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Using Your BlackBerry: For The Novice Smart Phone User

Jenn PrenticeContent Manager
For those of you who are frightened by terms like SQL Server and think that C or C++ is an average or slightly above average grade on your homework, never fear. You've come to the right article. If you're like me, you look at the Experts on EE and feel like you're a dog paddler in a pool of Olympic swimmers -- and you're way too embarrassed to ask them how to do the butterfly stroke.

This weekend, I attended a training class for my new Blackberry Tour, and I was reminded and encouraged to know that the majority of the population is dog paddlers as well. So, this article will be the first in a series of articles I am going to write (one per week) that attempt to  answer some of the questions that many of you may not want to ask EE Experts -- or even your tech savvy friends -- about your Blackberry Tour.  

If you don't find what you're looking for in this article, check back every Monday for the next few weeks to see if your question gets answered. Or, post a question in the BlackBerry Zone. I'll try answer it, but remember, the title of this article does say "novice."  Believe me: No comment, question or suggestion is a stupid one! So, sit back and enjoy Part One of JennHp's Tour of the Tour:

Before we get started, there's a few key terms you need to know:

Home Screen- This is the screen you see when you initially turn on your phone. You can navigate back to the home screen at any time by hitting the "End Call" button (the button at the top right of your keypad with the red phone symbol).

Track Ball- This is the round, "rolly" ball in the middle of your BlackBerry that functions similar to a mouse. You can use the track ball to scroll through lists and icons on your BlackBerry. Clicking the track ball will select a list item or icon. (Think left click on your computer mouse.)

Menu Button- This is the button with the BlackBerry symbol to the left of your track ball. When you're on the home screen, clicking the menu button takes you to a menu of icons (e.g. tasks, functions and applications) that you can perform on your BlackBerry. When you're running a certain application on your phone (ex: using the internet) clicking the menu button pulls up a list of actions you can perform in relation to that application.  (ex: close an application, switch to a new application, etc.) Basically, the menu button functions like the right click on your computer mouse.

Getting Started

Now that we've covered some basic terminology, you're almost ready to start using your phone. (I can feel the anticipation mounting, can't you?) However, the first thing any new BlackBerry user should do is run through the Setup Wizard.  The Setup Wizard does a number of things, including remove unwanted languages from your BlackBerry, which saves you memory in the long run. The Tour supports up to 16 GBs of memory, which may seem like a lot, but for those of you who plan to download lots of cool applications (we'll get to those in a future article), you're gonna need every bit of that memory. Additionally, the Setup Wizard walks you through navigation and typing tutorials, as well as how to sync your BlackBerry up with your Bluetooth and email accounts. Since the Setup Wizard is fairly comprehensive in explaining those things, I won't bother to do so in these articles.

If the Setup Wizard does not pop up automatically after you turn on your phone for the first time, it can be navigated to by clicking the menu button while on the home screen and using your track ball to scroll over to and click on the Setup icon.  (Sidenote: One of the most difficult things about the BlackBerry Tour is that many of the icons look similar to one another, making it difficult to know which one you're clicking on simply by recognition.) Once you click on the Setup icon, you'll be taken to a screen with three other icons. Click on the Setup Wizard icon and select the item you want to "setup" or know more about from the list that pops up.

Setting Up Voicemail

Ironically, the one thing the Setup Wizard doesn't tell you is how to set up your Voicemail. And even with all the advanced features a BlackBerry offers, its most basic purpose is to call people, receive calls and listen to voice messages that others leave for you. So, here's the quick and dirty version of how to set up your Voicemail:  

1.) On the home screen, type *86.

2.) Press the call key (this is the button in the top left of the keypad with the green phone on it).  FYI- You can interrupt the system greeting by pressing #.

3.) Follow the set up tutorial.  

4.) Select a password.

5.) Record a voice signature and greeting for your Voice Mailbox.

To access your voicemail, type *86 from the home screen and press the call key (e.g.- the key with the green phone).

Texting and AutoText

Before I tell you about the cool AutoText shortcuts on your BlackBerry, I should probably tell you how to send a text message:

1.) From the home screen, click on the message icon.  (This is the icon with the envelope on it.) A list will appear with a number of options.  

2.) Click on "Compose SMS Text." (In case you are wondering, SMS stands for Short Message Service. It's a communication service that allows the interchange of short text messages between mobile phones.)

3.) Type the phone number or contact name of the person you want to message in the "To" field. If the person's name and contact information is already in your phone, it should pop up automatically after you type a few letters. Use the track ball to select the person's name (or keep typing their phone number) and then scroll down to the message field.

4.) Type your text message.

5.) Click the track ball. A menu will pop up with a number of options.

6.) Click the "Send" option on the aforementioned menu and your message is on its way.

And now on to AutoText...

BlackBerries have a built in AutoText feature. This means that if you type "acn" instead of "can", the BlackBerry replaces the misspelled word with the correct one as soon as you hit <space>.  Additionally, instead of having to hit <alt-k> to get an apostrophe, you can simply type words like "aren't" without the apostrophe and AutoText fills in the apostrophe for you after you hit <space>.  Finally, if you don't feel like hitting <alt-m> every time you want to type a period...just hit <space> twice at the end of a sentence.  Yep! You guessed it: AutoText automatically puts the period in for you. (Sidenote: Spaces also become periods when typing a web address in the BlackBerry Web Browser.)

Other cool shortcuts include:

When emailing or texting, type mynumber (all one word) and hit <space> and AutoText automatically changes the word mynumber to your actual BlackBerry phone number.

To capitalize a letter in the middle of a sentence, press and hold the letter for about two seconds, and Presto! the letter is capitalized

When typing an email, the first <space> you type becomes an @ and subsequent spaces become periods.  This, of course, only works after you've used the Setup Wizard to sync your email to your phone, or if you manually navigate to your email account via the BlackBerry Web Browser.

Convenience Keys

Take a look at both sides of your BlackBerry. The keys you see on either side are called "convenience" keys because you can program them to "conveniently" open any BlackBerry or third party application you want to open. The default settings for the left side convenience key  is voice dialing and the default setting for the right side convenience key is the camera.  

To change the settings of the convenience keys, click the menu button (from the home screen) and scroll to the Options icon. (This is the icon with a wrench on it.) Click the Options icon and then scroll to the "Screen/Keyboard" item on the Options menu. Scroll down the "Screen/Keyboard" menu until you get to the fields that say "Left and Right Side Convenience Key Opens:" Scroll and click on the item you would like to "conveniently" program into those keys.  Then, press the menu key and use the track ball to click and save your convenience key settings.   (My suggestion: Program the convenience keys to pull up the things you use or do most frequently on your BlackBerry.)

The End

Well, this concludes Part One of JennHp's Tour of the Tour. I hope you'll read along next Monday as I cover many of the things I didn't cover in this article, like browsing the internet and using the media center.  

And just so you know, many of these tips, hints and shortcuts can be found in the Tips, Hints and Shortcuts booklet that comes with your BlackBerry Tour. They can also be found at

Until Next Time,
Jenn PrenticeContent Manager

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