's BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series

Morning Class! We're now into Week 2 of the Smartphone Round Robin and thus it's also the second week in a row of Guest Professors in our BlackBerry 101 Lecture series (it's kind of hard for me to teach when I'm not allowed to use my Blackberry for a month!).

One of the things that has become very apparent to all of the Community Editors participating in the Round Robin is that once you have a good understanding of a phone, it's the third party software applications you install on it that take things to the next level and allow you to get the most out of the features and functionality your smartphone device has to offer. It only makes sense then that today's topic covers everything you need to know about installing and managing third party applications on your BlackBerry.

You're in for a real treat this lecture! Today's Guest Professor is none other than BBSmart's Neil Sainsbury. Neil is the brains behind the Best-Selling BBSmart Email Viewer, so it's safe to say he knows a thing or two about 3rd party applications for the BlackBerry. Back in August we conducted an exclusive interview with Neil and today it's nice to have him back on the site as a Professor... Welcome to BlackBerry 101 Neil! Get Crack'n!

How to Install and Manage Third Party Applications on your BlackBerry
by Neil Sainsbury

Taking the first steps
Most people would be familiar with the idea of installing software on their home or work computers. Whether it is used for work or recreation, every one of us would have at some stage installed some software to make life just that little bit easier. What you may not know however is that you can do just the same for your BlackBerry and in this lecture I'm going to be explaining how. It's incredibly simple and if you've never done it before, I can guarantee by the end you'll have found some software that will make you wonder how you ever lived without it.

What and where?
The first thing you will no doubt be wondering is "What is out there?" Well, let's go take a look and there is no better place than the Software Store. In here, you'll find a lot of different software titles: games, productivity tools, travel applications, instant messengers. Anything you can think of, there is a good chance you'll find it in here.

When you are in the store if you look over to the right, underneath the "Software" heading, you'll see all the different categories. If you are looking for something specific, this is the best way to track it down. You can also check out which software is the most popular by scrolling down and taking a look at the Best Sellers list. Software Store

Prices for software range from $5 up to several hundred dollars so be sure also to take a look at that all important price tag. If you look hard, you should also be able to find a couple of freebies in there too! Luckily, before spending any of your hard earned money, most software developers offer a free trial so you really can "try before you buy" with no strings attached. Something to be aware of however is that free trials often will only work for a limited amount of time (up to one month) or they may have less functionality enabled than the full paid version.

Interested in what other like-minded CrackBerries have to say about some software that you are interested in? Become a member of the CrackBerry Forums and post your question in the 3rd Party Software Forum.

Let's get it on!
Alright, so you've found some software that has caught your eye and you want to try it out NOW! Whoa there, let's perform a couple of simple checks first that could save hours of frustration or worse, get you in trouble!

If your BlackBerry was given to you by your company for work purposes, make sure you first check with your IT Administrator if it is OK to install software on it. IT Admins are nice people and if you make a compelling case, it shouldn't be a problem!

The second thing you want to check is that the software is compatible with your BlackBerry. When you are looking at the software description, click on the "Compatible Devices" tab and make sure you can find your BlackBerry model in there.

Software Page

All clear, let's proceed as planned
Alright, so you've found some software, it's compatible, and you want to try out the free trial. There are a couple of different ways you can perform the installation and I'll start with the easiest.

Over-The-Air (OTA) Installation
While looking at the product overview in the CrackBerry store, click on the "Install Now" button. Enter in either your phone number or an email address that goes to your BlackBerry and hit "Send". You'll receive either an email or SMS that looks a lot like what I've shown below:

OTA Installation

Click the "Download" link to launch the BlackBerry Browser and you'll then see a screen that looks a lot like what I've shown below (today, I'm walking through how to install BBSmart Email Viewer):

OTA Installation

Click on the "Download" button and then wait until the download completes. Sometimes you will receive a message at the end that prompts you to reboot your BlackBerry. If you get this, select "Reboot".

So that's it! The software has now been installed on your BlackBerry. Unlike installing software on your PC where you have to first download it, then install it, BlackBerry software automatically installs itself.

Desktop Manager Installation
While installing Over-The-Air is no doubt the easiest, sometimes you may want to install using the Desktop Manager from your PC. When you do this, you get to keep the install files on your computer (maybe you want to archive them for use later if you change your BlackBerry) and often the install files will come with a User Manual which you may want to keep to refer to at a later stage.

To download the desktop install file, when looking at the product overview in the store click the "Free Trial" button.

Sometimes the install file that you download will be executable (.exe). In this case, you can just run the install file and follow the on-screen instructions. If the on-screen instructions don't explicitly mention not to connect your BlackBerry to the computer (via the USB cable) it is probably best to do this as they may just assume you would know this.

More often than not however the install file will be zipped (.zip). Once you have downloaded this to your computer, extract the contents. The majority of the time, the contents of the .zip file will be a .cod file and an .alx file. You will also likely find some installation instructions.

While it is important to refer to the installation instructions in more complex cases, most of the time you can simply proceed ahead as follows:

  1. Connect your BlackBerry to your computer using a mini USB cable.
  2. Start the Desktop Manager Windows application that came with your BlackBerry software CD.
  3. In Desktop Manager, double click on the "Application Loader" icon.
  4. On the screen listing the applications already installed on your BlackBerry, click on the Add button.
  5. Navigate to the directory where you unzipped this installation package.
  6. Select the .alx file and click "Open"
  7. The application will now show up in the list and Actions says "Install".
  8. Click next.
  9. Restart your BlackBerry when prompted.

The majority of the time, applications will place a new icon on the Home screen for you along with all your other icons so when your BlackBerry restarts go and have a look out for any new icon.

Desktop Manager Installation

Desktop Manager Installation

Desktop Manager Installation

Running a tight ship
While it is easy to get excited and install a hundred applications, I wouldn't recommend this! The first thing you have to consider is storage space. At any time, you can find out how much free space you have on your BlackBerry by going to Options – Status. Keep an eye on this and make sure it never gets too low.

The second thing to consider is that some third-party applications will always run in the background. If you have 10 applications running in the background all the time, expect your BlackBerry to start performing a bit slower for all your usual tasks (starting up, reading email, browsing websites, etc.) and also for your battery to wear down quicker.

Personally, I have about 10 applications installed at any one time but I know some enthusiasts who have more than 20!

Get it off! Get it off!
So you've downloaded and played with some software and realise you don't like it. Time to get it off! All BlackBerry software is uninstalled the same way so fortunately, this is a very simple and quick process.

You can also use the Desktop Manager to uninstall software but for now I'll simply demonstrate the easiest and most effective way which is to perform the uninstall on-device. To do this, go to Options – Advanced Options – Applications. You'll see a list displayed of all the software you have on your device. From this screen, you can uninstall any software by first highlighting it and then selecting "Delete" from the menu. Be forewarned however that it is possible to uninstall components which are important to the operation of the BlackBerry (like the BlackBerry Attachment Service) so be double sure you know exactly what you are deleting.

Where to from here?
Third-party applications are a great way to enhance your BlackBerry. There is a great selection of productivity tools to help you get more done and a wide range of games to choose from, so that your downtime with the BlackBerry is also more enjoyable.

Wrapping It Up
Thanks for the lecture Neil! That was excellent. I know there are many BlackBerry users out there who want to get third party apps onto their device but are scared to do it. I think with this lecture now complete many will decide to take the plunge! And hey, if you're looking for a first app to install, why not try Neil's BBSmart Email Viewer?! It's been at the top of's Best Seller list for a while now and for good reason!

Discuss this Lecture in the Crackberry Forums >>