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BlackBerry Convenience key - TO THE MAX

How often do you really need photos in a flash?
By Joseph Holder on 5 Jul 2011 03:24 pm EDT
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Imagine this. You're at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change. Suddenly, three men (though one of them might be a lady, it's kind of hard to tell with the ski masks) wearing ski masks burst forth from a nearby bank. They make a dash for a black 1986 Chevy Caprice. You have just one chance, one small opportunity to save the day. Pulling your BlackBerry forth from its protective holster, you press the convenience key, instantly opening the camera. A second press focuses and snaps a picture of the car (and its unmasked occupants) just before the vehicle tears away. When you get that photo to the police, you'll be a hero. Those bank-robbing thugs are going to get a little justice - BlackBerry style.

Yeah, that doesn't happen too often. In my experience, it is a rare time indeed that I need to take a picture at a moment's notice using my smartphone. That's why my convenience key was long ago relegated to other functions. Out of the factory, the convenience key on your BlackBerry is set to open the camera. For some that's perfect; for me, that key could be doing so much more. 

In my humble opinion, the secret to good Convenience key use is to avoid having it start your most used apps. Think of the five or six (or even ten - it's your BlackBerry) apps you use the most on your smartphone. Chances are, no matter if these are grouped at the top of your All pane or scattered about your BlackBerry,, you can find those most-used apps pretty darn quickly. Why set a key to do what you can already do easily?

Convenience key options 

Instead of linking your most-used app to the key, think a moment on how you would use the key. You could set the Convenience key to launch an app like QuickLaunch, making many, many more apps available at the push of a button. If you write for the Best BlackBerry blog, you're going to take a lot of screenshots. My Convenience key is set to do just that; capturing what a menu looks like would be impossible otherwise.

You could set the key to start a flashlight application. Or the calculator. Or the... you get the idea. Instead of starting the apps you use most, consider setting the key to open the apps you need most quickly. Perhaps it's not the camera you need at a moment's notice; it's Twitter (RT @Dug SQUIRREL!). The point is, your Convenience key is yours to assign as you wish. Make it something good.

  • OS5: Open Options -> Screen/Keyboard -> Right/Left side Convenience key
  • OS6: (Most OS 6 phones have only one Convenience key) Options -> Device->Convenience Key. 
  • OS6 Universal search: search for "Conv" and select the Option that appears

Reader comments

BlackBerry Convenience key - TO THE MAX

25 Comments

I use shortcutme. It is also very awesome.

Actually after reading this article I wrote a macro shortcut in shortcutme that opens camera, takes 10 shots.
This macro shortcut has a better chance of giving the bank rubbers justice, MY BlackBerry Style!
I just click the side key twice and make sure that bank rubbers are seen in the middle of the screen!

I use my left side convenience key to manage sound profiles. Great for when you are already in an app or anything else for that matter and want to silence/change sound profile from within whatever you are already doing.

Lol. I do not think I'd try that. By the time I could get my tour out of its holster, unlock it, and hold in the convenience key to shoot, they'd have already done a drive by on me having decided they wanted no witnesses. I'd be a big fat sitting duck.

i used left convenience key for video on my 9700 as this can be one more press on spacebar for light. As your example, when you are shooting the moving object with blackberry camera, your photo is shaking and will not get good quality for crystal clear pic. it make more sense to recors with your video camera for all things happen around you.

having 9700 0s6 using mini PB theme have already some shortcuts in hand. so i use the left conv key for messages and right one for camera at the moment although that sometimes have change the right key to flashlight ;)

I use QL. I have a double click for camera, triple click for video camera. For me QL is the best app on my 9800. Still wish they had not done away with the other convenience key.

How do you get the double and triple clicks? this is exactly what i am looking for for my torch as its only got one convenience key! -_-

In QL options set Right Convenience Key to Multi-click and then select options for double, triple and quadruple clicks.

I use my one and only convenience key on my Torch for Vlingo so I can text and email while I drive. I have my camera icon always visible on my screen in case I need to take a quick pic.

The convenience key is awesome, and is one of the main things I love about BB (yes, I'm aware that some Androids have a convenience key as well). I have mine set to messages. It's great how when I hear a tone or the LED starts blinking while I'm browsing that I don't have to exit to the home screen and select the messages folder. It's all just one press away.

IDK if this is an OS 5 thing or what but when I do something like, say, look at missed calls, then use a convenience key to get to messages it takes me to the missed calls screen. Same with SMS/MMS or any individual email folder. Then I have to go to the homescreen to get to my messages. Same if I try to use QL or SCM to launch messages as well. Its a bit annoying if you ask me. Maybe they fixed it in OS 6 and beyond?

Well, you have to consider that Messages is an "app", in the sense that if you minimize out of it (using the call end key), reopening it will take you back to the same screen you were on last.

I'm currently using the left key for email and right convenience key for contacts. I, too, am disappointed BB is removing the left key. When I update to the 9900, an app like QuickLaunch might lessen the loss. Are there other similar utilities that should be considered?

Go to home screen preferences and change from Universal Search to Application Shortcuts. You also need to disable home screen dialing. A whole new world of keyboard shortcuts open up to you.

Example: press the following letters for the following actions...

A = Contacts
C = Compose (new email) takes you to your address book or you can select use once to type a new address not in your address book.

L = Calendar
D = Notepad
T = Task
S = Search
B = Browser
U = Calculator
Q = hold down and toggles sound profile between vibrate only and latest sound profile. Must be on home screen.

You get the idea. No need to use your convenience keys. Keyboard shortcuts are great!

Right convenience key = QuickLaunch
Left convenience key = ShortCutMe

and thanks to ExtraKeys....
Volume up = Messages
Volume down = BBM
Pause button = MeterBerry

Why is BB getting rid of one the convenience keys? How inconvenient!

Ummm, and after taking a picture of the bank robbers with your Blackberry, the robbers see you doing this, though you try and pretend like you were just texting. The robbers then open up fire on you. Is there an app with the convenience key to bullet proof your car? How about a convenience key to shoot bullets out of the Blackberry!!?? Now that's what I call a real power user!

left key is for Quicklaunch - all my apps neatly organized for, well, quick launch. Right is the camera. You have small kids, and that's the way to go to not miss those precious moments.

Right convenience Key: BBM
Left Conveience Key: Camera

And I really dont like the move to removing conveience keys - they are extremely handy.

I frequently use my right convenience key for the Camera! I would HATE to not have it there anymore. It is so convenient! I don't use my left so often but have it set to Compose by SocialScope. My space bar brings up QL - very easy. I did not know you could double, triple and quadruple click. Very cool! I'm going to suss that now!

I agree with you i don't use my convenience key as a camera either! i think using it for a flashlight is far more handy :)

They forgot to mention the camera on the Torch wouldn't be able to actually focus and take a decent picture before the car speeds away.The camera on the torch is an embarassment....

Oh yea, and the robbers shoot you in the face for taking a picture of them, theres that too....

The main reason that I have the camera still on the key, is because I use it as a free flash light app majority of the time. Its basically a two app short cut right out of the box.

This aint RIM's first rodeo!