Using the BlackBerry Browser on OS 6

By Joseph Holder on 23 Nov 2010 01:24 pm EST
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Hailed ‘round the world as the savior of the BlackBerry web experience, the Webkit-based web browser found in OS6 is fast, sleek, and – most importantly – usable. The browser supports Javascript, CSS3, and HTML 5. What do all these letters mean? Basically, the OS6 web browser is very similar to the browser on your home computer. The web pages you see at home look about the same on your smartphone, just a little smaller.

Sure, you’ve probably used the browser quite a few times since finding it loaded on your device. But do you know all the ins and outs? How well do you really know your BlackBerry’s web browser?

Start

To begin, you’ll find the web browser in the All tab. Personally, I have the web browser as the first icon in the first row of my All tab, but your icon may be in a slightly different location. Can’t find it? Just type “browser” into the universal search.

The browser opens to a brand-new start page, giving you quick access to typing in web addresses, bookmarks, and a brief web history. Clicking on the Bookmarks or History bars will take you to the complete list of bookmarks or history as the case may be.

On the Start page, your bookmarks are self-organizing. As you visit each bookmark, it moves to the top of this list. It doesn’t matter if you visit the bookmarked address from the start page or your bookmarks folder, the result is the same. Why is this a good thing? It means that your most used bookmarks always appear near the top of your Start page.

Going places

The OmniBar and the Awesome bar are features in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that allow you to do quite a number of things by just typing in the box that was once for web addresses only (see: Internet Explorer). Type just about anything into these bars and you’ll get results for web history, bookmarks, and search options. Your OS6 browser can do this and a little more.

Information on the actual name of the browser’s bar is scarce. The closest I could find was, “[the] single URL and search entry box.” To save time, I’ll just call it the Box. Each time you enter something in the Box, you are essentially searching your browser for that item. If the item matches something in the history or bookmarks, it will appear in the drop down box below the Box. In addition, you can search the web for the item or visit the URL (assuming what you typed was a web address).

The Box’s “little more” comes in the form of an old BlackBerry shortcut. The Box knows that web addresses don’t have spaces in them. As a typing shortcut, the browser will automatically insert a period between words when typing a web address. This may seem a little confusing, so take a look at the pics above.

You can access the Box at any time while you’re viewing a web page, even if you can’t see it. Click or touch the very top of the web page to open the Box. Some versions of OS6 include a small triangle at the top to remind you that more options are available.

What to do when you get there

Scrolling around in a web page on your smartphone is just like at home. Only a lot smaller. And with a great deal more scrolling around. Never fear, zoom controls and “Automatic Font Size Adjustment” are here to help.

There are a number of different ways to zoom in on your web page. Touchscreen users can “pinch to zoom.” If you’re unfamiliar with that term, try this. Open a web page. Imagine you’re trying to pick up a very tiny piece of dirt by pinching it. Keep your fingers on the screen and widen the distance between your two fingers; the web page will zoom in. The phrase makes more sense when you think about it the other way ‘round. Put your fingers on opposite corners of the screen. Keep your fingers on the screen and pinch them together. You just “pinch[ed] to zoom [out].”

Touch and non-touch users alike can choose Zoom from the menu and then swipe up and down on the trackball/trackpad to zoom in or out, respectively. You can also hold down the Alt key while using the trackball/trackpad to zoom.

Automatic Font Size Adjustment is my favorite feature of the browser. Smartphone screens aren’t gigantic; this makes reading web pages a bit difficult. Zooming in isn’t always the best option because you’ll most likely have to keep scrolling left and right to view the whole thing. AFSA automatically resizes and reformats the selected text so that it fits nicely on your screen – no more scrolling left and right. All you need to do is double-tap the text you wish to resize, and your BlackBerry takes care of the rest.

Tabbed browsing; many directions at once

Like all modern browsers, the BlackBerry OS6 web browser supports tabbed web pages, allowing you to browse multiple sites at once. Each tab can be considered as its own web browser. Though you can choose Tabs from the menu (BlackBerry key -> Tabs), the easiest way to open new tabs and view existing ones is to click the Tabs button to the right of the Box.

Once open, you can scroll through the tabs that are open by swiping the trackball/trackpad left or right. Select the desired tab by clicking or touching its preview picture. Tabs can be closed by clicking the small red cross beneath each preview picture. You can even close all other tabs. Use the trackball/trackpad to scroll to the tab you wish to keep open. From the menu, choose “Close other tabs.” New tabs can be opened by clicking on the large green cross to the right of open tabs.

Six Quick Tools

Located between the Box and the Tabs button is another useful tool without an easily-found, official name. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll refer to it as the Quick Tools button.

  • Add to Bookmarks: includes the current page in your bookmarks. After selecting, you’ll have the option to edit the title, address, and the folder your new bookmark will go in.
  • Add to Home Screen: creates an icon in your All tab, allowing you to launch a website from your home screen. It’s similar to dragging a webpage to your computer’s desktop, making a shortcut. After selecting, you’ll have the option to make your desktop bookmark into a Favorite.
  • Send Page Address: You can share the web page address in a number of ways. You can share via email, text message, BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter, Facebook, Social Feeds, and several other ways.
  • Copy Page Address: copies the address to the clipboard. Allows you to later paste the address in another tab, an email, bit.ly, etc.
  • Bookmarks: opens your bookmarks folder
  • History: opens the History folder

The web browser included in OS6 is what BlackBerry users have desired for years. It is a powerful and useful piece of software. What tips and tricks have you used to master the web browser? Sound off in the comments below.

17 comments

omarp

browser denomination

gots2beme

with keyboard shortcuts enabled, you can press the "w" key to open a new tab rather than clicking the tabs button next to the address bar

Sashko

I've been looking for a shortcut like that, so I greatly appreciate it.

BTW for me, pressing "w" on my 9700 opens the "tabs" window, and not a new one, but I find that even more useful :-D

Mvor7

Very nice article, I actually learned something!
I spend probably more time browsing on my 9700 then anything!

gentleman2

I copied the below from someone in the forum...very useful.

BROWSER SHORTCUTS
a = Add to Bookmarks
b = Bottom of Page
f = Find in Page
g = Go To Start Page
i = Zoom In
k = Go To Bookmarks
o = Zoom Out
p = Page Properties
r = Refresh Page
s = Browser Options
t = Top of Page
w = View Tabs
y = History

gentleman2

Is there any way to do Automatic Font Size Adjustment on non-touch devices? That is to say, the equivalent of pressing z on the old browser. That is the main issue I have with the new browser, as right/left scrolling is a pain, and it is making me avoid full sites, so if there is a way that would be great.

In fact, in terms of zooming in and out, nothing seems to come close to being as good as Opera Mini. Also, Opera Mini had the 2, 4, 6, 8 for moving up, right, down, left, which was very convenient. However, it was all messed up with regards to cursor speed/movement and was considerably less smooth overall than the new BB browser. Also, it does not seem to work at all with OS6 yet.

omarp

try Bolt it works for me and im also able to load full web pages instead of only mobile version of them. Dont get me wrong the browser is far better than before but theres still lacking some functionality.

gentleman2

I did download Bolt, but never got on with it. I found it ugly, difficult to use, and not at all enjoyable or useful. I much preferred Opera. However, I know some people felt entirely the opposite..

sfmccallie

I don't understand the AFSA comment. Does this only apply to touchscreen devices? When you say double tap the selected text, what exactly do you mean? I have the 9670 and have tried to do this, but can't make it happen...

SparkyBanks

I have the leaked version of the OS 6, but nothing feels like the authentic... I can wait for the official release of the OS 6 for the BOLD 9700

gymwarner

Love the new browsing experience. A big step up from RIM

georgelappies

Is there any way to view the CB forums with OS6 with a larger font without having to continuesly scroll left and right. That is the main reason I downgraded to OS5 because I struggle to read the miniscule font used for the WAP site here at CB...

BerryUK

Browser is good, but they need to re-add Browser emulation again so we don't all have to keep looking at shitty mobile versions of sites.

RIM have yet to explain why it was even removed in the first place...

luqe

Damn, there is AFSA feature, but only for touchscreen???

If there is social feed for OS5, I wouldn't mind going back to OS5

Gikes

Missing the radio streaming functionality from the older OS versions.

luqe

Have you guys try AFSA on Social Feed RSS preview?
It worked there. Why it's not working on OS6 browser?

TelusBB

Is there a way for me to delete these stupid carrier preload bookmarks from my home page or no? I hate having them as they serve no purpose to me.