This is the week of that omnipresent Apple device whose name will not be mentioned.  I'm going to resist the temptation to write about that device and the uber-cool people that bought one and instead like to address all those other people.  These are the the people that have a Blackberry, put their shoes on one foot at a time, are doing just fine with a real keyboard with tactile feedback and otherwise are interested in getting work done.

Although I've come across lots and lots of Blackberry tips, there are a limited few that any normal person will hold around in their head, so I thought I'd focus on just the ones that I personally use at least once a day.  These are not the best, the most brilliant nor the most hackerish -- just the ones I think a majority of people will actually get value out of immediately.

6 Quick Tips for the Blackberry You'll Actually Use

1.  Capitalize a letter easily :  If you've composed messages on the Blackberry for a while, you'll likely find that the device makes pretty good guesses as to what should be capitalized.  But, it doesn't get it right all the time.  When you need a letter capitalized, the easiest way to do it is to simply hold the letter key down for a couple of seconds.  You'll find that the lower case letter magically turns into an upper case letter.  I like this one because it requires no other key.

2.  How to move horizontally with the thumb-wheel :  Most Blackberry users are thumb-wheel fanatics (and why shouldn't they be?)  But, when moving within a message (or anywhere for that matter), it is often necessary to move left and right (i.e. horizontally) on a line instead of up and down lines.  To do this, just hold down the ALT key while scrolling with the thumb-wheel and the cursor will move left/right on the line.

3.  Delete messages prior to a date:   I don't know about you, but I'm currently using the Blacberry with a regular POP3 mail server (which means my messages download to my blackberry but also go to my desktop computer).  As a result, I often have the need to delete a bunch of old messages from my blackberry (because I already have them on my computer).  The quickest way to do this is to scroll in the message list until you see a Date.  Then, click your track-wheel button and select "Delete Prior".  This will allow you to delete all messages prior to the date selected.  The nice thing about this approach is that it is much faster than the shift-multi-select-delete approach.

4.  Efficiently entering email addresses:  If you enter a lot of email addresses into your address book, you'll find that you get slowed down by having to enter the @ symbol and the [dot].  A little-known tip is that when typing into an email address field, if you hit [space] when you need the @, the blackberry knows what you're doing and adjusts.  Then, when you need the [dot], hit [space] again and it'll once again adjust automagically convert it.  You have to try this once or twice and you'll be hooked.

5.  Starting New Sentences:  If you're writing multi-sentence responses in an email, the quickest way to do this is to hit the space key twice at the end of your sentence.  The Blackberry will automatically insert a period for you and you can go about your merry business.

6.  Filtering Your Inbox:  If you have tons of email, SMS and phone logs on your device, you'll find this VERY helpful.  When in your email list, press Alt+S to see just your SMS messages.  Press Alt+O to see just your outgoing messages and press Alt+I to see just your incoming messages.

All of these are tips I use every day.  I hope you find them helpful too.  If you have your own tips that you use every day (not looking for the arcane hacker tip that is cool, but not useful) then please share them in the comments.




Originally published Jul 2, 2007 1:17:00 PM, updated July 03 2013


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