In Part 1 of this series, we looked at very basic skills of holding the Storm, and touching and clicking the screen. Through a simple typing drill, we hopefully found our “feel” for typing on the Storm. Real-world typing requires a few more skills that we need to master, including:
- Switching between letters, numbers, and symbols
- Capitalizing, typing alternate characters
- Detecting and correcting spelling errors
In Part 1, I promised to revisit how you can set your Left and Right Convenience Keys in a way that you might find helpful. You may already have preferences for these settings that work better for you, but I still want to share what I find useful:
- Left Convenience Key: Application Switcher
- Right Convenience Key: Virtual Keyboard (or more descriptively, Keyboard Show/Hide)
To change the convenience key settings, do Options > Screen/Keyboard.
The left convenience key setting is something I recommend for all BlackBerry models, and not just typing convenience. By default, it is set to Voice Dialing. The problem with that setting is that it’s so easy to accidentally trigger it when you’re handling the phone.
Another reason I recommend this setting is this: When typing on a BlackBerry, you are likely composing a message or a document to send to one of your contacts. When doing that, it is common that you might need to frequently visit another application (”app”) to temporarily switch to another message or document, a web page, your Address Book, etc. to get some information you need for the message you’re composing. The Application Switcher lets you do that (switch to an app already open, or switch to the Home Screen to open any app you need).
The animation below shows how the convenience key can be used to show/hide the Application Switcher.
The right convenience key recommendation to Show/Hide Keyboard is definitely intended for the convenience of typing. As you may have learned already, the keyboard sometimes pops up at times the BlackBerry “thinks” you need it. Usually, it’s correct; sometimes it’s not. When the keyboard is shown, you can’t see but a fraction of the screen, so sometimes you want to hide the keyboard for better visibility. And when you’re ready to get back to typing, you’re a single button push away from regaining the keyboard. (Yes, sometimes there is an icon on the screen that requires only one click, but other times you have to use the Menu key, which is slower.)
The animation below shows how the convenience key can be used to show/hide the Virtual Keyboard.
Now might be a good time to refer back to Part 1 of this tutorial series to try out the convenience key settings to see if you find them as useful as I do.
Keyboard Modes: Letters, Numbers, Symbols
The keyboard has three modes. In Letters mode, you get the full-QWERTY keyboard. In the Numbers (activated by the !?123 key) mode, you get digits and several punctuation marks and special characters. In Symbols (activated by the sym key) mode, you get a number of special characters.
The animation below shows the three keyboard modes.
You can lock the keyboard in Numbers mode (NumLock) by clicking and holding the !?123 key. Note the small lock icon that appears at the top left corner of the key. Clicking the key again releases the lock.
You can lock the Letters keyboard in Upper Case (CapsLock) by clicking and holding the aA^ key.
Capitalization, Upper Case
A letter can by capitalized by first pressing the shift (aA^) key then the letter key. Or, simply by clicking and holding down the letter key until it is automatically capitalized (as illustrated in the animated screenshot below)
Some letters have alternate characters. Touch (don’t click) and hold the touch on a key. If the letter has alternate characters (not all do), a list of them will appear for you to select from.
End Sentence with a Period using Space
A quick way to end a sentence is to click the Space key twice. This will generate a period and a space to separate sentences. This is a must-know trick–learn it!
Inevitably, we all make spelling errors and need to know how the Storm can help us with that.
First, you must know that the Storm has two built-in dictionaries:
- A standard (and permanent) dictionary
- A custom (and editable) dictionary
While you are typing, the Storm is monitoring your spelling and trying to help you. If it thinks you are about to commit a spelling error, it will warn you with a suggested correction that you can accept or ignore. In the animation below, I mistakenly type screem instead of screen. The Storm spell-checker (after consulting its two dictionaries) suggests the correct spelling, and I click the suggestion to accept it:
Spelling errors are indicated by a word being underlined with a dashed line. If you click the word (don’t try to touch/select it–just click right on the word), the Storm will suggest all words it “thinks” could be correct choices:
Be aware that the Storm can be set to auto-correct (default option), and it may occasionally “backfire” and cause problems. You will have to decide for yourself which Spell Check options (under Options > Spell Check) you want:
If the spell checker overrides your spelling and changes it, simply click Backspace and your original spelling will be restored.
The Custom Dictionary comes empty when your Storm is new. Over time, you’ll want to add words to it. The animation below shows an especially difficult-to-type word being added to the dictionary:
In the animation above, the spell-checker did not recognize the word, so suggested a couple of spellings. Instead, I pressed the Menu key and selected Add To Dictionary. The Custom Dictionary is found by doing Options > Spell Check.
Whether you need to correct errors or simply want to revise your text, you need to know how to move the cursor around inside the message you’re typing.
You’re going to like this trick!
In the animation below, there is a misspelling of the word brown as briwn. Note that initially the cursor is a solid blue-filled rectangle. You can touch the screen somewhere and hold the touch for a moment. After a brief delay, the rectangle changes from solid blue to empty (no color fill). Don’t lift your finger yet! The empty rectangle indicates that the cursor can be dragged by sliding your finger across the screen.
In the animation…
- The cursor is dragged down then to the right (you can drag along any path you wish)
- The finger is lifted (the rectangle returns to having a blue fill)
- The keyboard is brought up (by you–using convenience key, icon, or Menu key)
- The backspace key is used to delete the “i”
- The “o” key is clicked to correct the misspelling
In Part 2 of this tutorial..
- You learned some options on how to set your convenience keys that might help during typing.
- You learned about keyboard modes: letters, numbers, and symbols.
- You learned about keyboard locks.
- You learned an easy way to capitalize, end sentences with a period, and type alternate characters.
- You learned how to correct spelling errors, and to move the cursor around to make changes to your message.
There’s still more to learn, but you’re making great progress.
- BlackBerry Storm Tutorial: Typing, Part 1
- BlackBerry Storm Tutorial: Typing, Part 3 (coming soon)