BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife - a program for advanced users

BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife
By Joseph Holder on 18 Jan 2011 02:52 pm EST
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BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife (BBSAK) is a tool; just as a hammer and a thermonuclear reactor are tools. Placed in the wrong hands, they can cause destruction. Similarly, using BBSAK can render your BlackBerry inoperable. That being said, BBSAK is also a tool for fixing that. If you carefully - and I cannot stress that enough - follow instructions, it should always work properly for you. If you do not feel comfortable in poking and prodding the innermost guts of your BlackBerry, then BBSAK is not for you.

BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife is a Windows application (sorry Mac users) for controlling your device when BlackBerry Desktop Manager just isn't enough. It comes jam-packed with features designed to let you modify your BlackBerry in ways that the DM just wasn't created to do. Backup third-party apps, load alternate OS builds without the hassle of uninstalling and installing them from your computer, screen captures, and more. BBSAK really is an all-in-one tool; and it's completely free.

Backup & Restore 

Backup Apps

BBSAK App Pre-Backup 

Creating useful backups of your Third-Party apps can be a chore. The Desktop Manager can handle app backups, but it's not the simplest way to do so. There's no direct way to trigger a simple app backup. That's why I like BBSAK's backup. All I have to do is make sure BBSAK can see my BlackBerry and then click backup. After specifying where I want the complete backup, BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife takes care of the rest. Backup COD's (your application files) can be found in C:\Program Files\BBSAK\Backup\

BBSAK Post App Backup

Once you are done, you'll see a screen like the one above. If you do not see a list of COD files that were backed up, then the backup was not successful. Though a quirk of programming, BBSAK can erroneously tell you that apps were backed up when they are not. This usually happens when both BBSAK and the BlackBerry Desktop Manager are both trying to talk to your BlackBerry. In this case, Desktop Manager wins. The solution? Close the Desktop Manager and click "Backup Apps" again.

Restore Apps

Presumably after backing up your applications, you'll want to put them back on the BlackBerry at some point. That's where Restore Apps comes in. While you cannot pick and choose what apps are restored from within the program, BBSAK offers a no-nonsense way of restoring your smartphone programs. This process does take a while to complete and will be longer if you have many apps to be restored.

Pro Tip: BBSAK will restore the COD files that are located in the Backup folder you specify, located at C:\Program Files\BBSAK\Backup\.

Load OS

BBSAK Load Multiple OS's 

If you're an experienced BlackBerry power user, then you've probably installed your fair share of OS updates on to your computer. It irks me to have to uninstall the old OS from the computer before installing the new BlackBerry OS. And of course, all of this is before you load the OS on to the BlackBerry itself. BBSAK takes care of that, allowing you to keep multiple OS loaded onto your computer. To the average user, this probably makes to sense. Trust me when I say downgrading an OS is a lot easier this way.

Wipe OS

Hands down, this is my favorite feature of BBSAK. Sometimes, you want a clean slate. Sometimes you want to completely wipe everything off your device and start anew, with a clean install of the OS. I do this for my windows machines about once every year.

Beware. There is no undo after starting this function. Before completely deleting the operating system and all files on your BlackBerry, you may want to consider backing up your email, contacts, applications, etc. Just a bit of friendly advice. When it completes, you'll have a completely useless BlackBerry on your hands.

From here you can use BlackBerry App Loader or BBSAK itself to load the OS. Remember, if you are not experienced with loading the operating system onto a BlackBerry, please take the time to search the forums and read our BlackBerry 101 articles before getting started. This is not something a person should just dive right in to.

Modify COD's 

In basic terms, COD files are the actual files used to install and run an application on your BlackBerry. BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife gives experienced users the ability to save these files to the computer, delete them from the BlackBerry, and install them to the BlackBerry. Many BBSAK users will not use this tab, but below is a video from the creators explaining these advanced features.

Misc 

Screenshot 

Does what it says. Takes a screenshot of what's showing right now on your BlackBerry. I've used this feature many times to create screenshots for articles here at CrackBerry.com. Saved screen captures are saved as BMP images to My Documents\BBScreenies.

What's on your 'Berry?

Dump Phone

Saves all COD files to the attached computer. According the developers, creators of hybrid OS builds will find this useful.

Read Event Log / Clear Event Log

Your BlackBerry logs many, many events. Errors and normal bits of operation are logged in the Event Log. To most, these logs are full of gibberish; but to an app developer, the information contained in the log can be invaluable.

Factory Reset

"The Factory Reset function is used by those who have an IT Policy put on [their] Blackberry via a BES Server. This function will remove the IT Policy from your device." - BBSAK.org

Update Check

Checks for an update to the BBSAK program.

Notes on using 

  • You must have Desktop Manager 6 installed on your computer; without it, BBSAK will not work. 
  • If BBSAK and Desktop Manager both try to connect to your BlackBerry, Desktop Manager wins. Close the DM before using BBSAK to avoid any errors.

BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife is an excellent tool for advanced users to tweak their BlackBerry's. Personally, I use BBSAK at least once a week, if only for screenshots. Be on the lookout for BBSAK to make an appearance in future BlackBerry 101 posts.

Visit BBSAK.org for download and more information

Reader comments

BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife - a program for advanced users

23 Comments

It's a great program. I just wish I could figure out which COD file holds those sample pics that are read only.

net_rim_bb_mediaOTA_backgrounds_480x360_05_b Sample walls
net_rim_bb_medialoader_video_480x360_05_b is Sample Videos
net_rim_bb_medialoader_music_480x360_05_b Sample music

These are the ones from OS 6.0.0.415 on the 9650.

Os5 sample walls: net_rim_bb_medialoader_backgrounds_480x360_05_b
Music and sample vids have the same names as their Os6 counterparts.

BBHybrids tool, formerly known as Shrink-a-os, can remove these in a much safer manner. Proceed with caution :)

Just a nitpick, there is no such thing as a "thermonuclear reactor". A nuclear fission reactor is a controlled process in which the natural decay of radioactive isotopes of certain elements cause a chain-reaction that allows the reactor to produce heat. A thermonuclear event, on the other hand, is usually uncontrolled runaway reaction that produces very high temperature and is usually used for fusion initation in a H-bomb (Hydrogen bomb).

Love this program... just the other day I had random apps vanish from my applications folder (the joys of a leaked OS, right?). I just looked up what ones were missing from screenshots I saved, pulled up the install COD window and plugged in those specific programs. A few minutes and a phone reset later I'm good as new. This is the BEST tool I could ever imagine for my BlackBerry and I have recommended it to everyone I know who has one for at the very least backing up third party apps. Thanks for introducing this to me last year, CrackBerry!

I love using BBSAK, but one feature that i never could get to work is the Load OS feature. I would have downloaded the new OS and then after backing up my apps and wiping my device, I would select Load OS and I would always get an error stating that the OS is not found, when I know I just downloaded and installed it on my PC. Does the OS have to be in a certain folder to be found (as in the BBSAK folder)?

I get this error also, it just opens AppLoader {Loader.exe) just the newer 1.9.1 version gave me thjis error. the one previous opened Apploader just fine I have since put a shortcut on my desktop fot AppLoader to easily and quickly get to it. I also put a shortcut to the OS folder (c:/program/comon/rim/shared/loader files) I keep all of these Icons within a folder on the desktop and named it "Blackberry" a nice all in onefolder for all my blackberry apps on the PC

Great article about a great program. While I am comfortable using BBSAK, I still learned a couple of things reading this article. Again, thanks for sharing and educating us.

Everytime BBSAK thread or article comes up, I always ask this question, but I never seem to get an answer... What do I need to do if the program does not recognize my device?

I only experience this issue often. With OS6, make sure you have "Use Device as USB drive" enabled. With BBSAK 1.9.1 on Win 7 this has fixed this issue for me.

In Win 7 with OS5 I could not fix this issue. Hope this helps.

X

make sure its a clean install, DM is not running and try reconnect, enter your pass the right one of course and reconnect that should work. it will show your phone once its connected. and check your usb connections that your phone is recognizable from the computer.

Well, last time I thought BBSAK is risky. Never thought I will be using and when I use it, it was great. Totally in love with this app. However, if you use wrongly, will definitely nuke your phone big time :)

i had an IT policy on a bold 9700 i bought for the wife, but it had the password lock enabled. which she finds annoying.

rather than downloading software and removing certain items via DM, i stumbled upon this by chance and used it. connected phone and pressed factory reset and within 2 minutes the IT policy was removed. Phone working great now.

Fantastic post Joseph. Saved me some time and a lot of nagging !!

great app I use it everyday, to save all my cods before a update in-case a app causes a memory leak i can load back the previous one that was good, also for keeping a list of all apps from the past to present with small notes about them this way i stay in the clear and will always be able to have them even when they are not available for down load.
if your serious about your bb keeping it in tip top shape this is the right app, loading OS's couldn't get easer but if you miss use the application you can put your berry in a unusable state and will have to reload your OS. I use to use JL_Cmder but this one is what i bin looking for since it got allot more options.

HELP!
I Have installed an OS on my laptop, but when i select Load OS on BBSAK, it gives message "No OS found, please install a OS for your phone".

i have reinstalled the OS but of no luck, BBSAK is not recognizing the installed OS. but when i open BB Desktop, the installed software is showing in there.

Would you please provide me with a working download link, since all I´ve tried even the BBSAK.org are down or not working, actually all the forums and blogs take me to the officlal site, but is down the link for download. I´ve had wrote them and told them about it but no answer yet.

Could someone help me please?

Thanks

Adan

I have used BBSak several times already, to upgrade my 9700 from OS5 to OS6 and then to install an hybrid OS6, I've done this more than 10 times already. My only complaint about BBSAK is that once you restore your programs, when I delete a single program from the blackberry sometimes it damages other programs non related to the program I am deleting. This has proven to be an extremely cumbersome issue, specially when upgrading single applications like facebook, twitter or whatever. Sometimes nothing bad happens, but other times it just screws up other applications.

I wonder if there is a correct way to upgrade/delete a BBSAK restored application, or if it simply is not adviced to do...

Running Win7 and stupid Norton won't allow access to the site rimgeeks.com. All kinds of alarms went off and when I tried to go to the site anyway, "This page cannot be displayed". Seems it has fake apps on it?? Whatever. If I wasn't using hubby's Win7 laptop, I'd shut Norton off and go for it. But my laptop has Vista and it doesn't see my new 9810. Frustrating.