Your Hidden BlackBerry - Tips and Tricks to get the Most from your Smartphone

There are six BlackBerry's in this image + the logo
By Joseph Holder on 20 Apr 2011 10:47 am EDT

This is a truly exciting time to be at! New BlackBerry smartphones are on the way. I may not be conveying the proper level of excitement; let me try again. Faster processors with nearly double the computing speed of any BlackBerry currently on the market. More RAM. Increased storage. Magnetometers, augmented reality. NFC chips. Newawesomekick-butt BlackBerry devices are coming!

I am incredibly excited for all the ‘Berry's coming our way! But it's not just the hardware that's exciting. The BlackBerry OS 6.1 brings with it all new capabilities and improvements. And surprises.

Not everything a BlackBerry can do is written out in the manual; it's just not practical to include every piece of trivia. For me, filling in the gaps is fun. I love that "I didn't know I could do that" moment; I even mentioned it on the last podcast. Some features are buried in a menu or locked behind cryptic keyboard combinations. I remember - and this was before I really started to explore - finding out about Copy & Paste.

I had somehow managed to select some text, and I was really wishing I could press Control-C and copy this text to an email. Like many BlackBerry users, my first though was maybe there's an option in the menu. Not only was there an option to copy, but it was already selected. My BlackBerry knew what I was trying to do before I did.

That's probably when it started, my wonderful CrackBerry addiction. I began to look for more hidden tricks to my BlackBerry. Follow me after the break, I'll share a few of them with you.

Help Me!

Help Me!

My favorite trick so far. The Help Me! Screen gives you a ton of useful information about your BlackBerry. PIN, IMEI, OS Version and more are included in this little screen, and it's dead easy to get to. On your BlackBerry's keyboard, press the left shift key, the alt key, and h. You don't need to press them simultaneously, but all three keys need to be depressed.

Application Switcher

BlackBerry Application Switcher

By now, you probably know you can easily switch between apps by holding the menu key -the one that has the BlackBerry logo on it - and then selecting an app from the list. If you open the App Switcher and simply press the menu key again, you'll switch to the last app you used. It's a way to quickly switch between two apps. For example, copy & pasting parts of a web page into an email.

BlackBerry Tweet

My second App Switcher trick comes courtesy of @BlackBerry; it's actually what got me started on this article. As you can see up there, all you'll need to do is hold down the alt key and press the Escape (Back) key. The app switcher will open. Keep holding alt. Each time you press the escape key, the next application is highlighted in the list.

Signal Strength

Results of NMLL

Those signal strength bars never tell the whole story; ever curious about what your wireless signal strength really is? On you BlackBerry keyboard, hold the alt key and type N M L L. This will change your bars into numbers. You'll notice it's always a negative number; through a quirk in science and math a signal of -100 is better than a signal of -50, though anything in between should give you decent coverage. To change back to the signal bars, do the same thing again. Hold alt and type N M L L.

A Challenge 

There are many, many more shortcuts to find, but we've come to the end of this article. Where do we go from here? I set you a challenge, CrackBerry Nation. When those BlackBerry 6.1 phones get released, there's bound to be more of these tips and short cuts. Help me find them all. Make a post in our forums, Tweet it to the world, send us an email; any way you please. Together, we can make the biggest, baddest, most comprehensive guide to BlackBerry tips that the world has ever known!! Perhaps I got a little carried away with that one; but please, help me catch 'em all.


Reader comments

Your Hidden BlackBerry - Tips and Tricks to get the Most from your Smartphone


Is it possible for theme makers to use the NMLL # to display signal strength in a larger format? The original format is great, but it's a little hard to read.

this is the single greatest key combination on a BB ever. Especially if you have one of the iSkin Vibes cases, or even those hardshell snap on cases. Although it's actually "ALT+RIGHT SHIFT+DEL" as in, hold down ALT, hold down RIGHT SHIFT and tap DEL. using the left shift key won't work. Or at least it hasn't for me on any Curve 8330, Curve 9300 or Bold 9780 OS that I've used.

And it seems like you have to hold for a few seconds on OS6 (at least on my Torch) until the reset happens. Watch for the LED indicator to turn red.

not really, you can release the buttons right after, it just takes a few seconds for the phone to actually restart.

I agree wholeheartedly about that wow moment. It doesn't matter what gadget we're talking about when you discover your device can do something you didn't know about its a great feeling.

my T4BB tip for the day - touchscreens (storm/torch) when in timeline swipe left to right to go to top of page, swipe right to left to go down a page at a time.

for non touchscreen devices use T for top and B for bottom of page as you would in the browser :)

Let's not forget Blackberry Safe Mode. Safe Mode starts the Blackberry with no third-party apps or themes, just like Windows. It makes troubleshooting or removing apps very easy.

To turn on safe mode, follow these steps:

1. Do a battery pull.
2. After you reinsert the battery, watch for the red light-emitting diode (LED). When the LED goes out press and hold the ESCAPE key until the phone finishes booting. Release the ESCAPE key.
3. When the phone is booted, you'll see a dialog box telling you that you are in Safe Mode. Click OK.

There is a safe mode indicator in the status section of your home screen.

To turn off safe mode, just do another battery pull.

those tips that require keyboard inputs, how do we do them on a Storm??? im always pissed everytime sum 1 does one of these bb-tips post and and say stuff liike "hold alt-shift-del" to reset your bb..... what about the storm method, isnt it a bb as well? if it theres not way of doing it on a storm can sum1 just say its impossible and not just leave it out.....

I'll have to test this on my dad's storm the next time I see him.

I did however do some research, and all I've found for the Storms as a reboot is reference to apps such as Quickpull. Was unable to find any ALT+RIGHT SHIFT+DEL equivalent shortcuts on the interwebs unfortunately :-/

Wow i love the new signal icon. And the help me screen has been awesome since i learned it. Three finger reboot also something i use. The blackberry browser has tons that i always use: R = Refresh the page, H = Home (site), I = Zoom in, O= Zoom out, W = Tab Screen, T = Top of page, B = Bottom of page Y = History,P = Page properties, A = Add to bookmarks, S = Browers options, F = Find on page, G = Go to, K = Bookmarks. Zooming in and out of a page can also be done by holding alt and Scrolling up or down.

It should be noted ALT-SHIFT-DEL does not reset the device in the same manner as a battery pull. To do a full reset you should still perform a battery pull.

How is it different if the OS is still restarting? We dont unplug our pc's or take the batteries out of our laptops when we need to do a restart. Just am curious how it is different in this case?

Here is the standrd list I use.

Enterprise Activation (Options->Advanced)
ALT+CNFG - Settings for Enterprise Activation

Address Book
ALT+VALD - Validate the data structure and look for inconsistencies
ALT+RBLD - Force a data structure rebuild

from the Options menu, type the following (No ALT+ required)
RSET - Will prompt to erase & reload for a reload of the Address book from the BES
(n.b. this will wipe all entries, but you can goto SIM Phone Book & copy entries back afterwards)

ALT+RBVS - View web page source code

Open up a Calendar item
ALT+VIEW Inside any Calendar item Show extra info for a Calendar event
(including message ID - handy for BES log troubleshooting)

from the Options menu, type the following (No ALT+ required)
SYNC - Enable Calendar slow sync
RSET - Will prompt for a reload of the calendar from the BES
RCFG - Request BES configuration
SCFG - Send device configuration
DCFG - Get CICAL configuration
SUPD - Enable detailed Cal. report for backup
SUPS - Disable detailed Cal. report for backup
SUPN - Disable Cal. report database
LUID - Enable view by UID
SRSL - Show Reminder status log

ALT+VIEW - For messages, displays the RefId and FolderId for that particular message. For PIM items, displays only the RefId.

Search Application
ALT+ADVM Search Application Enabled Advanced Global Search

Home Screen
ALT(left)+Shift(right)+Del - Restart the Blackberry (only for full-keyboard Blackberries)
ALT+JKVV - Display cause of PDP reject
ALT+CAP+ H - Displays the Help Me screen
ALT + EACE - Displays the Help Me screen
ALT + ESCR - Displays the Help Me screen
ALT + NMLL - Switches the signal strength from bars to a numeric value.
ALT + LGLG - Displays the Java™ event log.

WLAN (WLAN wizard screen)
ALT-SMON WLAN - Enable simulated Wizard mode
ALT-SMOF WLAN - Disable simulated Wizard mode

Theme (from theme menu)
ALT-THMN - Change to no theme (B&W)
ALT-THMD - Change to default theme

Date/Time (Date/Time menu - No ALT+ required)
LOLO - Date/Time Show Network time values

SIM Card (Options->Advanced->SIM card - No ALT+ required)
MEPD - Display MEP info
MEP1 - Disable SIM personalization
MEP2 - Disable Network personalization
MEP3 - Disable Network subset personalization
MEP4 - Disable Service provider personalization
MEP5 - Disable Corporate personalization

Status (Options->Status)
BUYR - Data & Voice Usage
TEST - start a device test (Keyboard, GPS, RF, Audio (Handset,headset,bluetooth, Misc)

Robpassel's list is awesome! As a regular addict, I thought I knew most of the shortcuts, but you gave me a whole lot more to remember!
I especially liked 'buyers remorse'!!

ALT-THMN - Change to no theme (B&W)
That's command doesn't seem to be working for me on my Curve 8520. Is there any solution or alternative way for me to do this on my Curve?

I had to bookmark this page lol,to many good tricks/tips,when i get on my ps3,i will save screen shots of each tip/trick section and store the pics in my blackberry (just in case i forget how to do some)

I believe there is a small correction regarding the numerical signal value.

The value it displays I believe is signal to noise ratio.
It displays -xx decibals.
Lower value is a better quality signal. -60 db is excellent while --100 would be poor.

Great article, I also love these hidden shortcuts!

I agree. Actually, the higher value (-60 is greater than -100) means a stronger signal. Quality of that signal does depend on signal strength, but not entirely. As a note 0 dB (Decibels) is 1 Watt. -60 dB is 1 uW (or 1x10^-6 Watts), etc.

I'm running OS6 on a 9650... I see the numeric signal indicator, but directly below it is a 2nd one. Is that GPS signal, or something?

For those who want a special type of letter for example the "ñ" in spanish or a letter like this "á".

While typing just hold the letter you want to change and scroll with the trackpad.

These are pretty trivial on any of the BlackBerry Storm or Storm2 devices. Not sure they all work, I know I've done tried some shortcuts or hidden tricks, but the amount of time trying becomes quite a bit frustrating. Oh and I think you need to add quick key replacement for the keyboard to show on homescreen.

Great List robpasell!

A few short cut I always love using are kind of like the Ctrl+V=Paste and Ctrl+C=Copy

Highlight Text = Press the Shift key + Scroll Left or Right w/ TrackPad/TrackBall
Copy Highlighted Text = ALT + Press TrackPad/TrackBall
Paste Text in the Clipboard = Shift + Press TrackPad/TrackBall

Equivalent to End and Home:

In a text field, Alt + Scroll Left or Right w/ Trackpad/Trackball will bring you to the beginning or end of a text line

Shift + Alt + Scroll Left or Right w/ TrackPad/TrackBall will select entire text line, then scroll up and it will select the next line up sroll down and will will select the next line down. This is a quick way of selecting long text, instead of having to select one character at a time. :)

Sorry Storm users not sure how it would really work w/o physical keyboard

Oh great! I just tried the T for top and B for bottom and now I can't find where I left off.

I agree totally about the WOW moment when I discover an attribute I didn't know was there.

About a year ago I set out to really try to get to know my 9700, and I'm sure that some of you will appreciate this ..... I am still finding different ways to do things, and new shortcuts .... WOW!

lol i was trying to do the switch program one but ended up discovering that alt enter locks my torch

hi i'm mark i have a problem in my blackberry in hte screen show reloadsoftware hoe can fix that by my own...

plsss help me.....first time blackberry user..