Quick Tip: Press the Alt + Back key on your BlackBerry to quickly multitask

Alt + Back
By Jared DiPane on 30 Jul 2012 02:48 pm EDT

Everyone loves to be able to do things quickly, and jumping between applications with ease on your BlackBerry smartphone is something that is already pretty easy. It is common knowledge that pressing and holding the menu key on your BlackBerry will bring up your open applications to easily switch between. To me, long pressing the menu key is less than an ideal solution, and recently I stumbled across a great alternative that works very well.

Instead of having to long press the menu key, scroll around and then press the trackpad to launch, there is another way that works a bit faster. The process is quite simple -- press and hold the Alt key and then press the back key to engage the multitasking menu. From here you can press the back key to navigate between the applications that are open and to select an application all you have to do is ensure it is highlighted and then let go of the Alt key.

While you do need both hands to do this combination, I do find it to be faster and easier to use and now I actually use the options as they were intended. No more jumping to the home screen to gain access to the applications I want, instead I jump into them right from the application that I am in currently.  

Jared DiPane Jared DiPane "News Writer for Mobile Nations
Father | Husband | Chipotle Addict"
319 (articles) 6102 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Quick Tip: Press the Alt + Back key on your BlackBerry to quickly multitask


Nice tip, but I wish RIM would publish ALL of its keypad shortcuts instead of us having to find these things out on Crackberry or elsewhere. Is there any reason they don't do this? By the way, that must be one of the most bashed-up keypads I've seen.

From the post, "From here you can press the back key to navigate between the applications that are open..."

Or, you can use the trackpad to navigate between open programs. Using the trackpad allows direct access to the running program of choice instead of pressing the 'Back' key multiple times until you reach it. I use it all the time, 'Alt'+'Back' for two-handed operation; long press 'Menu' for one-handed operations. Sweet BlackBerry tricks!

I still like pressing and holding the Menu/BlackBerry button. But Alt + Back seems better then the iOS double click the home button.

I discovered this a little while ago and started a thread about it. I love that after several years of being a BlackBerry user I'm still learning new things. :)
* BlackBerry by choice *

Come on, is this anything new??
Since years it is possible to this with the longer pressing of the menu button. And I mean, this is written in every short manual delivered with the devices since years ...

you are probably the only person who reads the manual anymore... and altho its not a bad thing, it still makes YOU the silent minority. (too much reading as the kids say)

these are the things that that stupid college humor council should have been filming video how to's on using shortcuts...

No, it's nothing new, it's even been on another blog post before as well as on many forum posts.

And did you even read the blog post?

"It is common knowledge that pressing and holding the menu key on your BlackBerry will bring up your open applications to easily switch between"

Second sentence dude.

come. on.

@daniel337 - no this is not new. In fact as a RIM device user since 1998 I can tell you that there is almost nothing offered as a tip here on CrackBerry.com is "New".

But what you have to remember is you are smarter and better than everyone else and you know everything about everything and you will have to live with us mere mortals.

Not everyone knows as much as you so please be patient.


I've been using the menu hold to switch applications for years now, but having this variant is definitely faster when you've already got both hands on the keyboard! Very surprised it's taken me this long to stumble on to this particular shortcut!

Thanks for the great tip!

Thanks for the tip, I've had that mapped to one of my convenience buttons for the longest but it's always good to learn another way.

And have you been speed-boxing with that spacebar? Heh heh.

When I first got my Bold 9900 the holster was too tight. The Alt key would be inadvertently pressed in and out of the holster, and it would cause the back key to go into menu mode. What a pain in the butt. I thought it was an OS issue. After scanning a million forums I found out about this being an actual BB feature. I haven't used this feature since

The funny thing is that I knew the Alt-Back button method way before i knew the Hold menu button method. The downside of the Alt method is that you have to hold the alt key vs the menu hold method which allows you to let go of the menu button and stay in the multitask screen

I just keep holding the BB button to get to app switcher. Why use two keys when you can do it with a single one?

Nice. Thanks for the tip.

Whoa! That's the most worn keyboard I've seen, EVER!

How many miles on that thing? Turn it into a "Show Us Your Well-Worn BB" contest.