Friday, May 11, 2012

Using "Application Shortcuts"

One little trick can often mean a huge difference in productivity, and this post attempts to offer just that for BlackBerry users. In short, we are going to change one menu setting from "Universal Search" to "Application Shortcuts." To make this change:
  1. Click the "menu" button (the one which has the BlackBerry logo on it).
  2. Choose "Options" from the menu which displays.
  3. You will now see a drop-down menu which has two choices in it: Universal Search and Application Shortcuts. Change the setting to "Application Shortcuts" and save. That's it!
Why Do We Make This Change?
 With Application Shortcuts enabled, you are able to access a number of apps with the touch of one key:
  • L opens the Calendar
  • T opens Tasks
  • A opens Contacts
  • D opens Memo Pad
  • M opens Messages
  • C composes a message
  • N opens BlackBerry Messenger
  • B opens the Browser
  • U opens the Calculator
  • K will lock the keyboard
  • O opens Options
Anytime I want to look at my tasks, pressing "T" brings up the list. Just think how much easier that is as opposed to scrolling to it! Note that all of these shortcuts work when you are on the Home screen. So, if you are looking at your Calendar and want to switch to your Task list, first you will escape out of the Calendar so you are back at the Home screen.

How did I know what shortcuts were available? How can you remember this list of shortcuts? Once you set your menu to "Application Shortcuts," you will notice that when you scroll over various icons, not only will you see the name of the icon display, but many of them have a letter underlined. The underlined letter is the keyboard shortcut.

So Do I Lose Universal Search?
You can have your cake and eat it to. There is one more shortcut to learn. "S" takes you to Universal Search. Here you can enter a keyword and the BlackBerry will find it in any of the core apps on your BlackBerry.

Do These Instructions Vary From One Model to the Next?
The instructions I have given are for BlackBerry OS6 and OS7. If you are running OS5 or earlier, you have a similar technique. Instead of changing Universal Search to Application Shortcuts, you are going to turn off "Dial From Home Screen":
  1. Go to "Options" (the icon which resembles a wrench).
  2. Choose "Phone Options."
  3. Choose "General Options."
  4. On the next screen, look for "Dial From Home Screen." Change the setting to "No" and save.

The shortcuts listed above will now work with your phone.

The application shortcuts are not available on the Pearl (where a single key represents more than one letter of the alphabet).

One small change can make a huge difference. In my opinion, switching to Application Shortcuts is the #1 BlackBerry productivity tip.

What is your favorite productivity tip for your smartphone?
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