RIM’s first touch screen BlackBerry, the Storm, is also the first RIM smartphone to run BlackBerry operating system (OS) version 4.7, which incorporates a wide variety of new, touch-based keyboard and device shortcuts, as well as gesture-based navigation methods.
While not yet available in Canada – the impending release from Telus Mobility and Bell Mobility is expected before the holiday season – the device was released last Friday in the U.S.
I haven’t put down the Storm 9530 since I first laid my thumbs on it last week, and though it took a bit of time, I’ve uncovered and mastered some great new BlackBerry Storm tips and tricks, including new ways to type special characters; fresh scrolling techniques; click-free message searches; precise text navigation; and an easy way to delete multiple messages in one fell swoop.
Pre-4.7 versions of the BlackBerry handheld OS are jam-packed with valuable shortcuts and other tips and tricks, the majority of which I’ve covered in my BlackBerry Tips of the Week, so I won’t focus on the shortcuts already available within previous version of the BlackBerry OS. Each and every one of the following 20 BlackBerry Storm shortcuts, though perhaps present in another BlackBerry OS, somehow incorporates the Storm’s new SurePress touch screen.
So sit back, relax, fire up that Storm and get ready to become a whole lot more familiar with RIM’s latest addition to the BlackBerry family.
On Key: BlackBerry Storm Keyboard Shortcuts
The BlackBerry Storm is touch-screen-based, and as such, it lacks a physical keyboard; however, three types of on-screen, virtual keyboards are available to users: 1) RIM’s SureType keyboard, which is a QWERTY keyboard with more than one letter/number on each key (available only in portrait mode); a multitap keyboard that resembles the keys on a traditional cell phone (portrait mode); and a full QWERTY like the one found on your computer keyboard (landscape mode only).
To switch back and forth between keyboards in portrait mode, simply click the BlackBerry Menu key whenever a keyboard is displayed, and click “Enable Multitap” or “Enable SureType.”
-To quickly bring up the Storm’s onscreen keyboard, swipe a finger upward from the very bottom of the screen to the middle.
-To quickly hide the Storm’s keyboard, swipe a finger downward from the top of the keyboard to the very bottom of the device’s screen.
-Accented, or “special,” characters can be typed via Storm in both portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) views. To enter in a special character while in portrait or landscape mode, such as an ï, bring up the on-screen keyboard, depress the “i” key–but don’t click it–and a number of options appear on screen, one of which is ï. To choose that character, simply click it on screen.
–To activate number lock, bring up the onscreen keyboard and then hold down the “123” key for about two seconds until a lock appears on that button. The number pad will then stay on screen until you either hide it or tap the “123” key again to return to the normal keyboard layout.
–To activate capital lock, bring up the onscreen keyboard and then hold down the “Shift/Arrow Up” key for about two seconds until a lock appears on that button. The number pad will then stay on screen until you either hide it or tap the “Shift/Arrow Up” key again to return to the normal keyboard layout.
-To change text input languages, hold the Storm in landscape mode, bring up the virtual keyboard and click the “Globe” key found directly to the left of the Space key. Next, scroll to the desired language, highlight it and click the Storm’s screen to select.
Finding Your Way Around the Storm: Navigation Tips and Tricks
-To scroll downward in a message or while viewing a Web page, place your finger lightly at the bottom of the screen–but don’t click–and drag upward. To scroll down a full screen’s length, slide your finger up rapidly.
– To scroll up, place your finger lightly at the top of the screen–but don’t click–and drag it down. To scroll up a full screen’s length, slide your finger down rapidly.
-To zoom in on a picture or a Web page, tap the screen lightly twice–but don’t click it. (The BlackBerry browser also has zoom in/out options; two separate magnifying glasses for zooming in and out sit at the bottom of the browser screen.) To zoom back out after zooming in, click the BlackBerry Escape key until you return to the original view.
-To “pan,” or move around while viewing a web page, hold your finger on the display–but again, don’t click–and drag it in the direction you wish to move.
-To quickly switch between active applications from the Storm home screen, hold the BlackBerry Menu key until the Application Switch ribbon appears on screen. Then lightly touch the ribbon and move back and forth to scroll between available apps. To select one, click the screen when a specific app is highlighted.
-To jump from the Storm home screen to the main icon screen, put your finger on the home screen, just above the app dock, and click once. (You can also simply hit the BlackBerry Menu key while on the home screen to access your icon page.)
Text and Messaging Shortcuts for the Storm
-To copy and paste text from one location to another, lightly touch a finger to the Storm’s screen at the start of the text you wish to copy. Then hold that first finger in place while you touch the end of the text with another finger. The text in between your digits will then be selected. To copy it, click the BlackBerry Menu key, scroll to “Copy” and click the screen. To paste, follow the same instructions but pick “Paste” instead of “Copy.”
-To quickly search your messages for all mailings from a specific contact, find a message from that contact in your Messages application and then gently hold a finger on screen directly over the contact’s name. After a few seconds, all messages from that contact appear on screen.
– To quickly search your messages for a specific subject line, or to track a thread, find a message with the desired subject line in your Messages application and then gently hold a finger on screen directly over the subject line. After a few seconds, all messages with that specific subject appear on screen.
-To precisely navigate to the middle of a sentence, or even a specific word, while typing on the Storm, gently press your finger on the Storm’s screen on or around the text or character you wish to edit. Then, with your finger on the display, but not clicking it, slide your finger around until it’s exactly where you want it and then let go. The specific character or set of characters will then be highlighted for easy editing.
-To delete multiple messages at once via Storm, open your Messages app and gently hold a finger on a message near the top of the list you want to delete. Keep that finger in place, and then touch another message further down the list. All the messages between your two fingers will then be highlighted. From there, you can click the Delete Messages key at the bottom or the screen to do away with the selected messages. Or you can continue to select older messages by keeping one finger on the selected messages and scrolling down.
-When new, unselected messages appear beneath your current selections, touch any of them to select it and all the messages between it and your previous selections. Again, hit the Delete Messages key to trash messages when you’re ready. To unselect messages at any time, click the BlackBerry Escape key.
-Rapidly scroll through messages by sliding a finger sideway while reading an e-mail or text. Slide your finger to the left while in an open message to skip to newer messages; and slide to the right for older correspondence.
A Storm of Multimedia: Image and Audio Tips
-Scroll through images just as you would messages, by sliding a finger horizontally across the Storm’s display. Slide your finger to the right while viewing an image to see newer images; and slide to the left for older pictures.
-To zoom in on an image, tap the screen twice–don’t click. Or you can also zoom by clicking the screen one time. Zoom out by hitting the BlackBerry Escape key.
-To “pan,” or move around while viewing an image, hold your finger on the display–but again, don’t click–and drag it in the direction you wish to move.
-To quickly search your music library for all songs from one specific artist, find a track by that musician or group in a list of songs, and then gently hold a finger on screen directly over the musician’s name. After a few seconds, all songs from that artist appear on screen.