BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 – Exploring the Messages app

HOW-TO / 03.08.12 / tywill1

One of the new features available in BlackBerry® PlayBook™ OS 2.0 is the new Messages app, which is designed to allow you to manage communications on your BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet. In addition to adding your email accounts, you also have the ability to add social networking accounts, which will then be displayed within a single unified inbox.

Today I’d like to provide an overview of the Messages app, as well answer some commonly-asked questions so you can get the most out of your BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 experience!

The Messages app

The first time you launch the Messages app, if you haven’t configured any accounts, a prompt will appear with a “Set Up Now” option. Tap this option to be taken to the Accounts setting screen where you can add a new account, such as your personal email address(es) or a Facebook® social networking account. For assistance with adding a new account, check out my post on Getting Started with Email, Contacts and Calendar in BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0.

After successfully adding one or more accounts, open the Messages app again and you’ll see the following interface with your messages:

Starting with this interface, you have several options to manage messages, as well as search for and compose new emails.

Searching for a Particular Message

If you haven’t used this feature yet, you’ll find the built-in filters and type-ahead search options are quite powerful and allow you to quickly find the message you are looking for. After tapping on the “Search” icon, simply enter the search term and / or use one of the filters to narrow down your search criteria. The various filters you can select from include “Subject”, “Unread”, “Attachments”, “Flagged”, “Received”, “Today”, “Yesterday” and “Last Week”.

You’ll also notice that when using the search feature, the message you were viewing before tapping “Search” will be used as a search term, allowing you to search for more messages from the same person or sent by a specific person. Another nice feature: When you are typing a search term, options to search for messages based on your search term will be displayed as per the following screenshot.

Composing Emails and Social Networking messages

On top of receiving emails, let’s talk about sending emails and messages through your social networking accounts!

To compose a new email on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, you can tap the Compose Email icon at the bottom left of the screen or swipe down from the top bezel at anytime to select “Compose Email”. You will then be shown the message editor, which allows you to compose vibrant (rich text) emails with the aid of the Format toolbar. To disable this toolbar, you can tap on the “Format Toolbar” button that appears on the right (in the red box below). You also have the ability to use the “Importance” setting to set a message to High, Normal or Low importance (also shown below).

To attach a file to your message, tap on the “Add Attachments” button that appears above the “Format Toolbar” button to browse for a file you’d like to include with your email.

To send a message using a social networking account, use the “Show social message compose buttons” option (in the red box) followed by selecting which network you’d like to use to send a message. If you do not have any social networking accounts set up on your tablet, this option will not be displayed.

Messages Options

To access the menu options in the Messages app, swipe down from the top bezel and select one of the options below.

  • Messages – If you are composing a new email and want to return to the Messages list, tap this icon.
  • Compose Email – Tap this option to start composing a new email. You have the ability to compose several messages at the same time; just swipe down and tap on the Compose Email option again to initiate another message.
  • Sort – View your messages sorted by Date, Sender or Subject.
  • Select – To select more than one message at a time, tap “Select”, then tap on the “select message individually” option or use two fingers to select multiple messages. You can then flag the messages for filing, mark them as read or unread, delete them or file them into a subfolder in your mailbox.
  • Settings – Tap this option to access the Messages Settings, which allows you to configure Display and Actions as well as Email Preferences. For more details on the settings available, scroll down to the next section.
  • Help – Learn more about the Messages app using the built-in Help app.

Message Settings Explained

As mentioned earlier, to modify your Messages settings, swipe down from the top bezel while using the Messages app followed by selecting “Settings”. Within this menu you have the following options to help personalize your Messages experience.

Display and Actions – Message List

  • Display As – When viewing messages, you have the ability to view them as single messages or have the Messages app put your messages into a Conversations view, which allows you manage email threads much easier. I personally love this feature since I use this setting on my BlackBerry smartphone as well. To learn how to use this setting on your smartphone, check out this post on how to group messages by subject on your BlackBerry smartphone.
  • Hide Filed Messages – Messages that are filed will be hidden but you can still view them in the specific subfolder they are filed in.
  • Hide Sent Messages – Self-explanatory 🙂
  • Confirm Delete – Prevent the accidental deletion of email by having a confirmation appear when you delete an email.
  • Download Images by Default – When viewing emails with embedded images, toggle this setting to have them displayed automatically.

Display and Actions – Alerts

  • Display Message Count – If set, the message count will appear on the Home screen status bar.
  • Display New Message Indicator – Similar to the above, toggle this setting to have the new message indicator appear on the Home screen status bar.

Email Preferences

  • Easily change your email signature by tapping on “Email Preferences” followed by selecting which email account you’d like to customize.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I mark all previous emails as “read”?
A: You will need to select them first using the “Select” option followed by tapping on the “Mark Read” button that appears in the top right corner of the screen. Depending on what type of server setup your email account is configured to use, you may have the option of marking the messages as read in your mailbox on the server which will then reconcile these changes to the tablet.

Q: How do I view subfolders within my mailbox?
A: To view subfolders, tap the “Switch Accounts” icon (in the red box), then select the account you’d like to view. A folder icon will appear (in the purple box). Tap on the folder icon to view the list of subfolders you can choose from.

Q: How many emails can I compose at the same time and are they saved if I close and re-open the Messages app?
A: You can compose up to 10 messages at the same time. To make sure messages you are composing are saved, before closing the Messages app, tap on the “Cancel” button (in the red box below) and select Save. After doing this, the next time you open the Messages app, the message you saved will appear as a draft in your messages list. Open this draft message and you’ll have the option to tap “Edit” which will allow you to continue drafting your email.

Q: How do I change what email account a message is sent from?

A: By default, any new emails will be sent using the address specified as the Default Account. To change what Default Account is used, complete the steps below.

1. On the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet Home screen, swipe down from the top bezel to access the tablet settings menu
2. Select “Accounts” followed by tapping on “Default Accounts”
3. Specify your desired default Email and Calendar account

You also have the option of changing which email account is used when composing a new email. Scroll to the top of your message and using the “From” field, select which email account should be used to send the message from the “From” field.

Q: Can I BCC someone when composing an email?
A: By default the BCC field is hidden, so if you want to BCC someone, swipe down from the top bezel while composing an email and select “Add BCC”, which will add the BCC field to your email.

Q: Can I disable the word prediction and suggestions feature that appears when composing emails (in the red box below)?

A: Yes. To turn off the word prediction and suggestions feature, you’ll need to open the Keyboard settings using the steps below.

1. On the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet Home screen, swipe down from the top bezel to access the tablet settings menu.
2. Select “Keyboard”, then switch the “Show predictions and suggestions” option to the “Off” position.

Want to learn more about BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0? Check out the User Guide or watch some of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 How-To Demos to find out more!

Got a question about BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0? Leave a comment and let me know!

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