Seven super-useful BlackBerry tips from a pro

Margaret Genet knows BlackBerrys. Though officially dubbed “operations analyst,” she’s the first Aflac hemployee to hold the unofficial title of “technology concierge.” Genet’s job number one: Teach executives how to be more efficient with mobile devices and applications.

“I guarantee if you talk to [Margaret] for 15 minutes, she will tell you 30 tricks you didn’t know that will save you time,” says Aflac CIO Gerald Shields.

In addition to providing BlackBerry training, Genet also works with the Fortune 500 insurance company’s executives on laptops and tablet computers and Aflac’s custom mobile applications.

Genet’s training typically comes in the form of in-person, one-on-one sessions in and around Aflac’s Columbus, Ga., headquarters, but she also holds the occasional teleconference with executives in New York and sometimes teaches group sessions to business managers in Columbus.

And she’s constantly being summoned by those executives and others for repeat visits.

“Margaret’s name has become very, very popular around here,” says Aflac vice-president of IT Business Partnership Management, Bahija Noell, who helped create the tech concierge position along with Shields in the spring of 2007.

Many of the tips that Genet shares with Aflac executives can be found deep inside various user manuals or buried in BlackBerry Web sites, but who has time for digging? Here’s a concise list of her most valuable advice.

Note: Some of the tricks may not work on all older BlackBerry devices.

Tip 1 – Typing Shortcuts

1) To capitalize a letter with one click, hold down the letter key.

2) To insert a period, click the Space key twice.

3) Turn CAP Lock on by pressing the ALT key followed by the right Shift key. Turn it off by pressing either Shift key.

4) Turn Number Lock on by pressing the ALT key followed by the left Shift key. Turn it off by pressing either Shift key.

5) Type an accented letter or special character by holding the corresponding letter and scrolling left or right with the trackball.

6) Insert the current date into a message or document by pressing the L key followed by the D key and Space key.

7) Insert the current time into a message or document by pressing the L key followed by the T key and Space key.

Tip 2 – Messaging made easy – E-mail and SMS

1) In e-mail Inbox, press the S key to search for a sender or a word within a subject line, and any mail folder regardless of message was sent or received.

2) Within Inbox, access the complete list of messages sent by hitting the ALT key followed by the O key.

3) Within Inbox, access the complete list of messages received by hitting the ALT key followed by the I key.

4) Within Inbox, access the complete list of SMS text messages received by hitting the ALT key followed by the S key.

5) Within Inbox, access phone log by hitting the ALT key followed by the P key.

6) Within Inbox, access voicemail log by hitting the ALT key followed by the V key.

7) To delete all messages sent or received before a specific date, highlight that date with the cursor, hit the BlackBerry Menu key, select Delete Prior and confirm selection.

8) To enable automatic spell checking of e-mail messages, click the Options icon on BlackBerry home screen. Then click Spell Check and select the Spell Check E-Mail Before Sending option.

9) To do a manual spell check, click the BlackBerry Menu key within a composed message and select Check Spelling.

10) When a message is being spell checked, suggested fixes to unrecognized words can be ignored by clicking the escape key.On to Attachment and Phone Function Shortcuts >>

Tip 3 – Tweaking Spreadsheet attachments

1) Change the size of a column by pushing the W key.

2) Go to a specific cell by pressing the G key.

3) View contents of a cell by pressing the Space key.

4) Search for text by clicking the F key, and then type the desired word.

5) Switch to a different worksheet by pressing V and selecting the desired sheet.

Tip 4 – Working with Presentation Attachments:

1) Skip to the next slide by pressing the N key.

2) Return to the previous slide by clicking the P key.

3) Start slideshow by pushing the S key.

4) Stop slideshow by clicking the Escape key.

5) Switch to a new view of the slideshow by clicking the M key.

Tip 5 – Multitasking while on the Phone

1) Multitask while on phone calls by hitting the BlackBerry menu key during a call and then selecting Home Screen. You’ll then have access to e-mail and other documents–though most BlackBerrys don’t allow for simultaneous voice and data transfer, so Internet access is unavailable while on calls.

2) Find specific contacts from your BlackBerry home screen by pressing keys for first and last initials, with a space between them. If more than one contact has the same initials, scroll to the appropriate contact.


Tip 6 – BlackBerry Browser Power

1) Bring up the Enter Web Address field from any Web page by pressing the G key.

2) Insert a period in Web address by clicking the Space key.

3) Insert a back slash in Web address by clicking either the Left Shift or Right Shift keys and then hitting Space.

4) Add an item to bookmarks list by clicking the A key.

5) Bring up your bookmark list by clicking the K key.

6) Refresh a Web page by clicking the R key.

7) Display a list of the last 20 pages visited by hitting the I key.

8) Open browser options with the O key.

Tip 7 – Back to Basics: Starts and Stops

1) To put device into Standby Mode so keys cannot be pressed while it’s not in use, hold down the Mute key for a second or two. Undo Standby Mode by holding Mute for another couple of seconds.

2) If BlackBerry slows down, starts malfunctioning or freezing, always try removing the battery and SIM card–if the device has one–and waiting a few seconds before reinserting it. Ninety-five percent of the issues Aflac BlackBerry users experience are resolved by simply removing the battery, according to Genet.

Some of the very best BlackBerry tricks.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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