by Al Sacco

BlackBerry Tips & Tricks: “Menu” as App Switcher, Free Up Convenience Key

May 29, 2009 2 mins
Mobile Small and Medium Business

You can now use your BlackBerry's Menu key to bring up the Application Switcher function in OS 4.6, 4.7 and 5.0.

One of the BlackBerry features I use most frequently is the built-in Application Switcher function, which lets you hop back and forth between open programs without navigating through multiple screens or repeatedly clicking your track ball. Until recently, I assigned the App Switcher to one of my BlackBerry Bold’s side convenience keys for easy access. But thanks to a somewhat recent tweak to Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry OS, your Menu key can now be used to raise the App Switcher, freeing up a valuable convenience key–assuming you’re running the appropriate device software.

screen shot of BlackBerry Application Switcher in action
BlackBerry Application Switcher

Last year, I sat down with RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, and his number two tip for BlackBerry power users was to set a convenience key as the App Switcher. (Check out “BlackBerry Keyboard Shortcuts for Power Users,” for his number one suggestion.) As such, Lazaridis will probably appreciate this added feature.

I first noticed the OS tweak last winter when RIM sent me a BlackBerry Storm 9530 from Verizon Wireless for review, so it’s not exactly new. That device was running when it arrived, and though I upgraded the Storm OS multiple times before returning the handheld, every version of OS 4.7 I used had the new Menu-as-App-Switcher feature.

And RIM appears to have wisely decided the function should be built into all new OS software–or at least most of it–because recent unofficial BlackBerry Bold 9000 OS versions now let you employ Menu as an App Switcher as well. In fact, I’m running a very early version of BlackBerry OS 5.0 on my Curve 8900 (, and it too has the functionality.

To bring up the App Switcher using Menu–which is found directly to the left of your trackball, with the BlackBerry “seven-dot” logo–simply depress the key for roughly two seconds or until the App Switcher appears on screen. You can then scroll from program to program and select the desired one by highlighting it and clicking your trackball.

Note: While I’ve seen this feature in various versions of BlackBerry OS v4.6 for the Bold and Curve 8900, it doesn’t appear to be in all of them. For example, OS for the 8900 does not have the functionality, and I believe it only started showing up in Bold software around v4.6.0.247.


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