The 10 best BlackBerry shortcuts

By all accounts, I am a BlackBerry "power user."

By all accounts, I am a BlackBerry "power user."

I often carry more than one BlackBerry at a time. My organization's IT guys--along with friends, family and everyone else--come to me to help solve tough BlackBerry-related issues. And I use my BlackBerry for everything; surfing the Web; listening to music and watching video; navigation; online shopping and mobile banking; social networking; image and video capture; the list goes on and on.

As a CIO.com technology writer/blogger/journalist who focuses on BlackBerry, I've also written my fair share of BlackBerry tips and tricks stories--just check out my BlackBerry Bible page.

More specifically, I've spent lots of time fiddling with Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry OS, seeking new shortcuts and tricks. And I've communicated with various "experts" on the subject, including insurance agency Aflac's BlackBerry guru, all in the name of compiling a definitive list of the BlackBerry shortcuts.

But one article I haven't written is a list of my own personal favorite BlackBerry shortcuts. Without further ado, here's a quick list of the ten BlackBerry tips and tricks I use most often.

1) The BlackBerry "Soft Reset" Keyboard Shortcut

Anyone who's spent any significant amount of time with a BlackBerry smartphone knows that it's often necessary to "reset" or "reboot" you device, whether it be after installing or removing an application, when you're low on memory or your smartphone just starts behaving badly.

You can perform a "hard reset" by removing your BlackBerry battery, but it's often easier to simply perform a "soft reset" since you don't have to actually take your device apart to do so. (Read about the difference between BlackBerry hard and soft resets here.)

To quickly perform a soft reset, simply press your BlackBerry's ALT, Right Shift and Delete keys simultaneously and your device will reset itself.

2) BlackBerry "Help Me" Screen

You can quickly view various BlackBerry status information, including battery-life percentage, free file memory, wireless signal strength in numbers, BlackBerry OS version, BlackBerry PIN number and much more with a simple keyboard shortcut.

Just press your BlackBerry's ALT, Left Shift and H keys simultaneously to display the BlackBerry "Help Me" screen.

3) Skip to the Oldest Unread Message in BlackBerry Inbox

Sometimes I just can't seem to keep up with e-mail on my BlackBerry, and before I know it, a couple of days have passed and I've got hundreds of messages built up on my device. I could go backwards through my messages, but I find it easier to jump to the oldest unread message and work from there, since newer messages could be related to earlier e-mail I might have missed.

To jump to the oldest unread message in your BlackBerry's inbox, simply open up the inbox, scroll over a message and tap your U key. You'll jump right to your oldest unopened mail.

4) Refresh Web Pages in BlackBerry Browser

You can quickly and easily refresh Web pages within the BlackBerry Browser by simply tapping the "R" key when the browser is open.

5) Toggle Between "Normal" and "Vibrate" Profiles

You can quickly switch your BlackBerry's alert profile to vibrate or vice versa, before or after watching a movie or as you enter or leave a meeting, etc., by depressing your device's "Q" key for a couple of seconds while on your home screen. (Read more about how to customize and modify BlackBerry profiles here.)

6) Use Your BlackBerry as a Flashlight

You may have seen various "flashlight" applications for sale in BlackBerry App World or elsewhere on the Web, but why pay for something you can get for free? You can use your BlackBerry camera's flash as flashlight with just a couple of button clicks. Simply open up your video camera application and then tap your Space Bar.

7) View, Copy and Share Page Addresses in BlackBerry Browser

You can easily view, copy and send off a Web page address when using the BlackBerry Browser by clicking your "P" key while on a Web page. You'll then be presented with a pop-up menu that shows the specific Web address, as well as options for copying and sharing the link via a variety of methods (e-mail, PIN, SMS, etc.)

8) Access New URL Field in BlackBerry Browser via Keyboard Shortcut

Unless you're using RIM's latest OS, BlackBerry 6, the BlackBerry Browser does not display a blank URL field for you to quickly type in new addresses and navigate to new pages, until you open up the browser menu and hop over to the "Go to" screen, which can be tedious. Thankfully, you can also open up this Go to screen with a BlackBerry keyboard shortcut.

While on a Web page, simply click your "G" key to go directly to the Go to screen and access a blank URL field, along with your browser bookmarks, etc.

9) Hop to the Top, Bottom of Web Page with a Single Click

While navigating the Web via BlackBerry Browser, you can quickly jump to the top and/or bottom of a page by tapping your "T" key to go to the top and "B" to drop to the bottom of a page.

10) Jump to Next, Previous Files in Media Player

Quickly scroll through media files in the BlackBerry media player applications, both music and video, by tapping "N" for "next" to move forward and "P" for previous to move backward through files.

Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for CIO.com. Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Al at ASacco@CIO.com.

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Al Sacco

CIO (US)
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