16 Feb 09

Whenever any friend of mine gets a new BlackBerry they hand it to me and let me take 5 minutes to do some minor “tweaks” to make it just a little better. Thought I’d take a moment to share some of these tips with you.

1) Change your default browser to “internet”. Go into “Options” > Advanced > Browser. Change both browsers to Internet (if that’s an option, some companies may not allow it, most of the time it’s initial default will be set to BlackBerry Browser). How will this help? BlackBerry Browser is supposed to “compress” the internet data in order to make it reach you faster. However, if you try to go to many “normal” websites using the BlackBerry Browser you’ll often get a “Data request was too large” error. Switching the default to Internet Browser as the default takes care of this error most of the time.

2) Hide icons you don’t use and move icons you use a lot to more convenient locations on your home screen. Many folks don’t even realize that they can hide icons. So, How do you do it? If you scroll to the icon you want to hide, click the BlackBerry menu button and select Hide. If you accidently hide one, you can click the BlackBerry button (doesn’t matter which icon you’re on), then select “Show All”. You’ll then see some grayed out icons. Menu click on any of the gray ones and uncheck the “Hide” option. To move the icons, Menu click the icon you want to move (you’ll notice a boarder around it) then scroll to where you want it and click again. VOILA!

3) Delete applications you don’t use. My new BlackBerry Storm came with a TON of “extra” software. Deleting this extra software can significantly increase the speed of the device. To Delete Applications, go to Options > Advanced > Applications. Scroll to the application you want to delete, click the BlackBerry Menu key, select Delete. What software should you delete? Well, instant messaging programs you have no intention of using, GPS software you don’t need/want/use, Rhapsody “music buying” software… These are a few examples of stuff I always delete. Anything on there you discover that you’d like to delete, but you can’t, just hide the icons with instructions from number 2 above.

4) Change the “Screen/Keyboard” options. Going into Options > Screen/Keyboard reveles lots of “secret” settings to making your viewing and operations much smoother and enjoyable. First and foremost set the “backlight” to the lowest setting. At first it might seem VERY low, but your eyes adjust very quickly and it will save TONS of battery life. Also, change the “Auto Daylight Backlight” to ON, in bright light the screen will be bright, in low light the backlight will be lower. This helps a lot! (keep in mind the indicator light IS the light sensor, so if you cover it the BlackBerry thinks you’re in the dark and will react appropriately)

5) Setting your Right and Left “Convenience Keys”. Many of the newer BlackBerry devices have at least one convenience key on the right side and the newest BlackBerry devices have one on each side. These buttons can be assigned to any application that is installed on your device. By default, the right side is set to the Camera and the left is set to Voice Dialing. For me, I like the camera, but usually set the left key to “Sounds”. This is the application that can help you select “Silent” or “Vibrate” and the sound/notification settings with one simple click (plus if you assign it to that key you can hide the button on the home screen!)

6) Setup some AutoText (I wrote an entire blog entry dedicated to this topic “Simplify your life with AutoText) items to help you type complicated text over and over and over very quickly.

7) If you have Operating System 4.5 or higher (on the BlackBerry Curve, Storm, Bold, and usually Pearl you likely have 4.5) there is an option for “Wireless Upgrade” of the OS to the newest updated version. If you go into Options > Advanced, then scroll to the bottom you’ll see Wireless Upgrade. By selecting this option and going through the couple question steps it will upgrade your BlackBerry to the most recent “official” release of operating system by your wireless carrier. This isn’t COMMON for many BlackBerry users, but it should be. An updated OS can solve many slowness issues you might have and sometimes even add new options and settings for better smoother options. Keep in mind, if the device does end up having an update to download, it takes a LONG time to do! I highly recommend plugging in the device and running the operation over night (make sure it’s plugged in, a large download like this can drain the battery very quickly, over a few hours).

8) Embrase third party applications IF you can use them. Do you have a Facebook account? Use the BlackBerry application (sometimes installed on the new devices, if not use the built in browser and go to http://mobile.blackberry.com) It’s free and really useful to keep in touch with friends and colleagues and upload photos directly from you BlackBerry to your Facebook page. Another application you might use is Flickr, a photo hosting website where you can also upload your photos directly from your BlackBerry.

9) Perhaps this should technically fall under #8, but it’s much more important than other software. The final piece to the software puzzle is Viigo, http://www.getviigo.com, it’s a news reader! Many people don’t use news readers, or if they do, they might use Google Reader. With this application you can receive news feeds from all your favorite news sources or blogs or other websites offering RSS feeds. By using Viigo effectively you can kill those annoying small amounts of time by catching up on news that you’d want to read anyway, on the elevator, out to lunch by yourself, commuting via public transit, these are all GREAT places to embrase Viigo.

10) The majical battery pull! The battery pull can solve most BlackBerry problems. If you ever think you BlackBerry is running slowly? Pull the battery out for about 5 seconds and put it back in. Experience a lock-up when opening or closing a program? Pull the battery out for about 5 seconds and put it back in. Mysterious things happening to your BlackBerry randomly? Pull the battery out for about 5 seconds and put it back in. Basically it solves lots of memory type issues. If all else fails, try the battery pull before going to your BlackBerry expert (usually known as your company’s IT department, but sometimes that means a friend).

Ok folks, that’s it for now! Enjoy!!


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  • Andy Ghozali

    http://www.steelthorn.com/products/ forgot to add this little software for your quick pull, instead of physically pulling out the battery. Enjoy.

  • Andy Ghozali

    http://www.steelthorn.com/products/ forgot to add this little software for your quick pull, instead of physically pulling out the battery. Enjoy.

  • Whitney Lamp

    This was an awsome post and very very helpful! Thank you.

  • Whitney Lamp

    This was an awsome post and very very helpful! Thank you.

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