We've rounded our five favourite BlackBerry shortcuts - so good you'll wonder how you ever coped without them.

There's no doubt that a BlackBerry phones are amazing devices that go a long way to making life that little bit simpler.

However, it's not always the case that user guides or surfing Google will throw up tips and tricks that make using your Blackberry even simpler.

Fear not, we've rounded our five favourite shortcuts that are so good you'll wonder how you ever coped without them.

Get the latest BlackBerry news and opinion at PC Advisor's dedicated BlackBerry News Spotlight

Navigating message threads

Heavy BlackBerry users know the pain of trying to catch up on an email thread with multiple responses. You may have received the first response an hour ago, the second and third 15 minutes later and a fourth and fifth could have landed in your inbox just as you get to the first.

Without a shortcut, you have to sift through the tons of messages that arrived in between the thread's various components. A much simpler way is to open the first message and then hit the J key to jump to the next response, and so on. You can also return to an earlier message in the thread by hitting the K key. However, if the subject line of the thread has been modified, you may not be able to find all responses using this shortcut.

Bookmarking messages to return at a later time

Scenario: you're reading an important and long, message from the boss when you're called away from your device by a coworker or family member in need.

Have no fear, there's no need to scroll through paragraphs you already read when your return to the email if you use this shortcut. You can simply close the message, and when you're free again, just hit the G key after reopening it, and you'll be brought to the exact spot where you stopped reading.

Using multiple message signatures via AutoText

There are clear benefits to using a BlackBerry email signature, but if you're like us, you probably don't want to use the same signature all the time and there are likely instances in which you'd rather use no signature at all.

Switching back and forth between signatures, or occasionally deleting one, can mean using different email inboxes and accounts with separate signatures (or even repeatedly going into your BlackBerry Desktop Manager if you're on a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) or BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) account) to make the necessary changes. That's a lot of legwork.

We suggest using pre-programmed AutoText entries to call up different email signatures.

To do so, first delete the current signature you're using via the desktop manager software or your wireless carrier's website if you use BIS. Then click the Options icon on your BlackBerry home screen, choose AutoText, and then hit your Menu button.

Select New from the options list and then fill in the Replace field with an easy to remember command, such as 'ZZ' or 'XX', and the With field with an email signature. You can use this method to create as many different signatures as you'd like by typing different commands into the Replace fields.

Note: when using the new AutoText command, make sure you hit Space after you type your AutoText 'ZZ + Space', for instance or the message may not correctly display your signature.

NEXT PAGE: Accessing default BlackBerry apps with a single click from the Home Screen

  1. Make your Blackberry work harder
  2. Accessing default BlackBerry apps with a single click from the Home Screen
  3. Programming Application Switcher as a convenience key

Related articles:

We love our BlackBerry – its gone a long way to making our lives that little bit simpler. And with our latest round up of tips and tricks, we guarantee it'll be even quicker and easier to use.

Dialing alphanumeric phone numbers on a full qwerty BlackBerry keyboard

Ever tried dialing a phone number with letters, instead of all numerals, using your BlackBerry's qwerty keyboard? If so, you've almost certainly experienced the frustration of being unable to key in the letters you want as part of your number, unless, of course, you already know this shortcut.

It's simple really. Just type the numerals as you normally would and then hold the ALT key while dialing the letters, and you're good to go.

Get the latest BlackBerry news and opinion at PC Advisor's dedicated BlackBerry News Spotlight

Access default BlackBerry apps with a single click from Home Screen

Many folks use their BlackBerry smartphones for messaging and web surfing more often than they employ phone features. If you fall into this category, you probably want to disable your Dial From Home Screen option so you can access a variety of helpful Home Screen shortcuts.

To do so, click your Phone icon on the Home Screen or hit the green phone button on your device. Then press your Menu key, pick Options, then General Options and change the Dial From Home Screen field from Yes to No. Finally, hit the Escape key and choose to save your changes.

Now you'll need to hit your Phone icon or click the green phone button to dial a number and place a call, but you'll have access to all of the following shortcuts from your Home Screen via a single click of the corresponding letter key:

  • WAP Browser - W
  • Alarm - R
  • Tasks - T
  • Calculator - U
  • Options - O
  • Address Book - A
  • Search - S
  • Notes - D
  • Profiles - F
  • Help - H
  • Lock keypad - K
  • Calendar - L
  • Messages - M
  • Browser - B
  • BlackBerry Messenger - N
  • Saved messages - V
  • Compose – C

NEXT PAGE: Programming Application Switcher as a convenience key

  1. Make your Blackberry work harder
  2. Accessing default BlackBerry apps with a single click from the Home Screen
  3. Programming Application Switcher as a convenience key

Related articles:

We love our BlackBerry – its gone a long way to making our lives that little bit simpler. And with our latest round up of tips and tricks, we guarantee it'll be even quicker and easier to use.

Programming Application Switcher as a convenience key

The vast majority of BlackBerry devices have buttons on their side or sides that can be programmed by individual users to activate functions of the user's choosing. These buttons are commonly known as convenience keys.

The obvious choice for convenience keys are the applications that you use most frequently, but we found an even better use: Program one of your convenience keys to be your Application Switcher. The Application Switcher displays a taskbar or 'ribbon' with all of your active applications, so you can switch back and forth between programs without closing them out or ever returning to your Home Screen.

To set a convenience key to the Application Switcher, simply click your Options icon on the BlackBerry Home Screen, choose Screen/Keyboard and scroll down to the Convenience Key Opens field(s). Then open the corresponding dropdown menu and choose Application Switcher. Note: You can also access Application Switcher at any time by holding the ALT key and hitting Escape.

Get the latest BlackBerry news and opinion at PC Advisor's dedicated BlackBerry News Spotlight

Access Standby mode via mute key

If you don't employ a holster, pouch or other BlackBerry carrying solution that protects your device's keyboard when not in use, you're probably used to mistakenly dialing random numbers or sending the occasional accidental message.

Throwing an unprotected BlackBerry or other smartphone into a bag or slipping it into a pocket is just asking for trouble. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, you can deactivate your BlackBerry's keyboard and other buttons with a single click.

Mike Lazaridis, RIM's co-CEO, told us that this is the trick he recommends most frequently to BlackBerry users, because it's not only simple and remarkably valuable, it's also little-known. We knew the trick when Lazaridis recommended it, but we couldn't agree more that this one's worth remembering.

To put your BlackBerry into Standby Mode, just hold the Mute key found on the top of your BlackBerry for three seconds. Then you can toss your device in a pocket or purse without worrying about unintentional dialing or messaging. And to remove the device from standby, just tap the Mute key again briefly.

  1. Make your Blackberry work harder
  2. Accessing default BlackBerry apps with a single click from the Home Screen
  3. Programming Application Switcher as a convenience key

Related articles: