7 BlackBerry tricks from the pros
What are your tricks?
- By John Zyskowski
- Sep 14, 2010
A BlackBerry smart phone is standard-issue equipment for most
government executives these days, ensuring that workplace issues – and
pressures – are practically never more than an arm’s length away.
However, too often people feel like the BlackBerry ends up taking over
their life, so it’s important to make the technology work for you,
instead of the other way around.
To this end, we asked a few executive coaches for their best tips
for making the most of using a BlackBerry. Their suggestions follow.
Do you have any favorite BlackBerry tricks that help you manage
the device or your time better? You can share those ideas with other
readers by using the comments below. Please include your e-mail
address in the form so that we can follow up with you directly if we
have any questions. We will not post your e-mail address publicly.
1. Get to know some apps.
Ever tried to access Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn from your
BlackBerry Web browser and had difficulty reading or navigating the
pages? If so, go to Blackberry App World and download the (mostly) free
apps that enable you to more easily interact with these popular
services, suggests Marsha Egan, a business leader coach and author of
“Inbox Detox.” As an example, with the Twitter app a star appears on the
home page when there is a new mention, just like a star appears when
you have new e-mail messages. New apps are being created each day, and
searching the Internet for top BlackBerry apps will keep you current and
2. Customize the left-side key.
That button on the left side of the BlackBerry is assigned out of the
box to voice-activated dialing, which Fiona Forrest, an executive coach
with Strategic Learning Solutions, finds a difficult feature to use.
Instead, she advises using the button to bring up the calendar or
address book. Directions for reassigning one of these functions to the
button, which is called the left-side convenience key, vary depending on
your carrier, so check for your specific model. Once reassigned, you
can talk on the phone and easily check your calendar at the same time.
3. Set electronic boundaries.
Productivity and efficiency involves setting boundaries, and you can
use one of the BlackBerry’s battery saving features to make it easier to
set those boundaries, said Egan. Just because the BlackBerry allows you
to be connected 24/7 doesn't mean you should. You can set your device
to automatically shut down at specific times and turn itself back on. To
do so, go to your device's icon screen and click the Options icon. Then
click Auto On/Off, select whether settings should apply to
weekdays, weekends or both, and choose stop and start times.
4. Cut back the keystrokes.
If there are words you type often, you can add shortcuts to them in
the BlackBerry’s dictionary with Autotext under Options, recommends
Forrest. She has added all the days of the week and the names of people
she often refers to in her e-mail. This can save a lot of typing. You
can also use this feature to correct common spelling mistakes you might
make. She also says “no” to the Confirm Delete under the Options menu.
That way deleting a message takes only one keystroke, saving hundreds
of keystrokes a day for heavy e-mail users.
5. Save on directory assistance.
Cell phone companies charge $1 or more for directory assistance
calls, a fee that can add up quickly for an organization filled with
people used to dialing 411 when such requests were free. If you’re
willing to listen to a few second advertisement when you call, you can
use a free directory assistance service by dialing 800-FREE-411, or 800-373-3411, said Forrest. Google also offers a free service at 800-GOOG-411 or 800-466-4411.
6. Beat the traffic.
Time spent behind the wheel caught in traffic is time lost for work
purposes. You can steer clear of backups by using the mobile Web version
of Traffic.com’s real-time traffic alert system, suggested Allan Tsang,
an executive coach and business consultant. First visit Traffic.com to
register for free. Select the highways you will be using every day and
the approximate time. The service will then send automatic e-mail alerts
to your BlackBerry if there are backups within your route and
7. Do it faster with shortcuts.
There are many built in shortcuts for typing and navigating message
lists on the BlackBerry, so you’ll probably want to get familiar with at
least some of them, said Forrest. Some shortcuts vary with different
models, so check your mode’s manual. Here are some of the ones Forrest
tells her clients about.
When typing, press:
- The space bar twice to insert a period and capitalize the next letter automatically.
- Hold a letter key to capitalize that letter.
- The alt key and a character key to type the alternate character on a key.
- A number key to type that number in a number field (no need to press the alt key).
- And hold the alt key and a number key to type a number in a text field.
When navigating a message list, press:
- The shift key and the space bar to move up a screen.
- The space key to move down a screen.
- T to move to the top of a message list.
- B to move to the bottom of a list.
- N to move to the next date.
- P to move to the previous date.
- U to move to the next unopened item.
- J to move to the next related message.
- K to move to the previous related message.
- C to compose a new e-mail message.