by Al Sacco

RIM BlackBerry How To: Use BlackBerry Desktop Manager to Load, Update, or Remove Software

Aug 19, 20086 mins
Computers and PeripheralsConsumer ElectronicsData Center

Unsure of how to load new applications on your BlackBerry using Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry Desktop Manager software instead of over the air? Check out this step by step guide.

The seemingly never-ending supply of great software applications, themes and games available for your BlackBerry won’t do you a whole lot of good if you don’t know how to install them. This BlackBerry Tip of the Week details how to use the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software that Research In Motion (RIM) ships with all new BlackBerry devices to install new programs, as well as update those apps already on your smartphone.

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We’ve already covered some of the basics of BlackBerry Desktop Manager in past tips, including how to use the program to backup and restore handheld data, add media files to your BlackBerry and determine the amount of memory you’re using at any given time.

Many applications, games and other BlackBerry software can be downloaded over the air (OTA) directly to your device, but in some cases you’ll need to use BlackBerry Desktop Manager, a PC and a compatible USB connector cord when OTA downloads aren’t available; unfortunately Mac users are out of luck, as Desktop Manager’s only for PCs.

BlackBerry users without unlimited data plans can also save on their monthly data usage by downloading apps to their PCs and then transferring them to BlackBerrys.

Pick Up Latest Version of RIM BlackBerry Desktop Manager

Before you start updating or installing new applications on your BlackBerry, you’ll want to ensure that you’re running the latest version of BlackBerry Desktop Manager. If you don’t already have the software on your PC, you can pick it up from the download section of RIM’s website.

image of BlackBerry Desktop Manager About screen

If you’ve got Desktop Manager but are unsure of the version you’re using, open the program, click the Help icon and choose About BlackBerry Desktop Manager. A dialogue box will appear to tell you which version you’re running. Next, surf over on over to RIM’s download page, verify you’ve got the latest version of the software and download and install it if not.

  On to Updating Apps With Desktop Manager >>

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Updating BlackBerry Applications Via RIM Desktop Manager Depending on when you first downloaded and installed the existing applications on your BlackBerry smartphone, or when they were installed before your device was shipped, there may be updates available. If you’re using the latest version of BlackBerry Desktop Manager–at the time that this article was written, the latest version available on RIM’s site is 4.5–the software will automatically search for updates as soon as you open the program and connect your device. If you want to search for updates manually, simply open the Application Loader component of Desktop Manager and on the right side of the following screen, beneath the words “Update Applications,” click Start. The program will then check your BlackBerry for device configuration and attempt to locate any updates. If any are available, they’ll be listed on the following screen. To install the updates, click the Next box and follow the directions. The update process can take a while, so don’t fret if it’s been 10 minutes or so and nothing appears to be happening. (Note: Desktop Manager may not find available updates to third-party applications, so the best way to ensure that all of your apps are update is to occasionally check the software vendors’ websites.)

On to Installing Apps With Desktop Manager >>

Installing New BlackBerry Software Using RIM Desktop Manager

As mentioned above, you’ll need your BlackBerry, an Internet-connected PC and a compatible USB charging cable to install new mobile software using RIM’s Desktop Manager.

To start, you should download and save the new software you wish to install on your BlackBerry to your PC’s hard drive. The application, be it a game, theme or otherwise, will likely come in a “zipped,” or archived, file, so you’ll need to unpack its contents using a program like BitZipper or WinRAR, both of which are available for free trial. Save the contents of the zipped file in another folder on your hard drive. Within the new folder, you should see two different files, one with the extension “.cod” and another with an “.alx” extension. The zipped software may also include a text file with installation instruction or something of the like.

After unzipping your software, launch Desktop Manager and connect the BlackBerry to your PC using the USB cable. When Desktop Manager recognizes your device–the status bar at the bottom of the screen will say “Connected” and list your smartphone PIN–you should open the Application Loader . On the left side of the screen, beneath the words “Add/Remove Applications” click Start .

image of BlackBerry Desktop Manager Application Loader screen

After searching for your device configuration, Desktop Manager will then display a list of all the software currently on your BlackBerry. From there, you should click the Browse button, to locate the new software you wish to install. Navigate to the file with the unpacked contents of your zipped file, select the “.alx” file and choose Open . Then you’ll be returned to the screen that displays all the software on your device, but this time around, you’ll find the new software within that list. Make sure the checkbox next to the new software is filled, and then hit Next .

The following screen shows a list of the files being added or removed, and if the information is accurate, hit Finish and the installation process begins. Again, don’t worry if it seems to be taking a long time and Desktop Manager says only “Connecting to Device.” It can take a number of minutes to install the new software. When the process is done, a new screen will appear that says “Update Complete: The Loading Operation Was Successful.”

image of BlackBerry Desktop Manager Application Loader completion screen

Finally, you should launch the application, enter in an activation code, if necessary–purchased software often requires such an unlock code–and you’re all set.

  On to Removing Apps With Desktop Manager >>

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Removing BlackBerry Software With RIM Desktop Manager Getting rid of applications on your device using Desktop Manager is very similar to adding software. First, you’ll need to once again connect your device and PC via USB cable and then launch Desktop Manager. Open up the Application Loader , choose Add/Remove Applications and then scroll through the list of software until you find the ones you want to remove. Uncheck the boxes next to those applications and click Next . Again, you’ll see a list of the applications you’re about to remove. If the list is correct, hit Finish and say goodbye to the selected software. Be patient, though; like the application addition process, removal can take some time.

For lists of the best free BlackBerry applications that you can add to your device visit our BlackBerry Software Downloads page.

And if you find that your smartphone’s slowing down due to the number of new apps you’ve loaded, read our tips on how to free up BlackBerry memory.