BlackBerry Tips and Tricks

  • February 03, 2014
  • Jason Scott Alexander

Getting the most out of your BlackBerry often goes beyond reading the manual and mastering a few basic shortcuts. For Dominic Jaar, legal counsel with Bell Canada in Montreal, it starts with a clear understanding of the intended office-integration features of the device.
“I synchronize ‘My Favourites’ between my computer and my BlackBerry, to be able to quickly access the web with my BB,” says Jaar. “I also centralize all my e-mail to my BlackBerry, and I’ve added the Gmail app to gain access to my personal e-mails as well as my business e-mails.”

Gmail, Google’s free web-based e-mail service, has become extremely popular with BlackBerry users. Partly that’s thanks to Gmail’s nearly 3 GB mailbox allowance and superior search and message-thread handling, but mainly it’s because Gmail can act as a POP account. That means that you can use your BB as a wireless Gmail client to “pull” personal e-mails on your own time, rather than having them arrive intermixed with business throughout the day.

Filtering your inbox is a great way to quickly view messages of only a particular type. From your e-mail list, press Alt+I for incoming and Alt+O for outgoing (sent) messages, Alt+S to see just your SMS messages, and Alt+V for voicemails. A little-known tip for speeding up the entry of e-mail addresses is to hit [space] when you need the “@” and again for the “dot.” BlackBerry knows what you’re doing and will insert them automatically.

Similarly, pressing [space] twice at the end of a sentence will insert a period and capitalize the next letter. Pressing and holding any letter key while rolling the trackwheel will scroll through international characters, equation symbols and other marks.

In an attempt to curb the “expectations spiral,” many users opt to remove the “Sent via BlackBerry” footer from their e-mails. You can change or delete the default auto-signature by syncing the BlackBerry to your computer, running Desktop Manager, and clicking on the Redirector Settings > General Tab.

Jaar cautions that people tend to think that because they are synchronizing wirelessly, the BB becomes the computer backup and vice versa. “In fact, depending on your synchronization preferences, that same wireless synchronization could be the reason why you lose everything,” says Jaar. “For example, if your BB is scheduled to overwrite your desktop and your Blackberry is mistakenly wiped, your computer inbox, calendar, task, etc. could be lost for good.”

Moreover, many features of the BB are not synchronized with your desktop at all, and must be backed up elsewhere. For example, your inbox filters, some folders you have created exclusively on your BB, your SMS or PIN to PIN messages, etc.

“You should do a weekly backup on a USB key while you physically (through the USB cable) synchronize the BB. Often the wireless synchronization will not work perfectly and you need to synchronize physically to make sure you get everything,” adds Jaar.

Should the time ever come that you really do wish to wipe the memory of your BlackBerry clean (e.g. to sell or pass along to a coworker), there are two methods to doing so:

  1. Enter your password incorrectly ten times, plus ‘blackberry’
  2. Go to Options>Security>General Settings, click once and scroll to ‘Wipe Handheld’ and follow the prompts.

And here’s a fun one—accidentally left your BlackBerry in your swim trunks while on vacation? Try leaving it turned off and covered under a bowl of uncooked rice overnight. Apparently this can actually work!