BlackBerry phone shot at an angle

Photo courtesy of Flickr user edans

Did you make it to ARMLS Technopalooza in Glendale, AZ last month? I went for one main reason – to learn how to use my BlackBerry. ARMLS brought in national mobile phone expert William James to explain the ins and outs of BlackBerry smart phones. Even though the room was (capital p) Packed, I was happy to secured a square on the floor against the wall.

I’ve been a BlackBerry user for about a year, so I know enough to be dangerous. I can call, email, add events to the calendar and Google stuff, but I was ready to learn more. Oddly enough, I can compare this to snowboarding. After about seven years of snowboarding, I decided to take a lesson. Even though I knew how to ride, the lesson took me to the next level by teaching me better techniques. The same thing happened with my BlackBerry. William James shared tips on how to navigate the phone faster and phone maintenance tips that make the BlackBerry process information faster.

One thing I really liked about his presentation is that he told the class where we could download his presentation and handouts, so we weren’t all frantically scribbling notes. (Find them at He has sections on his website for the Android, iPhone, Palm Pre and Palm Treo too. I’m not going to re-publish his entire handout in this article, but I’ll share the shortcuts and maintenance tips I found helpful.

I’ll start with maintenance tips.

1. Clean out the browsers’ temporary memory on a monthly basis.

To do this: Go into the Browser – push the menu button – select Options – select Cache Operations – clear all the options – then push the escape button (it’s the back button – has a sideways u-turn arrow) – and it’ll say “cleaning memory”. Done.

2. Reset your phone on a monthly basis.

Straight from his handout:

“Remove the battery for five seconds and replace. This will refresh the device memory as well as the connection to the wireless carrier. This step may improve overall device speed, signal quality and data speed.”

3. Clean out your inbox.

William says don’t use your BlackBerry to store all emails – just the important ones. Save the messages you want to keep on your phone by highlighting it – menu – save. Once you’ve saved the ones you want to keep, go to a recent dateline in the inbox – push Menu – Delete Prior. It will erase all messages prior to that date from your inbox, keeping the messages you marked Save in a separate place. To access your saved messages, from your inbox – menu – View Saved Messages.

Now on to the useful shortcuts.

1. Typing Capital Letters

To do this: simply hold down the letter for one second. It automatically turns into a capital letter.

2. Typing the ®

To do this: when typing a message, hold down the letter r and roll the trackball. This also works for ñ, ©, ™, as well as accents.

3. Selecting Menu Items

Instead of rolling the trackball, type the first letter in the desired menu item. Let’s take ‘Close’ for example: from an application, push menu – C – select. (Note: If there are multiple menu items that start with C, you may have to push C more than once. )

Bonus: Extend your battery life.

The display screen is one of the biggest battery users on the phone. To help reduce the load, we can dim the back light.

To do this: From the desktop, select Options (the icon looks like a wrench on my phone; when you highlight the correct icon, it will say Options at the bottom of the screen) – Screen/Keyboard – Backlight Brightness – desired brightness. (I have mine set at 30 instead of 100.)

So there you have it, my takeaways from the session. If you have helpful BlackBerry tips or tricks you’d like to share,  let’s hear ’em!

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