The holiday season brings many things to many people. For some it brings love and happiness. To others it brings family and togetherness. Somewhere in there it brings gifts, and where there are gifts there are nifty new gadgets. And so the holiday season brings new members to our BlackBerry community.
So, to all those visiting BBGeeks for the first time, welcome. We hope you find all of the BlackBerry information you need within these pages. We’ve even made this post just for you.
We’ll go through the basics of your BlackBerry, letting you know what to do and what to install.
Initial BIS setup
My father became a BlackBerry owner late last year, so I’m taking a bit from his experience to discuss the initial setup process. Sometimes a sales associate will guide you through creating your BIS account and adding an email address. Other times, as in the case of my father, they won’t be as helpful. I wasn’t around when he bought his BlackBerry, so I couldn’t tell him to not leave the store without creating a BIS account.
Alas… If you didn’t get BIS login information when you bought your BlackBerry, or didn’t receive the information along with your gift, the first step is to go to your carrier’s BIS login page.
There you’ll see an option to create a new account. Click on that. Agree to the Legal Terms and Conditions and you’ll come to a screen where you’re prompted to enter in your device PIN and your ESN/MEID number. Here’s how you find your BlackBerry PIN and IMEI. If you get a message that says a device has already been set up for this PIN, be prepared to get stuck in customer service hell.
Yes, you’ll have to call up your carrier’s customer service number and find someone who can give you your BlackBerry login information. Otherwise, fill out the information on the ensuing screen, and you’ll create your BIS account.
Setting up your email
Now that you have your BIS account in order, it’s time to add an email address or two. Thankfully, this process is rather simple. For the most part, you can follow the setup instructions for Yahoo! Mail on your BlackBerry. That will work for most personal email accounts.
Some services, Gmail specifically, will offer IMAP syncing, which you might find more attractive. You can find Gmails’ IMAP instructions here. From there, you’re set to go. Of course, most users won’t want to stop there. I can understand. I initially thought I’d be using my BlackBerry just for email, but after realizing what the device can do, I got hooked. So we’ll go into some essentials you can add to your BlackBerry.
But first, a note of importance.
Chances are, you’re going to have a number of questions even after you set up your BIS account and your email accounts. Don’t worry. That’s why we provide multiple BlackBerry quick tips each week. You can browse through that archive, which contains answers to tons of little issues.
For now, though, we’ll go through the most important ones.
How to install a memory card. Just a quick walk-through for first time memory card users. Which microSD cards will work with your BlackBerry? This is a quick reference table so you know the maximum size memory card you can use with your BlackBerry. You can find your operating system version by clicking on Options and then clicking About.
The OS will be the first thing listed under the device model. Compose messages quickly on your BlackBerry. Memorize these quick tips and you’ll be able to write and send messages in half the time. BlackBerry home screen shortcuts.
You’ll have to turn off home-screen dialing to activate these shortcuts, so some might find it inconvenient. Still, it’s worth a look if you’re a productivity nut. BlackBerry browser shortcut keys. You can streamline your browsing experience with these shortcuts. Set your convenience key.
The button or buttons on the side of your BlackBerry can be set to perform a number of functions. Set it so it’s optimized for your usage. What is a service book? What is a host routing table? You don’t need to know the technical definition to understand that these can help you out with many BlackBerry issues.
What is OTA? Over the air, usually in reference to downloads. This is just a quick explanation of what this means for your BlackBerry. How to change the default email on your BlackBerry. When you compose emails your Berry uses one address by default. Change that address with this process.
How to clean up your BlackBerry application menu. Every email address you add to your Berry will have its own icon for new and archived messages. If you prefer to use the consolidated message application, you can hide these icons to save space.
And, of course: How to solve any BlackBerry problem. A battery pull can cure what’s ailing your device.
Changing your theme
The aesthetics of your BlackBerry might not matter. Then again, they might. Some people get sick of staring at the same theme every day. Thankfully, it’s super easy to change things up. To start things off, check out our quick guide to changing your BlackBerry theme.
Once you know how to do that, you can get yourself a new theme. My recommendation is to start with free BlackBerry themes. This will familiarize you with the various theme types (L, Today, Zen, etc.). Once you decide which type you like best, you can progress to the premium themes. These usually go for under $10, and for the most part are well worth the investment.
You can find more BlackBerry themes here. We review six themes a month, so there are always new ones to choose from.
Installing essential applications
The first thing you’ll want to do, software-wise, if you have a PC is to install BlackBerry Desktop Software. This will be your home base, if you will, when you have your Berry connected to your PC. If you have a Mac, you don’t have the advantage of Desktop Manager, which is a shame.
Instead we’re stuck with PocketMac or Missing Sync. While both are decent alternatives, they just don’t provide the level of service PC users get with Desktop Manager. As for device software, it’s a pretty subjective call here.
I’ve talked before about what essential applications I keep on my BlackBerry, but what’s important to me might not be important to you. However, there are a few apps I can safely recommend on a more universal basis.
Google Maps for BlackBerry. This is superior to the factory-installed BlackBerry Maps, especially if you have a carrier that doesn’t cripple your GPS. NextPimp. So many people dig real MP3 ringtones that I can’t help but point this out. Great free service.
A visual voicemail application. Your carrier’s voicemail is just no fun. These four services provide a better alternative. Pocket Express. This is a great mobile portal for your BlackBerry, allowing you to access news and other information in seconds.
I also highly recommend Yahoo! Go.
Free BlackBerry games. We’ve got over 170 of them, so give it a look. The best in BlackBerry applications. Tons of stuff you can get here for no money. We took this for another spin, so here’s part 2.
I really hope this provides a comprehensive yet not overwhelming guide for new BlackBerry users. As you can tell, I get really into helping beginners. If this is too much, let me know in the comments and I’ll do a pared down version. Looking back, it’s a ton of information to digest.