Blackberry Key2 tips and tricks

Get down to business with our Blackberry Key2 tips and tricks

blackberry key2 typing email
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Less than six months after TCL released the Blackberry Motion, the smartphone giant is back with its latest offering, the Blackberry Key2. Reminiscent of last year’s Blackberry KeyOne, the Key2 packs a physical keyboard as well as upgraded specs for 2018.

While the Key2 runs on Android 8.0 Oreo, its been heavily modified to include Blackberry’s suite of privacy and productivity apps. Here are a few of our favorite Blackberry Key2 tips and tricks to get you acquainted with your new smartphone.

How to use Blackberry Hub

Blackberry Hub acts a universal inbox for all of your communications. Text messages, emails, call logs, and even some messages from third-party apps are all sorted sequentially in Blackberry Hub. Setting up Blackberry Hub is easy: Simply tap on the hamburger menu icon in the app and tap the + icon next to accounts.

Once Blackberry Hub is set up you can customize it to display and prioritize certain accounts. To create a custom view, open Blackberry Hub and tap on the hamburger menu icon. Select Add View and enter a view name. Select your preferred radio boxes for accounts and filters.

If you want to identify messages from different accounts even quicker you can color text by account. Open Blackberry Hub and select the hamburger menu icon. Tap Settings > Text Messages > Account Color and select the desired text color. Repeat the same series of steps for each account.

How to use Privacy Shade

Want to keep wandering eyes from reading your display? BlackBerry’s Privacy Shade has you covered. Privacy Shade blocks out everything on your screen except for a small viewing area that you can move and adjust.

There are two ways to enable Privacy Shade. The first way is to add it to your Quick Settings drop-down menu. Use two fingers to swipe down from the top of the display and select the pencil icon on the bottom menu bar. Scroll down to the Drag to add tiles section and drag the Privacy Shade icon into the active Quick Settings menu area. You can now enable Privacy Shade by tapping on the corresponding icon in the Quick Settings menu.

If you’d prefer to use a gesture to enable Privacy Shade, go to Settings > Shortcuts & gestures and toggle on the option for Three-Finger Privacy Shade. You can now swipe down from the top of the display with three fingers to quickly turn on Privacy Shade.

Once you have Privacy Shade enabled, you can make adjustments to suit your needs. If you’d like a larger area of exposed text, simply double tap on the eye icon. For adjustments to shape and opacity, tap the overflow (three-dots) icon within the Privacy Shade. Finally, when you’re ready to exit the feature, just tap the arrow icon.

How to use the Redactor

In addition to Privacy Shade, Blackberry also offers a feature called Redactor. The feature allows you to quickly redact personal information from any website or document that displays on your screen.

The easiest way to access Redactor is from the Quick Settings menu. Simply use two fingers to swipe down from the top of the display and tap on the pencil icon. Go to Drag to add tiles and find the Redactor icon; simply drag the icon up to the active Quick Settings menu area to add. Now accessing Redactor is as easy as tapping on its icon from the Quick Settings menu.

Once Redactor mode is enabled you’ll see a new menu bar at the bottom of the screen. The leftmost finger icon allows you to change the size and shape of the redaction tool. The back arrow icon allows you to undo your most recent redaction, while the share icon lets you share your redacted document. The gear icon lets you watch a brief tutorial or add a persistent notification. The rightmost arrow icon exits out of Redactor.

How to map the Convenience Key

In addition to custom productivity software, the Blackberry Key2 also has a custom hardware feature to make your life easier. The Convenience Key, located below the power button, allows you to quickly access apps and functions on your Blackberry Key2 with the touch of a button.

There are several different profiles for the Convenience Key. To set up the default profile, go to Settings > Shortcuts & gestures and select Convenience key. Tap the Add new shortcut icon and select the appropriate app. Repeat this process until you have three apps selected. Once you have your Convenience Key apps selected you can tap the key from any screen to select from your chosen apps.

There are also three additional profiles that can be enabled: A car profile, meeting profile, and home profile. To enable each profile, tap on its icon and toggle on the corresponding slider. You can then add custom apps for each profile.

How to use Locker

blackberry key2 camera pp
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

One of our favorite Blackberry software features is an app called Locker. With Locker, you can easily store private information and apps in a secure area on your phone.

To use Locker, just tap on the Locker app. The first time you open Locker you’ll need to set up a password to access the app. Once open you can tap the icon to add photos, documents, and apps. Since Locker creates a separate instance of any app you add, the data associated with it will not be visible from the primary app. You can also use Firefox Focus inside Locker for a secure browsing session that blocks ads and other content that can track you online.

While you can take private photos directly from the Locker app, Blackberry also provides a shortcut that will let you store your images to Locker directly from the camera. Simply open the camera and tap the fingerprint sensor instead of the shutter button; your photo will be automatically moved to your private Google Photos folder in Locker.

How to conserve your battery with Power Center

Power Center allows you to customize how individual apps perform on the Blackberry Key2. You can select from one of three power saving modes: Performance, Balanced, and Energy saving. To add apps simply open the Power Center app and tap Apps and games. Tap the + icon, select the app you wish to use and toggle on the slider. From here you can select your chosen power saving mode.

In addition to setting power profiles for each app, Power Center also allows you to make changes to the OS that will save battery. From the Power Center app, you can turn off apps that open automatically in the background, dim the screen, turn off location mode, and shorten the length of time until your display turns off.

Finally, Power Center gives you the option to turn on battery saver automatically when your battery is running low. Open the Power Center app, select Turn on battery saver automatically > Change settings and toggle on the Battery saver slider.

How to use the Productivity Tab

While the Blackberry Key2 has dozens of special software features, the Productivity Tab is one of our favorites. Productivity Tab allows you to quickly access common Blackberry apps like the calendar, email, tasks, and contacts, as well as custom widgets by swiping on the home screen.

When you initially set up your phone, the Productivity Tab will automatically be enabled. However, you can make adjustments to it to fit your preferences. To customize the look of the Productivity Tab simply open the app and tap the gear icon to open the Settings menu. From here you can easily make adjustments to the placement, height, and opacity of the home screen icon.

If you want to customize the tabs in Productivity Tabs, open the app and tap the gear icon. Scroll down to Content Settings and select Choose your tabs or Reorder tabs. In Choose your tabs you can remove unwanted tabs or widgets, while Reorder tabs allows you to change tab order.

Finally, if you want to add a widget to your Productivity Tab just open the app and select the gear icon. Tap Choose your tabs and select one of the Widgets options. Return to the Main Productivity Tab menu and you will see a widgets tab below the other Blackberry tabs. Tap the widget icon followed by the plus key to add a widget.

How to add keyboard shortcuts

Sure the physical keyboard on the Blackberry Key2 makes typing long emails a pleasure, but did you know there are a ton of hidden features you can access directly from it? In fact, keyboard features are so robust on the Key2 that we’ve created an entire tips and tricks post just to cover them, but we’re going to show you how to set up keyboard shortcuts to get started.

There are two types of keyboard shortcuts. The first, the long press method, can only be used from the Home screen. To use this method, simply long press on the key you want to map and wait for the shortcuts menu to appear. Once the menu appears you can select from common tasks or tap the Open app icon to select a particular app.

In addition to long tap shortcuts, the Blackberry Key2 now has a Speed Key that allows you to open shortcuts from any screen. To map a shortcut with Speed Key, simply tap the Speed Key and chosen shortcut key at the same time and wait for the shortcuts menu to appear. Once it appears you can select from one of the common tasks or tap the Open app icon to map a particular app to the key.

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