Quick Tip: Inserting an X for Dialing Extension When Saving Contact Info

By Kevin Michaluk on 31 Aug 2009 01:02 pm EDT
Dial an Extension with an X

I bumped into an acquaintance on the weekend that I haven't seen in a long time, and before parting ways we did the good 'ole exchange of contact information. Thankfully he was a BlackBerry user and was sporting a Curve 8900 (which btw he loved). I didn't want to send him my full vcard, so dictated him my office line to save directly into his address book. When I gave him my extension, I got a little miffed to see him hit the menu key and then the Add Pause option before typing in the extension digits. I couldn't help but say... you know you don't have to do that, you can just type an X (alt X) after the main number (before the extension) and the BlackBerry will automatically put in the pause for dialing the extension. It's quicker!

Reflecting upon the event made be realize that putting in an X might not be the most intuitive thing, and that even the Add Pause / Add Wait thing can be a bit confusing. It's not really standard lingo considering most people think of dialing either extensions or passwords or menu option numbers after the main number is called. Below is a quick walk through.

Add Pause

To insert a pause, you can hit the menu key and Add Pause. This inserts a three second pause before the next set of digits (extension) are dialed. In this case no option is given to not dial the extension. This method works fine most of the time if you're always going to be calling the same contact on the same number/extension. I have found the Add Pause to not be perfect though in the case of using it for saving an extension, especially when roaming. For example, right now (while writing this post I did some tooling around) I found that on my Verizon BlackBerry Tour (with native OS it shipped with, curently roaming in Canada and calling back to a US line) that the three second pause begins shortly after you hit the dial key, and in this case the pause is over and extension is dialed even before the call has been connected. The biggest benefit of adding a pause is not for dialing extensions, rather menu options (press one for this, two for that... now press one for this, two for that). You can add multiple strings of pauses and digits to dial very complex sequences. If you add pauses side by side the totals will sum up (two three-second pauses will count down from six, vs. from three twice). 

Add Pause
Add Pause or Add Wait

Dial with Pause
Inserting a pause into a contact's number

Three Second Pause
Three second pause before dialing next set of saved digits

Add Wait

Adding a wait is another option (better option?) for dialing an extension. When a wait is inserted, you'll receive a prompt on the screen asking you to either dial the saved extension, skip it, or end the call. This is very handy - in the case where the initial connection may be slow and three seconds is not enough (while roaming) you can wait until you're connected before dialing the extension. Or in some cases, you may not want to dial the saved extension for the contact.

Insert a Wait
Inserting a wait into a phone number

Dial Extension?
Once connected, you can choose whether to dial the saved extension or skip it

Saving Extension with an X

So this one is interesting and you'll want to do some quick testing to see how your device tretas the X. Playing with some of the BlackBerry smartphones lying around me, it seems RIM has changed things up a bit. On my Curve 8900 for example, when I save an extension with a contact and use an X it's equivalent to inserting a pause. When dialing there is a tree second pause and then the extension is dialed. On my BlackBerry Tour however, when I save a contact with an X before the extension, it actually prompts me when calling to either dial the extension or skip it (same as Adding a Wait). I'm guessing RIM has switched to X equallying a Wait instead of a Pause on newer OS builds, but am not quite sure what the verdict is here. Suffice to say, Alt X before an extension is still the fastest when saving a new contact!

Dial Extension
Depending on your phone/OS, saving a contact with an X may insert either a Pause or Wait

When it comes to dialing extensions, I sort of wish RIM would just put a extension field with the contacts app itself (especially with the work fields), so you could fill it directly without the need for hitting the menu key and or inserting an X. Or even changing Add wait to Add Ext would be a bit more clear.

Reader comments

Quick Tip: Inserting an X for Dialing Extension When Saving Contact Info


EXT will work as well. For example, most people (in their signatures) will usually have (555)555-5555 ext:555. If you highlight that entry and hit Send, it'll pause as well.

Out of habit, I included the "X" for my contacts with extensions and learned at some point down the road that it would allow you to dial it during a call.
What I like, is that you can continue the call without dialing the extension if it's not necessary.

I recently updated some documentation for my company, so the users would know to format conference bridge numbers with the X between the Conference number and the passcode.

Of course, I'm still forced to modify my calendar appointments to specify the dial-in and passcode numbers on my Storm.

aren't both options 2 buttons?

I'm all for putting information out there for people who may not know it, but the idea that people who use the menu button are somehow beneath the author comes through loud and clear on this one, and is something I'd expect from an iphone blog, no here at crackberry.

i think you're miss-reading that. no slight meant to any user who doesn't know it. i just had never thought on it before...but put the poll up as i realized after that fact that problably a lot of ppl dont know this as it's not intuitive. i get mad at RIM for poor OS for the consumer..not the user...



I was aware of this tip (after reading the typying/short cut tutorials) but thanks for reminding others! I know they may appreciate it :)

I have a Storm 9530 and when I got to put in a phone there is no need to hit the menu button. I have the number keys, (),#, P & W button plus a few others right there! I guess the X is good if you have an older model phone. :)

In all my contacts with extentions, I had the number then a space then ext.### and it also does it. It is just how I used to put them in my Outlook contacts and when I first got my BB it was all set up with the pause. These are the reasons I love my BB.

because I am anal about the way my address book looks I have everything set up identical and you do not need the X just x will work. The contacts that i have in my address book all look like this (555) 555-5555 x123

This dials the number and then adds the pause and ext it connects.

Just my 2 cents

I have a lot of teleconferneces and really miss the ability to program the entire teleconference login into my calendar. No problem on Windows Mobile, so come on RIM.

can any one help me!!!
i have the black berry pearl and every time i turn it on like a min later a red light goes on and my phone turns off!!! what can i do??? my brother gave me the phone its kinda old and has lots of skraches on it and the battery has a lil water damege!!!