Five Tip Friday – Five tips for organizing and customizing your BlackBerry 7 OS smartphone

Here’s a question for you, #TeamBlackBerry — have you ever lost an icon? It seems comical at first, but with the growing amount of apps and games in the BlackBerry App World™ storefront, they can start to add up on your Home screen. But not to worry — BlackBerry® 7 OS is jam-packed with features to help you customize and organize your Home screen so you can find your apps, games, and media quickly.

Today I’m going to share some tips that I myself use to keep the flow going on my BlackBerry® smartphone — meet me after the break to get started.

Before we begin, there are a few things you should know how to do if you don’t already:

  • Hiding an Icon – From the Home screen or from within a folder, highlight the icon, then press the Menu key and select “Hide”.
  • Un-hiding an Icon – From the Home screen, press the Menu key and select “Show All”. Find the hidden icon — you can tell which icons are hidden because they are the color gray. Highlight the icon and press the Menu key, then select “√Hide”.
  • Navigating between panels – Highlight the panel name (for example, “All” or “Downloads”) and then press left or right on the trackpad. If you have a touchscreen device, you also have the option of simply swiping left or right to move to the next panel.

1. Use the Frequent Panel

If you have already done some customization of your Home screen, then you know that you can hide unused panels. Something I’ve noticed among my friends and family is that they always have the Frequent panel hidden — that is, until I point out how amazing it is.

If you have hidden this panel, complete the steps below to unhide it so you can start taking advantage of fast access to commonly-used apps, games and more:

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu key and select “Manage Panels”
  2. Check the box next to “Frequent”
  3. Press the menu key and select “Save”.

Now navigate to the Frequent panel and look at the icon in the top left corner — recognize it? You should,because it’s the app that you use the most. Now look at the icon to the right of it – again, is it an app you use constantly? Yep! Now you know why I love this panel.

2. Create Custom Folders

Besides the default themed folders, Media, Instant Messaging, Applications, and Games, you can create your own. Here’s how to do it:

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu key and select “Add Folder”
  2. Type a name for the folder and select an icon for it
  3. Select “Add”.


On my device I have a folder called “Sports” in which I keep apps I’ve downloaded to keep me up to date on my favorite teams.

3. Make use of the Messages app

Did you know that you can have up to ten email addresses integrated with your BlackBerry smartphone through the BlackBerry® Internet Service? Most of us – myself included – don’t have that many, but imagine you did, and then imagine what your Home screen would look like on your BlackBerry smartphone if you had an icon for each one. What’s the solution? The Messages app!

Tip: Need help integrating an email address? Read our blog post on how to set up email accounts in BlackBerry 7.

The Messages app allows you to view multiple email accounts at the same time using the “Inbox Management” setting. To view this setting on your smartphone and determine what email accounts are visible when using the Messages app, complete the following steps:

  1. Select “Messages” from the Home screen or from within a folder
  2. Press the Menu key and select “Options”
  3. Select “Inbox Management”.

Here you will see a list of all the email addresses you have integrated with your device. Check the box next to an email address to have that account delivered to the Messages app. The messages from an unchecked email account will not be shown within the Messages app.

You can then hide (or move into a folder) the icons for the email addresses you choose to have delivered to the Messages app, thereby creating more free space on your Home screen.

Bonus: Did you notice that you can also have your Text Messages delivered to the Messages app? Follow the steps above and place a check in the box next to “Text Messages”. It will be in the section below Email Accounts called Other Message Types.

4. Use Social Feeds

Here’s a tip that has the potential to remove up to six icons from your Home screen — use the Social Feeds app. BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™), Facebook®, Google® Talk, Twitter®, Windows® Live Messenger, and Yahoo!® Messenger can all be managed in this one app, allowing you to move their respective icons into a folder or hide them from view. It’s similar to the Messages app except it handles all of your social networking instead of email.

If you are new to the Social Feeds app, I suggest checking out Ty’s post on how to use Social Feeds 2.0, and if you want to take your Social Feeds experience to the next level, read another of Ty’s posts from Five Tip Friday – Five reasons you should consider using Social Feeds.

5. Use Shortcuts

Through the menu option “Add to Home screen”, you can create a bookmark that appears as an icon on your Home screen. There are all sorts of items on your BlackBerry 7 OS smartphone that can be added to the Home screen for quick access — here’s the list:

  • Songs
  • Playlists
  • Videos
  • Pictures
  • Voice notes
  • Files (.pdf for example)
  • Contacts
  • BBM contacts
  • And of course, Browser Bookmarks!

To add one of these items to the Home screen, simply press the Menu key while one of these items is highlighted and select “Add to Home screen”. You also have the choice of which folder you would like it to be added to and also whether you want it marked as a favorite.

If you would like to remove a bookmark icon, highlight it, press the Menu key, and select “Delete”.

How do you organize your BlackBerry 7 OS smartphone’s Home screen? Leave a comment and let us know!

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