300k in size. With the size of screens most of the TracFones are, this should be easy. Quick re-size and/or trim in Photoshop does well for the images. May need a good audio editor to get your MP3 just right (I use SoundForge 5. Old but works well) I use a very low setting 80 KBs, 22 Hz sampling (this of course was sampled directly from the CD), no more than 27 seconds long will get you something just under 300k.
    Odd thing is this works sending stuff to my number, but gets rejected by the mail server for my wife. Same service and phone…but for whatever reason, it bounces back. I have to send it to me, then forward to her.

  48. side note…my W370 died last month, so was forced to buy a new phone. LG 420G. Much nicer and came with an accessory kit. not bad for $20. Phone is a definite upgrade.

  49. Just so you folks know… I got a Samsung Intercept from Virgin Mobile for Christmas. I no longer have any of my Tracfone handsets, so consider this a closed topic on this site.

    But thanks for stopping by the site!

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