Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How BlackBerry Messenger Works


BlackBerry Messenger Functions
Getting started with BlackBerry Messengers is easy for BlackBerry users. It simply requires PIN activation.
Getting started with BlackBerry Messengers is easy for BlackBerry users. It simply requires PIN activation.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With BlackBerry Messenger, it's easy to manage contacts, to indicate your availability, to "ping" a contact and to perform other functions. Here's how some of these work.

Managing Contacts

Perhaps you'd like to use BlackBerry Messenger to see a contact's information. All you need to do is go to the Contact List screen, click on the contact's name, and click "Contact Info."

Or maybe you'd like to remove an individual contact from your contact list. To do so, go to the Contact List screen, and click on the contact's name. After that, click on "Delete Contact" and then "Delete."

Beyond treating your contacts separately, BlackBerry Messenger lets you gather them into groups and then manage those groups. For example:

  • To add a group to the contact list, go to the Contact List screen and click "Add Group." Then type a name and click "OK."
  • To switch a contact from one group to another, click the contact's name on the Contact List and click "Move." Then select a group and click on it.
  • To remove a group, click the group's name on your Contact List. Then click "Delete Group" and "Delete." (Note that you can't remove the default Contacts group.)

Availability Status

Your availability status shows your contacts whether you want to exchange IMs (Available) or not (Unavailable) at any given time. BlackBerry Messenger will automatically change your status in some cases. It'll, for example, show a Busy icon if you're doing something else on your BlackBerry or if you have not responded to a message received in the past two minutes. An Unreachable icon will be shown if you're using the phone or in an area without enough wireless coverage.

But you can also change your own status and leave a message for contacts. To change your status, go to the Contact List screen, and click "Available" or "Unavailable." Type the message you want contacts to see when they IM you, and click "OK." If you choose "Unavailable," you'll still receive messages but you won't be notified when they arrive.

Notifications and Pings

You can use notifications to alert you of an incoming instant message by having your BlackBerry vibrate or emit a tone. You can set and change notifications in your BlackBerry Messenger profile. Go to the Profiles list, click on a profile, and click "Edit." Click on a notification option (like "Messenger -- New Message"), and click "Edit." Set the option you want (like "Vibrate-Tone") and set the desired volume; click the trackwheel, and click "Save."

Beyond your own settings, you can "ping" someone who isn't responding by making their BlackBerry vibrate when you send a message. Just click the trackwheel in BlackBerry Messenger, and click "Ping Contact." If you want to turn off the ping function on your own device, go to the Contact List screen, click "Options" and click on the box before "Clear the Vibrate When Receiving a Ping."

More Functions

Here are a few more functions to try:

  • Press the SYM key twice to see a selection of emoticons that you can use in your instant messages.
  • Select "View Calendar" to access your BlackBerry calendar without leaving BlackBerry Messenger.
  • Try "Copy History" to save a copy of your conversation. Once you hit "End Conversation," your chance to save the conversation is gone.

BlackBerry Messenger can keep you in touch with other BlackBerry users. But what if you want to exchange instant messages with other contacts? We'll look next at what your options are.


More to Explore