One of the greatest features of the BlackBerry is its ability to detect common errors in your typing and automatically correct them. This has long been a feature of many computer word processors, though the reasons for the mistakes are a bit different. On a computer, I find that most errors stem from my fingers moving too fast, causing two letters to appear out of sequence. The most common of which is “the,” which routinely appears “teh” before I go back and correct it. On a BlackBerry, though, errors occur for a few different reasons. The first is hitting the wrong key. I can’t count the number of times I’ve hit S instead of A, U instead of I, and so on. The second is with apostrophes, since it’s a pain to hit Alt+K every time you want to form a contraction. Thankfully, the BlackBerry has an editable AutoText engine which you can use to your advantage, allowing you to avoid many of these mistakes.
Adding common mistakes to AutoText
AutoText comes default with dozens of common typing mistakes, though some do not apply to the BlackBerry. As I said in the intro, I don’t find myself typing “teh” very often, if at all, on my BlackBerry, while on my computer I end up typing it that way more often than I type it correctly. Yet there are different kinds of mistakes one can make on a BlackBerry. The best way to go about this is to deal without AutoText for a while and determine which errors you make most commonly. To add new entries to AutoText, go to Options and then, of course, AutoText. Hit the Menu button, and select New. From there you can enter the term you want to replace, what you want to replace it with, and how you want to go about the replacement — SmartCase is suggested in most instances. Click in the trackball, save it up, and now you’ll have one common error eliminated from your typing.
Removing annoying AutoText entries
AutoText is great for adding apostrophes. Most contractions appear in the AutoText library, with the non-contracted version (e.g., didnt) automatically adding the apostrophe (didn’t). For the most part, you’ll never have to hit Alt+K again. Well, except in certain instances where the contraction isn’t in the library, or when you’re forming a possessive. There’s another reason you’d hit Alt+K: when you have to delete the AutoText entry. This isn’t very common, but it’s still something that bugs me. While I don’t use the word “wont” often, it is still a word, and a good one at that. Ray scarfed down a bag of jelly beans today, as is his wont. Chien-Ming Wang gave up nine runs the other day, as he is wont to do this season. Out of the box, your BlackBerry discriminates against this word. It also discriminates against calling an instant message an IM, as it will auto-correct to I’m. And don’t dare talk about the id, for it will be corrected to I’d. For most people, this is fine and good. The AutoText change isn’t a big deal; after all, who uses the word wont anyway? In case you’re among those who want to use wont and won’t take no for an answer, you can just delete the entry in AutoText. Just highlight the term and hit the Menu button. The choice there is obvious: Delete. Say yes to the prompt, and now you can talk Freud with your buddies over SMS.
Add a signature
You can also use AutoText to add a signature to your emails and SMS messages. True, you can always just change your auto signature, but what if you want different signatures going on different emails, depending on the recipient? You can accomplish this by editing existing AutoText entries or adding your own. The easiest way to accomplish this is to go find the “sig” entry. Edit the replace with field to reflect the signature you want to appear. The next time you type “sig” at the end of an SMS or email, your custom signature will appear. You can create multiple signatures by adding new entries to AutoText. For example, the letters K and T rarely appear adjacently. So you could create a new entry for “kt” and have it automatically change to a different signature. You can do this for anything, really — if you’re a literary type, perhaps you want a macro for “onomatopoeia.” Just set up a string of infrequently-used letters and bam, there’s your long string reduced to a short one.
Not only can AutoText create signatures for you, but it can also make inserting your phone number, among other things, into emails much easier. The BlackBerry is pretty much idiot-proof in that it displays your phone number when you make a call. No longer is the excuse “I don’t call myself” valid when someone tells you they don’t know their number. However, this doesn’t make it any less of a pain to type your number into an email or SMS. You still have to hold down the Alt key while hitting the numerals. However, if you just type in the string “mynumber” without quotes, your number will miraculously appear in the email or SMS. Other useful strings include “myver” which pastes your model number with your OS version, as pictured in the screen shot. To send your PIN to a friend, just type “mypin” and it will convert (this has made life much easier for me). Typing “lt” brings up the time, and “ld” brings up the date. You can also use some to bring up other characters which require the Alt key: “br” opens parenthesis, and “rb” closes them. You can add even more if you wish. For instance, I’m sure plenty would find it useful to have a shortcut for the $ sign. There is so much you can do with AutoText. Used properly, it can expedite your BlackBerry typing experience. You can perform all sorts of functions without having to hit so many keys. Test it out and see how it can work for you. In the meantime, how many have a fine-tuned AutoText machine on their devices?