Tips and Tricks for Your Blackberry

Due to the 24/7 access that it grants us to news, information and work email, the Blackberry is a staple in both the government and business world. While the Blackberry continues to gain prominence in our everyday lives, it is still not a replacement for a real computer. However, with a couple of handy tricks it can keep your work organized and help you be more productive during the times that you can’t be at your computer.

Organizing your Message Folder

The first step to setting up your Blackberry is organizing your email message folder. One of the best ways to do this is to limit your message folder to only incoming messages.  By default, the Blackberry message folder includes both incoming and sent messages. While this helps you remember quickly whether or not you replied to a certain message, it also adds clutter to your message folder and can easily be accomplished by other means.

To limit your message folder to only incoming mail, do the following: while in the message folder, press the Blackberry menu key (the button immediately to the left of the trackpad), go down to “Options,” and then choose “Message Display and Actions.” From here, just scroll down and check “Hide Sent Messages”.

To see messages that you’ve sent so that you can confirm if you replied to an email, simply press the “Alt” button and then the “O” button (for “Outgoing”). This will list all of your sent emails. To go back to your inbox, simply press the back/escape button (directly to the right of the trackpad).

Searching your Messages

It often becomes necessary to search through your messages. While the Blackberry search functionality isn’t up to par with Outlook, it is still very useful for finding recent messages. The main limitation of the Blackberry message search is that you’re limited to a certain number of days in the past, usually 30, which is not encountered when using Outlook.

To search both incoming and outgoing emails, simply press the menu key and choose “Search.” From there you can search by subject, recipient, or sender. If you need to use the more advanced options in your search, press the menu key, scroll to “Search By,” and choose “Advanced.” The Advanced search allows you search by both name and subject at the same time; choose which folders to search; choose whether to search sent messages, received messages, or both; and it allows you to specify the type of message you’re looking for (i.e., a flagged message).

Flagging your Messages

A functionality that I find handy is the ability to flag messages. It works in the same way as flagging a message in Outlook and the flag status will automatically synchronize with Outlook so that messages flagged on your Blackberry will be flagged in Outlook. While you can press the menu key and choose “Flag for Followup,” the keyboard shortcut is a lot quicker. To flag a message, simply press the “W” key. To then mark a flagged message as complete, press the “W” key again. If you end up accidentally flagging a message, you can clear the flag by pressing the menu key and choosing “Clear Flag.”

While the ability to flag messages combined with the automatic synchronization with Outlook would be great by itself, you can also easily view all of your flagged messages on your Blackberry using a keyboard shortcut. To view your flagged messages, press the “Alt” key and then the “F” key (for “Flagged”). This will bring up all of your flagged messages, both pending and complete.

Using the Blackberry Memopad

Another useful tool is the Blackberry Memopad. The title of this app is pretty self explanatory; the Memopad allows you to write down important notes and reminders. What makes this a great app is that it automatically syncs with Outlook Notes giving you an easy way to always have your notes with you. Regardless of whether you make the notes in Outlook or on the Blackberry, they will appear on both.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

View Outgoing Mail Alt + O
View Incoming Mail Alt + I
View Flagged Messages Alt + F
Skip to Previous Day in the message list N   *
Skip to Next Day in the message list P   *
Go to the top of the message list T
Go to the bottom of the message list B
Flag a message/mark complete W
Reply to a message R
Reply to All L
Forward message F
Number lock Alt + (Left) Shift
Caps lock Alt + (Right) Shift
“Battery Pull” phone reboot Alt + (Right) Shift + Del

* These are not typos, these shortcuts were not mapped correctly in the new Blackberry operating systems. Older Blackberries have the correct mapping where N skips to the next day and P goes back to the previous day.