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BlackBerry Hacks by Dave Mabe

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Hack #3. Take the Easy Way Out with Shortcuts

Cut the course with shortcuts—perhaps the most powerful and underused feature of the device.

The BlackBerry has a very rich system of using shortcuts and hotkeys to quickly navigate inside of applications, and to launch applications from the Home screen. This hack is based largely on the compilation of hotkeys and shortcuts that Mark Rejhon has been maintaining on the very useful BlackBerry Forums web site (http://www.blackberryforums.com/). Mark maintains several FAQs that are of interest to BlackBerry newbies and veterans.

To use application launch shortcuts, you may need to disable the ability to dial from the Home screen [Hack #18] in the Phone application's options. This will mean you can't just start dialing numbers when you pick up an idle BlackBerry, but you can quickly tap the top button on your BlackBerry to put you into the Phone application, and thus be ready for number input there as well.

The Alt key is on the left side of your keyboard. It is just below the A and to the left of the Z. The Shift key is the same as the zero on your keyboard, or it may also be on the right of the keyboard, left of the Power Button and right of the spacebar.

When I say Alt-M, I mean press and hold Alt and tap M, in that order.

When I say Alt-M,O,O, I mean to press and hold Alt, then type M, O, and O, in that order. Release Alt when you are done typing.

Tip

These shortcuts have been tested on a 7290. Because of keyboard layout differences, some of these shortcuts will not work on a 7100 series device, such as the 7100g.

Navigation

Hold the Alt key while you use the trackwheel to scroll horizontally through any field where you can enter or view text. This works in many places: when you're editing a sentence in an email, a memo, or even a form on a web page. You can always move character by character by using Alt and scrolling the wheel. When viewing a message, list, or web page, you can scroll by page instead of by line by holding down the Alt key and scrolling. Hold the Shift key while you are scrolling through several items to select them all. This is useful for processing multiple messages at once. Table 1-1 lists some more navigation shortcuts.

Table 1-1. Navigation shortcuts

Shortcut

Description

Alt-Escape (the button on the side beneath the scroll wheel)

Changes the currently active application [Hack #6] .

Alt-Enter

Locks the BlackBerry.

Spacebar or Return

Scrolls down a page at a time while reading an email.

Alt-Return or Shift-Space

Scrolls up a page at a time while reading an email.

B

Goes to the bottom of the message, list, or web page.

T

Goes to the top of the message, list, or web page.

N

Moves to the next item (next day in Calendar, next message in Messages).

P

Moves to the previous item (previous day in Calendar, previous message in Messages).

U

Moves to the next unread message.

Text Input

You may press Alt-Shift to activate Caps Lock. Of course, there is no need to use it in emails, since the BlackBerry capitalizes text for you automatically. When Caps Lock is on, an icon will appear in the top-right corner of your display that is a little oval with an arrow in it.

You may press Shift-Alt to activate number lock. This will let you punch the numbers on the BlackBerry keyboard with reckless abandon. The upper-right corner of your display will indicate number lock with a little oval icon with a "#" in it.

Home Screen

Table 1-2 lists the shortcuts that are available from the Home screen.

Table 1-2. Home screen shortcuts

Shortcut

Description

C

Compose a new message from the Home screen or when you're in the Messaging application. This will work with most firmware versions, but Vodafone maps "C" to be "Contacts" in theirs.

M

Launch Messages.

P

Launch Phone.

T

Launch Tasks.

L

Launch Calendar.

D

Launch Memopad.

F

Launch Profiles.

K

Lock the BlackBerry.

W

Launch the WAP Browser.

B

Launch the BlackBerry Browser.

E

Launch the BlackBerry Messenger.

A

Launch the Address Book or, on Vodafone devices, open the Applications folder.

R

Launch the Alarm program.

U

Launch the Calculator.

O

Launch the Options program.

S

Launch the Search program.

V

View Saved Messages.

Customize the Home screen.

To rearrange the Home screen [Hack #5] , highlight an icon, press Alt, and then click the trackwheel. You can move the icon somewhere else, hide it, or show all the hidden icons. This will let you hide "Enterprise Activation" if you don't need it, but it will not allow you to drop an item into a folder.

Tip

Sadly, there is no way to change or remap hotkeys to different applications.

View.

Turn on the backlight by tapping the Power button. Some models, such as the 7290, have a two-stage backlight allowing you to set it to "off," "lit," and "well lit."

Messaging.

You'll need some shortcuts in your Messages program once your emails start piling up. With your BlackBerry being so great at email [Hack #31] , you'll love the shortcuts to slice and dice through your mail messages. The shortcut to select items is useful in selecting several messages at a pass. Your loving mother, who forwards you a few select jokes or chain letters every now and then, usually sends them in bulk. By using Alt-scroll you can roll your way down the list of emails from Mom and tap Del to delete them [Hack #22] . Sorry, Mom. You know I love you.

While reading an email you can press spacebar or Return to scroll down a page at a time, or Alt-Return or Shift-spacebar to scroll up one page at a time. Table 1-3 shows some more shortcuts you can use while reading an email.

Table 1-3. Email shortcuts

Shortcut

Description

Alt-I

Show only incoming messages.

Alt-O

Show only outgoing messages.

Alt-P

Show phone log.

Alt-S

Show SMS messages (or Alt-T in Vodafone firmware; presumably for "TEXT").

Alt-V

Show voicemail messages.

Spacebar

Page down.

B

Go to the bottom of the message.

T

Go to the top of the message.

U

Go to the next oldest unread message.

N

Go to the next message.

P

Go to the previous message.

Del

Delete selected or active message.

Alt-U

Toggle read status of selected message (unfortunately this doesn't work when you've selected multiple messages with Shift-scroll).

R

Reply to this message.

L

Reply to the sender and all recipients of this message.

F

Forward this message.

C

Compose a new message.

E

Go to next delivery error.

I

File selected message.

S

Go to search messages screen.

H

Scroll up until selected message is on the bottom of the screen

J

Go to oldest message in the thread of the currently selected message.

K

Go to newest message in the thread of the currently selected message.

V

Go to saved messages.

While composing a message or PIM item.

Press and hold a key to capitalize it. Press the spacebar twice to insert a period automatically and capitalize the next letter you type. This is one of the most underrated features of the BlackBerry.

Press the spacebar to insert @ and . while typing an email address; this works in fields that are known to require an email address.

Calendar Hotkeys

You can use hotkeys to change the view. You can, of course, pick the default view in the Calendar options, but occasionally you don't want to see things in agenda mode (which is my favorite). Table 1-4 lists the calendar shortcuts.

Table 1-4. Calendar shortcuts

Shortcut

Description

T

Today View.

D

Daily view.

A

Agenda view.

W

Weekly view.

M

Monthly View

G

Go to a specific date

C

Create new appointment.

Browser Hotkeys

The BlackBerry Browser has some surprisingly useful shortcut keys. Table 1-5 lists them.

Table 1-5. Browser shortcuts

Shortcut

Description

U

Toggle full screen mode.

I

View your history.

S

Save current page to message list.

O

Access Browser options.

P

Show current page address and title.

A

Bookmark the current page.

D

Switch back to the program that previously had the focus.

F

Find text on current page.

G

Bring up the Go to dialog.

H

Go to your home page.

K

Bring up your bookmarks.

L

Bring up information about the currently selected link.

C

Bring up connection statistics about the current session.

Escape

Go back a page (like the Back button in your desktop browser).

N

Go forward a page.

Miscellaneous Keystrokes

You can change the signal strength meter from useless bars to the actual numeric of your signal strength. While in the Home screen, tap in Alt-N,M,L,L. For more information, see [Hack #17] .

To get your BlackBerry to spill its guts and tattle on what version of software it has, battery level, PIN, IMEI, device uptime, and free storage, you can type in Alt-Shift-H (think "Help me!"). These are things you may need to have available if you call in for support due to a misbehaving BlackBerry.

To see the Event Log of your BlackBerry, type Alt-L,G,L,G. See "View the Event Log" [Hack #8] for more information.

Mark Rejhon, R. Emory Lundberg, and Dave Mabe

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