The Basics of Setting Up Your BlackBerry's BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series
By Kevin Michaluk on 1 Oct 2007 05:00 am EDT

Happy October 1st Class! Fall is in the air, Halloween is just around the corner, and if you have been following our BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series so far, you'll know we covered Why BlackBerry? and How to Choose the Right BlackBerry for You! which means you hopefully have your hands on a BlackBerry of your very own as you read this.

You might be sporting a new BlackBerry 8310 or T-Mobile's WiFi-enabled 8320 or maybe you've decided to hold out just a bit longer on buying a new BlackBerry so you can get your hands on the just-announced BlackBerry Pearl 8130 (which looks AWESOME and is coming to North American CDMA networks in just a few short weeks). And if you are a long-time BlackBerry user and are tuning in, thanks for keeping us company this class.

From here on out, we're going to assume you have a BlackBerry, and the lectures are going to dive into basic and advanced phone functions, applications, tips and tricks. If you think back to our Why BlackBerry? lecture, you'll remember one of my points in favor of Why to Choose BlackBerry was its easy-to-learn, user-friendly operating system. You'll be doing a lot of BlackBerry learning on your own without having to wait for our Monday lectures, but make sure you don't start skipping class even if you pick things up real fast. We'll be jumping around from topic to topic, so even if you know it all one week, there's a still a chance you'll pick up something new the next.

Last week's lecture was a long one, so today we are going to keep it short and focus on getting your BlackBerry out of its box and up and running with full BlackBerry data.

Business Berry
If you work for a company and they handed you a BlackBerry, most of this lecture won't be for you. Hopefully a capable and friendly BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) administrator or IT dude took the time to set your BlackBerry up properly and showed you how to read and send emails and make a phone call. If that's the case – immediately find the BrickBreaker icon on your desktop and set your personal best. Once set, break that record. Continue to do so until our next lecture.

On the BIS
For the rest of this lecture, I'm going to assume you picked up your BlackBerry from a Carrier and are going to be using the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) for your BlackBerry email. If you're not sure of the difference between BIS or BES or which applies to you, check out Lecture #2 in our BlackBerry 101 series.

Opening the Box
Dive In! Here's what you'll typically find:

  • Quick Start Guide/Getting Started Guide (which nobody reads, but honestly, it is worth taking at least a quick look at)
  • Your BlackBerry Smartphone (wooHOO!)
  • Lithium Ion battery
  • Travel Charger
  • USB Cable (for connecting to desktop computer and charging from desktop computer)
  • CD-ROM with BlackBerry Desktop Manager Software
  • Stereo Headset
  • And in most cases you'll have some sort of BlackBerry holster or pouch (the AT&T 8300 Curve didn't ship with any sort of case!).

UnBoxing BlackBerrys is ALWAYS Fun - DIVE RIGHT IN!

Honestly, of all the BlackBerrys I have had, I have yet to ever take the included Stereo Headset out of its plastic shrink wrap (they really shouldn't even spend the money including these – I'd rather save $5 on the device), and though many people are fans of the included BlackBerry OEM cases/holsters, I'm not one of them (I guess I did like the quick-draw-McGraw style holster on my 8700…but that's about it). Well prior to starting I was an accessorize-my-BlackBerry junkie, and that's what I recommend to all new BlackBerry users! Head down to the accessory store to check out tons of Bluetooth headsets, headphones, and cases for your new toy.

SIM Card Installation
If you're running on a GSM network, the first thing you will want to do is get your SIM card installed. Pull the battery cover off (you might as well get rid of any protective plastic that's sticking to your berry's screen or battery cover while you're at it) and examine your berry's insides. The SIM card is always located beneath the battery (which if you're setting up for the first time won't be inserted into the phone) but depending on the model of phone you pick up, the location/method of insertion may be slightly different. The key to SIM card insertion is too look at the notched corner of the SIM card and match it up to the notched edge of the SIM card holder in the device. RIM always marks the outline of the SIM card into the phone, so whether you're installing it into an 7200, 8700 or modern generation of BlackBerry phone, you can always figure out which way the SIM card has to go (though you may have to squint!) by lining up the notched corners.

Under the Hood of a Generation of BlackBerrys:
L to R: BlackBerry 7250, 8700, Pearl, 8830, Curve
Click the Image to Zoom In

The sliding trap door SIM holder found on new BlackBerrys is easy to use, so long as you squint and read the Unlock/Lock text etched into the holder's casing and look which direction the arrows point. Slide it to unlock, lift the door, and insert your SIM (line up the notched corner). Drop the door, slide it to the locked position and you are done!

With the SIM inserted, you can install your battery. You'll find that BlackBerry batteries always come with some charge in them (enough to boot up, run through set-up, and maybe play a few games of BrickBreaker).

Line up the pins between the battery and BlackBerry, drop the battery in, and replace the battery cover. You'll find that the Lithium Ion batteries RIM uses in their BlackBerrys charge up quite quickly. Only a few hours of charging from a totally drained battery will do the trick, and very often when your BlackBerry is running low on juice, even a quick hour on the charger will zap them back to fully-charged life.

I've always been one to charge my cell phones during the night (it's a habit I developed dating back to my first Motorola StarTac flip phone in 1996 (or was it 97?) and I have never really changed it.  We've had a lot of debate in the CrackBerry forums as to what's the optimal method of charging. Because the BlackBerry batteries can be brought up to full-charge so quick yet have a long life, many feel that charging them all night, every night is overkill and may lead to the battery requiring replacement sooner than if it was charged more sparingly and only when it needs charging (which may be a couple of days or more depending on your usage). I'm not sure if there's proof one way or the other, and I'm too stubborn to change my ways, so I'll stick to my nightly charging ritual (I typically want to replace my BlackBerry with the latest and greatest anyways…so the battery always seems to outlive my use for the device!). If you're looking for longevity though, watch the battery life, charge it only when it starts to get real low, and avoid the temptation to plug it in night after night.

It's Alive!
With the Battery now inserted, your BlackBerry will boot up to life. It takes a while for a BlackBerry to boot up – don't be alarmed. The waiting is a small price to pay for the stability of the BlackBerry OS. Once a BlackBerry boots up it rarely ever needs to be shutdown/rebooted, especially if you stick to 'typical' use (if you monkey around with it…which is often the case of hardcore CrackBerrys…you may need to do a battery pull every now and then).

New BlackBerrys will launch the Setup Wizard upon first startup. Go through the process – it only takes a few minutes and you'll take care of many necessities – like picking your language and setting the time. You'll also get a quick tutorial on the device's input controls (which comes in extremely handy if you picked up a Pearl with SureType). When it comes to setting up your email in the Wizard's final steps, you can choose to Skip it and do it later. If you're following along, Skip that Step, as next we're going to look at setting up your BlackBerry's email service using your carrier's BIS site.

BlackBerry Data Setup
Setting up your BlackBerry email is a relatively easy process, both when it comes to setting up a brand new account and especially for down the road when you want put a different BlackBerry onto your data account.

Here are the basic steps to setting up a new account:

    • Find your Carrier's BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) websiteSelect Create New Account
    • Enter in your BlackBerry's Device Pin and Device IMEI
    • Select your email address to be used with the device
    • Customize your BIS Settings (Send from Address, Keep copies of outgoing messages in Sent folder, Signature, etc.
    • Once complete, you will receive a Welcome to BlackBerry email from the Activation Server on your BlackBerry, letting you know you are good to go. You now are connected to the BIS which will enable your device to send/receive email, surf the web, use BlackBerry messenger and other applications that require data transfer.

    You will be asked for your Device and IMEI When During BIS Account Creation...
    It's easy to find!

    If you have an existing BIS account and want to put a different BlackBerry on it:

      • Login to your BIS account
      • Go to Profile
      • Select Change Handheld
      • Enter the PIN and IMEI of your New Device
      • If you receive a message saying your Device is Not Found/Does Not Exist, on your BlackBerry go to Options > Advanced Options > Host Routing Table > hit the menu key and > Register Now

      This will Register the device on your local carrier's network and then you will be able to add the device PIN/IMEI to your BIS account (I've found this additional step necessary a few times when setting up unlocked phones from the US carriers on my Rogers account in Canada.

      Once Your BIS Account is Setup, by Logging in You Have Control Over Many Functions,
      Including Changing to a Different BlackBerry Handheld Device


      BIS Sites:
      Here are the URLS of the main North American BIS Sites:

      Locating Your Devices PIN and IMEI: This information can be found:

      • On the outside of the box of your new BlackBerry
      • On the BlackBerry, under Options > Status
      • On your device's Help Me Screen. Hit Caps, Alt, H on QWERTY models to bring up the help screen.

      Advanced Help:
      As with any electronic gadget, a million things can crop up that will turn what should be a relatively easy process into a nightmare (in this case a Nightmare on Berry Street). But there's good news – help is always close at hand in the CrackBerry forums. If you're not a member, become one, and the CrackBerry community will help you out with your specific problems quickly! Just be sure to provide as much information as possible (Device Model, Carrier, and specifics) when stating your problem.

      Get Personal
      With your BlackBerry data set-up, you are now ready to let loose and get personal with your BlackBerry.  When it comes to discovering and getting the most out of your BlackBerry, there is one critical key to always remember – the BlackBerry menu/option key (on trackball models it's the button immediately left to the trackball; on trackwheel models you push in on the wheel to bring up the menu). The BlackBerry menu is freakishly smart, and will always have the option (and more) that you are looking for. Go into different applications and menus on your BlackBerry, hit the menu key, and you'll be amazed at what you discover. That's how you Discover BlackBerry.

      We'll get into more device functions on later lectures, but I want to leave you with three of my must-do BlackBerry personalization techniques that you may want to try:

        • Hide and Move Icons – on your BlackBerry desktop you can hide the icons/shortcuts that you don't use (hit the menu key on the icon you want to hide and select Hide) and you can also reorder icons (hit the menu key on the icon you want to move, select move, use your trackball/trackwheel to relocate it and hit enter). My 1, 2, 3 is always Email, Phone, BlackBerry Messenger.
        • TrackBall Sensitivity – By default it's 70%, which I find TOO slow. Go to Options > Screen/Keyboard and you can change the Horizontal and Vertical Sensitivity of the Trackball. I recommend 80%.
        • Convenience Keys – While in this same menu, you can program your Right and Left Side Convenience keys. I like having my Curve's Camera on the Right Convenience key, and the Application Switcher on the Left.

        Some of my MUST HAVE settings - Trackball Sensitivity at 80%, and I like having the Application Switcher turned on as my Left Side Convenience Key. You can find this menu under Options > Screen/Keyboard

        Next Class
        That's it for today class! Your Homework: GO AND PLAY WITH YOUR BLACKBERRY! Next week we will start dive in detail into all of the nooks and crannies of the BlackBerry. Class dismissed!

        Discuss this Lecture in the CrackBerry Forums >>  

        Reader comments

        The Basics of Setting Up Your BlackBerry


        Hey CrackBerry Community!

        Sorry for not having this up in the morning... Sundays are my BlackBerry 101 writing day an yesterday I got tied up with family stuff. I'm thinking maybe Tuesday should become the official "Lecture" day - that way what I don't get done on the weekend will be finished up on Monday and it will always be live for Tuesday.

        I'm still going to update this post with some pictures... but just wanted to get it up as I know people have been wanting it!

        Keep Crack'n!


        Hey Kevin! Another GREAT lecture!

        Family first in my book, so if Tuesday works better for you, then I say "go for it"!!!!

        I'm a new blackberry user - switched from the not so great iphone and am finding the lessons really useful but I am still having so many problems with my phone. Its a blackberry 8310 curve and i have been using the basics of the phone for about a week but when I try to register the phone with my provider it says the phone has already been registered with another carrier which I have not done - is there any way to re-register the phone again? Also to get access to the web, email etc do I need a data account or something as I also do not seem to be able to use any of these functions.

        Thank you for taking the time to put on the classes. I have not missed any yet. I am new to the BB world. I have had my 8703e for just a few months. It did not take long to be completely hooked and addicted.
        Great site too, I check it out a few times a day.

        Great series Kevin. I am a new blackberry user and a long time Palm convert (loving my 8310). As a canadian living in Australia I also figured it my patriotic duty to get a blackberry.

        One thing I would love to know and I have done some searching but found little is a cheat sheet on what the different colours of the topside LED means. For instance, I have figured out that the red LED is notification of email or something. The blue and the grren I am not sure of. So maybe a few lines about all the ways a BB can 'communicate' to you the user to give you information - apart from the obvious ring for a phone cal.
        Again a great series, keep up the good work.

        Hey Kevin, fellow Winnipeger here, and brand new blackberry owner. i just wanted to say great site, great articles, and i think i speak for all of us, new and old alike, when i say we look forward to seeing you in class for the weeks to come!

        im learning alot!


        I suck at remembering to lock my keypad, and it was a pain to go to the main menu and scroll to the lock, so I made it one of my convenience keys. Great tip.

        I just got a new 8310 and I can't figure out how to import my sim card to my address book. Everytime I copy them to address book my address book still says that it's empty (that I have no contacts in my address book). Any suggestions?

        I just got my blackberry curve yesterday. I do not have internet set up on my account. Can I use blackberry messenger even though I am not paying for monthly internet usage on my phone?

        Ok I just lerneded that you need to hit the "alt" then click the wheel to be able to move or hide icons. Hope this helps someone :)

        I just recently got the Verizon blackberry 8830 and I am having a lot of problems with the volume. It is set on high, yet the ringer is so low i cant even hear the phone ring when its next to me. Also when my phone is on vibrate it still rings when i recieve and e-mail or a SMS message. Any advice??

        I got a T-Mobile BlackBerry Ruby phone just recently and I tried to create a BIS account. It was "successful", but I never received a Welcome message. Please help!

        I just came aboard the whole BB ship and I must say that besides how great the phone is, this site puts it OVER THE TOP for me. Great job, Kevin. Look forward to future visits here!

        Finally starting to figure out my Curve 8310. I still can't listen to music on my phone. Anyone know what application I need to download to listen to radio stations and hear different websites.
        Kinda new at this, thanks!!

        !. Pocketmac is very limited compared to Blackberry's Mgr, any upgrades? If it's not music or video how can an app file be downloaded?

        2. I have data pkg and originally could access browser, now I cant get anything but the email setup page???

        I bought the 8310 from AT&T and the 8320 from T Mobile. Now I am living in Thailand. Had both phones unlocked here. And when I take my 8320 to the two different companies that offer Internet and email and news pages and such for a monthly fee. They say Oh the Blackberry can't be set up for email or connect to internet. Now my wife's LG Shine 3g was also from AT&T, and they set it up just fine for internet and email. Does anyone know how to get the Blackberry to work out here? Or what I have to do to undo what they did at the AT&T store when they set it up for email with there service?

        I'm all ears to any suggestions

        This was awesome I received a bb 8320 I am a text queen and I am LLLLOOOOOSSSSTTTTT

        This really helped w some basics thanks

        Why is the volume so low on my phone? And is there anything I can do to make it ring louder? I can hardly hear it when set on loud.

        I have that same problem...i just got my blkberry and am still working on figuring it all out...if you could send me a line on what you found out about the vol. hate that i cant hear it when it is as loud as it goes and in my purse...very upsetting...

        I just bought a 8130 Pearl...I'm glad a friend lead me to this site, I have a lot to learn...I still have lots of questions and hope to get lots of answers...the whole surfing the net and creating icons on a phone is a lot to take in...I just don't know where to start....thanks for listening...

        How can I just receive email on my Messages icon. I have successfully split the mail and SMS onto 2 different icons, but under messages, i keep getting my call log as well. Help, I want to get rid of call log on messages and just get it on the call log icon.

        Also, how do I set up my first page icons like an "L" as opposed to the standard 6 down on the left of the first screen.

        Also, I have a personal picture on my first page, but when I made a call I get that silly "daisy" with a black background. How do I change this.


        Help I want the answer to this question as well!! How do I split my messages up. I dont like getting email, missed calls and texts in the same folder!! HELP!

        Hi. I have a new 8320 from tmobile and I'm loving it. I didn't buy the $30 monthly BB contract since I have wifi. I'm able to use the web via wifi. Can you tell me how to access my hotmail? It looks like it's attempting to load, but never gets past the white screen. Thanks.

        I have a Blackberry 8310 which I love BUT I miss all my phone calls because it only rings 4 times. I added a ring tone hoping to find a long long time tone to help but it didn't. I cannot answer in 4 things, laughing, I just notice it about that time.

        How can I increase the number of rings before it hangs up?

        I also cannot get email and phone to have separate noises/vibrate or whatever.

        Am so glad to find you. Thanks for all the help,

        Great lecture! I love this site so far! I finally decided to give this Blackberry phenomenon a try. I have been a long time user of Palm (recently a Centro)and loved the touch screen.

        My son told me about this website because I am such a newbie to Blackberry. Hopefully by reading all this info and learning how to use my Blackberry 8330 will make me forget that the Centro even existed.

        I'll be doing a lot of reading and playing the next few days, maybe weeks. Thank you for his site!!!!

        What is the blue "globe" icon that shows at the top of the screen - opposite the email icon? What does it mean when there are numbers appearing beside the blue globe?


        Hey these classes have truly helped me make a decision on getting a blackBerry I hope the wait is worth it, I am waiting on the new BlackBerry releases from T-Mobile, any idea if the Bold is gonna be released?

        I am new to this blackberry thing...I have a blackberry curve 8330 and I am having a problem with my facebook. When I use the facebook icon it takes me to my friends list, which is not updated, and I cannot get to my home page from there without going through a lot of steps. So I tried to download the blackerry for facebook app, and I did but it doesn't show up anywhere...HELP!!!ps I am Dawn's friend, she suggested I post on here :)

        I charged my blackberry curve with a car charger and now I can't get it to charge with my regular charger. How can I fix this?

        I really feel stupid. I have been told several times to do something and find out it works a little different instead of clecking here you need to press there and on and on. Is there simple instructions that give the step by step applications to do something simple like enter a single contact. All though I think I have it now it has taken a great deal of trial and error (more error) Help. I really need to transport contacts from outlook to the phone. Help


        When I tried to set up my email account, it said "sorry there was an error while processing your information" click here to try again.

        That happened 3 times.

        I noticed some information that may be false in the lecture that I wanted to point out. You stated:

        You’ll find that BlackBerry batteries always come with some charge in them (enough to boot up, run through set-up, and maybe play a few games of BrickBreaker).

        However, I've read that a new phone, or more specifically, a new battery must be fully charged before using the device initially. It may come shipped with some juice in it, but it's not suggested to start using it right away until it's been charged the first time

        I'm not sure if I installed the software properly when I got my phone. Can you install applications from a website? Just looking for a few tips to maximize the phone's capabilities. Any help would be appreciated.


        I'm new at this bb stuff so when I kept getting a message that said upgrade now from 4.2 to 4.5,it didn't sound like a big deal to me. But I finally did it and I am so glad I did. I have a 8310 and had no video recorder. When I upgraded I got a video recorder, the voice notes are much easier to use and the theme now has the L shape for the icons on the front screen. There were lots of little improvements that I am still noticing, it was worth it.

        I'm new at this bb stuff so when I kept getting a message that said upgrade now from 4.2 to 4.5,it didn't sound like a big deal to me. But I finally did it and I am so glad I did. I have a 8310 and had no video recorder. When I upgraded I got a video recorder, the voice notes are much easier to use and the theme now has the L shape for the icons on the front screen. There were lots of little improvements that I am still noticing, it was worth it.

        I'm new at this bb stuff so when I kept getting a message that said upgrade now from 4.2 to 4.5,it didn't sound like a big deal to me. But I finally did it and I am so glad I did. I have a 8310 and had no video recorder. When I upgraded I got a video recorder, the voice notes are much easier to use and the theme now has the L shape for the icons on the front screen. There were lots of little improvements that I am still noticing, it was worth it.

        I'm new at this bb stuff so when I kept getting a message that said upgrade now from 4.2 to 4.5,it didn't sound like a big deal to me. But I finally did it and I am so glad I did. I have a 8310 and had no video recorder. When I upgraded I got a video recorder, the voice notes are much easier to use and the theme now has the L shape for the icons on the front screen. There were lots of little improvements that I am still noticing, it was worth it.

        I want to transfer my telephone nos from a nokia communicator but no instructions.

        only want tel nos not addresses e-mail etc

        I have read everything I can find about turning up the volume on my bb 8330. I have changed profiles set them to ring on high and tried to use the volume keys on the side. Nothing is working what am I doing wrong? What are the volume keys on the side suppose to do anyway?

        i just put music on my device the blackberry storm, and now its screwed up, its saying, the media being played is of an unsupported format, can some one help me, until i get to tech help

        When I check my office voice-mail, I have trouble pressing the "*" and "#" keys, which the office system requires. Pressing the "ALT-A" and "ALT-Q" keys on the Blackberry while in the middle of the call doesn't seem to work. Is there a way to setup other convenience keys to accomplish this?

        Just got my BB 8300 and this site is really helpful. Having some problems transferring pics from the BB to the desktop at this time. The BB desktop manager is not 'seeing my pics'. I'll keep at it for a while yet though. Thanks Kevin for this site. It's really like "family"!


        Just wanna say thanks for taking the time and effort to create these 101's.

        I've switched from the iPhone to the Blackberry (Bold) which I am eagerly awaiting delivery this morning. I won't go any further on this site until I have it in my hands and played around with it as you say.

        This site will also come in handy, as we're supposed to start supporting BB's at work shortly too.

        I don't understand about the trackball sensitivity and how it works. Is there a lecture that talks about this in more detail? I have a VZ Blackberry Tour 9630.

        I've had this 8830 for two years and have learned more in the last 2 days. Wished I found you guys ages ago.

        80%!?!?!?! I'm a new Blackberry person and I had to make the trackball slower because I couldn't control it. Maybe some day I'll speed it up!

        If I purchase a minimicro do I have to be careful of compatibility and can I add more memory to what I already have. i.e. I now have 3G but want to increase with an 8or higher. Is there a problem and does it matter the make or model of the minimicro?

        Reset the BB, now i am not able to view the application,just a unlock screen appears after re-iserting the battery but none of the keys are functioning, even not bale to unlock.

        And the screen goes blank..

        Please advice....

        Hello All.. Need help

        i have a BB Bold 9700 (White). I gave it to my cousin, the battery was dead. I got a new battery today and did place it,however it does not boot when i put it on.
        It loads up just for a little and the screen goes off.. and it comes on again..

        its been 5 hours now..i did put the phone on charge and its the same thing on the screen..

        can anyone help me out..