Must Know BlackBerry 10 Tip - Using the "Compact Sidebar" will let you jump around the BlackBerry Hub and within apps FAST!

By Kevin Michaluk on 11 Feb 2013 11:15 am EST

Ok. This is embarrassing. We've been using the BlackBerry Z10 for almost three weeks and only today did we learn about accessing the Compact Sidebar using the Root Peek gesture.

What is the Compact Sidebar you ask? Well, it's the solution to the complaint many users have voiced that navigating within the BlackBerry Hub feels like it takes too many swipes, especially as you jump between viewing messages in one inbox and wanting to jump into another connected account. As it turns out, BlackBerry solved this problem from the get go by building in the Root Peek gesture which pulls up the Compact Sidebar when you're layers deep into an app.

With the Root Peek gesture, you can invoke the Compact Sidebar by swiping to the right on the left most icon in the Action Bar (the bar at the bottom of the app where your most important shortcuts are). When you swipe to the right on this icon, the Compact Sidebar will slide out, which provides shortcuts back to all of the main menu items. It doesn't matter how many layers deep you are within the Hub or any app with tabs, you can quickly jump to another section. I know it sounds a little confusing, so watch the video above and you'll see what I mean. Then keep reading for more details.

Root Peek
When viewing an email, swiping to the right on the
back button pulled out the Compact Sidebar on the left 

It's kind of shocking that despite 7+ months of BlackBerry 10 previews and teasers and the fact that we've been taking a magnifying glass Z10 for weeks that we only now figured this out. It was actually Marcus , who developed CrackBerry's kick ass BlackBerry 10 app, who stumbled upon it this morning when reading through BlackBerry 10 developer documentation on Peek.

Peeking is the ability for a user to see under a card, by using a gesture. There are two ways in which a user can peek under the card:

Parent peek: The user slides a finger right to reveal the screen that lies immediately under the card.

Root peek: The user slides a finger right on the action bar to reveal the application at the bottom of the stack of cards.

Not all card styles support both peek types. Composer and picker cards support only parent peek, and previewer cards support both types. 

Even when building v1 of the CrackBerry 10 app, not knowing that the Root Peek gesture existed we built in our own shortcut to pull out the main menu using the CrackBerry logo.

That all said, I'm sure there are lots of people out there who did know about the Compact Sidebar, which makes it all the more puzzling why nobody has been too vocal about it. Reading through BlackBery Z10 reviews, one of the common concerns was that at times the Hub feels a little tedious, as you have to do a lot of backswiping out of emails and back to the Hub to then navigate to another part of the Hub. Pulling up the Compact Sidebar with the Root Peek gesture really changes this - it makes it incredibly efficient to jump around within the Hub. Within other apps too, it's such a better experience

I can't state enough how happy this discovery makes me. The BlackBerry Hub and apps in general just became so much faster to use.

Learn it. Love it. Use it. Spread the word. The Compact Sidebar rules!!

Reader comments

Must Know BlackBerry 10 Tip - Using the "Compact Sidebar" will let you jump around the BlackBerry Hub and within apps FAST!


That's an awesome feature, and I'm surprised but pleased you are still finding cool things out about BB10!

Question can u flip the gestures to swipe left or say reverse for leftys? I'm in USA waiting for q10. I'm dying need bb10

You also have to think about whether you're using a left-to-right or right-to-left writing system, not only whether you are left or right handed...

I know this sucks but one person I admire said once that left-to-right writing is best for right-handed people and right-to-left is best for left-handed people because otherwise your hand covers and potentially smudges what you write :)

I have seen BB10 consistently accused of being non-intuitive (okay so it is consistently juxtaposed to the mature OSes in their 6th or so builds).
If hard core fans have not found such a critical function and if the tutorials have omitted showing it then BlackBerry have missed a step there.
But for a v 1 it is quite a solid OS let's be honest here, one just hopes BlackBerry has an update in the works that will try to cover the legit qualms out there.

Weighing people down with too many gestures right from the outset would tend to alienate people, additional info being revealed more steadily will allow more people to take it in.

agreed,,, i've always said BBRY should provide more informative instruction "booklets"/info,,, so much time could be saved NOT figuring this stuff out,,, doing a DETAILED info guide can be easily done online vs. putting one in every box...


Not sure if everyone got this one….

Touch and hold any message in the Hub, while keeping pressure on the message move to the right and voila you can now access all of your needs in terms of handling the message including reply, reply all, add to calendar, delete etc…. via the vertical banner. Call it the One Finger or thumb Touch, Slide Right and Action.

OS10 is simply the best OS out there and yes it has a bit of a learning curve, but once mastered the Z10 humbles iOS, Windows 8 and Android (any flavour).

The device build and form factor is also to die for!

Nicely Done BlackBerry!


They keep trying to tell us that clicking or even tapping has been replaced by swiping and other such gestures, but I suppose that old habits die hard.

If you hold two fingers on either side of the Blackberry name on the bottom bezel and slide up at the same time it invokes the keyboard, same thing to put it away.

Kev....Vivek did a demo of that feature when he did an interview with BBos about a month and a half ago.....he did it while he was in Facebook....I'll look for it and upload.......

We forget that this is BLACKBERRY we're talking about here! They use to publish, dictionary thick, BOOKS on all the buried features of the Blackberry OS. Many of which, to this day, the majority of consumers had or have NO IDEA existed! I blow people's minds all the time with my Blackberry Bold 9900, but I've been doing that since the 7290. I'm sure there will be many other Treasures buried within this OS and we have to find them and generate excitement about them, just like the old days! Blackberry and Crackberry is back! Heck, I remember when Pinstack & BlackberryGuy were popular! LoL so excited for this OS. It's killing me to wait, but it's posts like this that make it worth it. This also is a perfect example of why it's FAR TOO EARLY to judge this OS.

Features like this make BB10 so much better than other platforms...why doesn't BlackBerry tell anyone about these cool features though...there in lies their down seems not even developers know about it....come on BlackBerry...let us know!!!

Awesome find Kevin!!

I knew about this as well just from watching demos because i dont even have a z10 yet and i remember seeing this happening. I just thought everyone knew about it. It is really cool though.

Yea, Vivek showed it at San Jose's Jam America. I just thought it was part of "Flow". Good video either way.

That is freakin epic!!

That use to frustrate me all the time, trying to swipe back to the "main" screen... now no longer!!

Kinda scary when BlackBerry experts were not aware of this feature. It speaks to the complexity of the operating system.

Yeah, I'm not sure scary is the right word, but I agree... we've discovered so much about the OS, that the fact we didn't figure that out on our own means there is room for improvement.

Knowing the Root Peek gesture makes using the Hub and apps where you dive layers deep so much better. This is a key gesture everybody needs to know. 

So now, this saved my rants about hub and fluidness. Thank you. But, I will say, they now have to give the mail icons their own know? I know by error that the first envelope is my gmail, but what if i'm out late one night?

Also, forward BlackBerry that they need to add the option to turn off the subcategories and defaulting of the hub to the most recent hub spot--I would much rather be able to always have it default to showing the hub and everything i chose to have in it--instead of it opening lets say my most recent hub spot, text messages, which i then have to swipe once and tap once to get to Hub ALL or Hub BBM...

Great find!

It's more like Easter eggs. I considered myself to be an expert of Mac OS X but after 2 years of usage I was still finding awesome little details in the OS that aren't publicly advertised.

I think it's awesome because it keeps things fresh. None of these Easter eggs would be considered "necessary" to use the system, and it creates dialog when you do find it.

Perhaps this was not mentioned on purpose, so that even weeks in people will still say, "hey that's cool, I didn't know it did that".

Well, that was useful to know. It solved my second-biggest complaint about the OS.

The first is app availability. Everything else is great.

If you think about it, you can Port any Android app so combine there's with ours and technically we're in second when it comes to apps.

Lol, I wonder if Thorsten knows about this feature? I'm due for a new phone this fall. I've been loving my PB, I need a matching Z10 methinks.


Even works in the CB10 application. I might be a little be ADD but when I'm reading a something in CB10 I'm using this all the time go 'go-back and 'peek' into what's happening in CB10. I don't have to leave what I'm reading, by actually going back, but just do a little look-see.

Cool stuff guys. That's just playing around with the CB10 app and this new feature, I'm sure it's going work wonders when text/email/chat/bbm start flying in at the same time later today :D

I also was aware of this, I think in some of demos that crackberry had showed in the past had advertised that in the Hub there was 2 different types of back button features, one that went back one screen and one that you held to go all the way back to the main screen. I automatically knew of this feature when I got the phone because subconsciously I have seen it the the demos.

Question: Anyone know how to select multiple messages and mark them as "read". Just like they way we did with the older models?

Select a message, drag your thumb over to the right bezel and move down to 'Select More'

Then you can select the messages that you want to mark as read. Then drag one of the messages over to the side again and use the 'Mark as Read' button.

There might be an easier way to do it but that is how I've been doing it and it to me it works really fast once you've done it once or twice.

Ok I just realized that if you do quasi-longpress the menu on the right comes up on its own. No need to drag over to it.

I'm stupid.

Much more fluid this way :D

Selecting multiple messages and items needs to be better. Maybe hold one message then select the others. This is a long process at the moment.

I agree. Actually, once you have selected on message, you should be able to select others as well. I can't seen any reason why that shouldn't be allowed. When you select another message in the hub after a selection, it just deselects your previous message... we should get that cancel at the bottom for multiple messages...

There's NO NEED to "select a message first" - all you need to do is press the Menu button on the bottom right that looks like three dots on top of each other. You will see an option for "Select More" and then you'll be able to select multiple messages to delete.

That's pretty awesome - but it definitely highlights a problem with all BB oses. There are way too many hard-to-discover gestures, shortcuts and menus around. It's very hard to put together a mental model of what works in all situations. Some places have a tap-to-hold context menu, others don't (and you can't tell when something does!). Some places allow you to use the Peek gesture backwards, others don't etc. etc.

I hear what you're saying. The trouble is in finding the balance between simplicity and capability. When your OS isn't very capable it is easy to make the limited functionality that does exist seem quite intuitive. Push an icon to go in, push a home button to go out, push another icon to go in... This article highlights what is a strength of BlackBerry, namely advanced capabilities lurking underneath the surface for those that want them.

In this example the simple/intuitive solution is to swipe back and back and back until you get to where you started. That is the default that BlackBerry went with and that decision makes sense. The power-user, however, will want more and that increased capability can not also be set as the default. For those that demand more we can see there is a solution - maybe not obvious, but it really is simple/elegant enough once you decide you need it and take the time to find out about it.

I see there are numerous other examples of tricks/shortcuts like this throughout the comments here and they all boil down to the same thing: simplicity vs. capability. We know BlackBerry has the capabilities and they do a nice job of balancing all of them within a user interface that is simple enough yet still pretty efficient for even the novice user.

That is definitely a Key feature!! I was just thinking yesterday how it was kind of annoying to swipe back, swipe back, swipe back and then back at the hub. This is a hugely helpful feature. I wish BlackBerry had told us this! Thanks for letting us know!

All of these findings and tips from Crackberry are keeping me ready for my Z10! Cant wait for March! Thanks Kevin/Crack Team!

I think this is good because I read a silly review from some tech site that was griping on this. Looks like the guy who did the review didn't take the time to learn about this and just wrote his idiotic negative opinion on the Z10.

With all the tips and info on CB, I will be all set to go when I finally get my own Z10.

From my Playbook to you

Wow, this might just have solved one of the gripes I stumbled on while playing with the Z10... now for a better way to switch between apps...

Hi Kevin,
I was just thinking if you could consolidate all the tricks and tips you have/you will discover for us the US customers waiting in line again into a sub-division or a micro hub ......because then don't know how easy it will to scroll and find the tips crackberry team has to offer.Just a thought.
Many thanks.

Its been a week now and I'm still in awe of this phone. This is just another example of how good this OS is. I was asked by an i Phone family to show off my new phone to them, it takes less than a minute to show everything this phone can do because it is so fast. I had to start over and ask them to follow along with their i Phone and try to do what I can do in a matter of seconds. That's when it sunk into them. I'm a pure newbie at this too. Great phone.

Fuck me... best tip yet.

Not release the APK file used to get netflix app working

Then release the instagram apk file so i can finally get my wife a z10.

instagram and netflix is a deal breaker for her as our 2 year need netflix on road trips!

I think the problem is the 3 dots (menu icon) are not visible when you are more than 1 level deep, they should be on the bottom left icon at every level.

Not only do you not need the icon, but this also works for apps that don't even use the left side menu at all. Any app where you can go multiple layers deep with the the pages, allow you to go straight back to the root page by peeking on the back button...

My point was to do with discoverability, seeing an arrow people will think "back" to previous screen, not all the way back to the root/menu. Maybe with the 3 dot menu icon present at every level it will make it more intuitive.

omg, have you guys tried the voice dictation on any app......its awesome... no more typing for this cowboy :)

WoW! I have using this feature from about five minutes after I got my phone which was on the 31st of Jan.

Do I get a prize or something?

You guys at Crackberry must not get too close to the Trees or you will not see the Wood I am sure you know who the Trees are in this situation.

By the way it shows what happens when you use a White Z10 lol.

You guys are great keep up the good work.

Not really Kev it I saw it on a Blackberry video one of the start up ones I think!

As I said its dem Trees;-)

As for Mensa I scored 152 on the Cattel lll B so I qualify but I am not a member I'd sooner be a Crackberrian its far more taxing:-)

Love the articles keep em coming.

Ps. I am typing my reply to this on my Playbook which is bridged to my Z10 (White of course) nothing special you say, true but what if I said I am at the same time listening to music which is on an SD card in the Z10 through earphones which are plugged in to the Playbook.

In other words all music I have on SD cards is now available to listen to via my Playbook.I am streaming the the music from the Z10 to the Playbook. It works for Video and any pictures stored on your Z10 phone .If you take a picture and would like to see it or show it on the bigger screen you can instantly. If anyone wants to use these features and cant work it out message me and I will help you.

The point to all this is we have been given a great device by Blackberry its now time to put in the hours and share our findings, I will try to do my bit!

I agree that CB needs to develop a STICKY with all of these hints and findings so that when the phone becomes available in other countries people can come and find the finer points of the phone. Since it is not a global release as far as product availability there will always be some one new coming here to learn about the phone. I will rely upon CB for my training and not AT& T employees when the phone is finally avaliable

Kevin said it may not be available on all apps so I guess that means those not native to BB10. Even so seems like a fairly easy fix. Can't wait to get my hands on it. #restlessamerican

Torch 9860 & PlayBook (Life is good)

Kevin I think this feature was demoed a while ago but no one really noticed it I guess. It was a video where they showed you going into email, message and PDF. The guy uses his thumb to go back into the layers without having to go swipe back three times to get back to the hub.

Anyone else remember that????

Reading the instruction? Have you lost your mind laddy?

Did Mr Scott read a manual when he needed to invert the diletuim crystals?

I think not , Hide your head in shame .

I see you've got light f*cking drizzle and bloody mist ;)

Also, this is awesome. I honestly didn't know you could do that. Sweet!

I swear you found this feature before on the dev alpha? totally by accident, and maybe not as in depth as featured here

Exactly, this was feature I liked using on the Dev Alpha (Past tense indicates I no longer have a Dev Alpha for enjoying some pre official BlackBerry 10 goodness :p)

Damn, that should shut up some reviewers who were commenting on it being a hassle to navigate the hub layers deep/between message sorts. It's a very cool, very useful feature. However: it should not have been a hidden gem found by a persistent truffle-hog (sorry Kevin, no disrespect! ;-) ). I think it would have been better if this had been clear from the get go, from tutorials and such.

What's even crazier is that I just tried this on the Crackberry app on my Z10. The Compact Sidebar works in there as well!!! Makes jumping around the app soooo much easier.
Loving my Z10 more and more everyday. lol

They have actually shown this feature in one of the previews. I think it was the extensive preview with Engadget. The 13min one.

Actually this feature/action was demonstrated by Vivek back in Blackberry World (May 2012) when they showed demo of BB10 for the first time. Remember Vivek goes to The Hub, opens Email, opens PDF attachment, then goes back to the original emails...

I dont understand, why it is not possible tu tap the icons with the email, Facebook, BBM etc. notifications on the notification screen with the clock and firtst calendar item, which you get after unlockinh the device. It would be very fast to have the possibility to jump directly into f.e. BBM chats. If you want read only your BBM messages, you have always to go to the hub, then you have to filter the BBM and then you have got it. Its very annoying and time consuming. It is possible to run only the camera from the notification screen. Its a big pity.

kevin how about switching to the next email once I am in the body of a email ?
In my bold 9900 all I hit is the short key letter " N " and I can go to the next email. I can hit " T " and it moves me to the top of all my emails ? anything like this ?

I should have made a thread. Oh well, thought everybody just knew. Peace.

in the time of your life, live so that in that good time, there should be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life that your life touches, seek goodness everywhere

I always read the "help" app with a new phone. Pretty sure it just links to help on the Web. Love the z10, I can't put it down, except to use the playbook


in the time of your life, live so that in that good time, there should be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life that your life touches, seek goodness everywhere

Great help Kevin! Sweet!

Now, can anyone help me find the Easter Egg that will give me (my) e-mail notifications (profiles) back! This is being a real show-stopper to have to always look at the phone (and unlock!! ARG) ... to know which account received the mail. I miss all of my beeps, boops, doings, twangs....

Or even a workaround tip would be helpful at this point. Or maybe I'm just missing something.

Kevin, you pointed this out on your "Launch" review. Have you heard whether this is being worked on?? (And profiles too???)

It feels like they "broke" much of what made a BBerry a BBerry.

that's the blackberry I know... there are always more shortcuts to discover!

it brings back the memories of discovering new moves on Streetfighter II when the game was just released

Kevin, I noticed towards the end of the video (when in BBM) that you seemed to want to get rid of the keyboard and went and tapped in a message box to make it go down. No need for that, just hold the space key for a second or two.

Another awesome tip... thanks and keep them coming

One short cut or gesture I would like to find out is if I am reading an email, how to go to the next, previous, and/or unread message like my BBOS would let me. previously I would press n, p, or u and it would go there without having to exit the message. Is this something we have lost? or will only be part of the Q10 that has the physical keyboard?

That would surely make my day if someone can find a workaround

Hey Kevin - I just noticed this. Not sure if it's been said yet. It's a small feature - While browsing through your pages of installed apps, it doesn't matter what page you're on, you can swipe from the bottom bezel to the top bezel and it brings you right back to the first page. Very helpful as my more highly used apps are on the first page. Just thought I'd share.

I love blackberry... But I swear they have this way of just not telling folks the tips and tricks of how to best their products.. Remember the whole "event log" clearing? Now who the heck would think to hold atl and press LGLG...? Really..? gotta luv'em!

I wish they had set up the hub so one swipe to the left from the open apps screen would take you to the hub (root) the way is it set up, one swipe to the left takes you to whatever previous screen you left opened, be it a txt msg or a call or and email. I think once you leave the hub it should reset any open msg, idk, it is just me.