How BlackBerry Messenger Works

Getting Started with BlackBerry Messenger

BlackBerry Messenger allows users to communicate with others remotely.
BlackBerry Messenger allows users to communicate with others remotely.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

BlackBerry Messenger doesn't require much set-up, particularly as it comes preloaded on newer models. With an older BlackBerry model, you'll have to do a BlackBerry Messenger download. No matter what, here's what you'll need to use BlackBerry Messenger:

  • A Java-based BlackBerry
  • A BlackBerry Internet plan, or data plan, so you can send and receive PIN messages through Research in Motion's servers
  • Your PIN code -- to find it, go to "Options," then "Status" and finally "PIN"
  • Blackberry Messenger software -- if it's not already on your BlackBerry, use your BlackBerry browser or Internet Explorer to go to and download it. If you plan to install the BlackBerry Messenger program via your computer, you need BlackBerry Device Software v 3.6 or higher. If you're installing from your BlackBerry, you'll need BlackBerry Device Software v 3.7 or higher and at least 16 MB of flash memory.

With the software installed, you're ready to log on. The first time, you'll be asked to pick a display name to identify yourself while IMing and to create a password. Once you do that, you'll be logged automatically into BlackBerry Messenger whenever your device is connected to your wireless network. Once you build your contact list, you can send and receive messages.

Adding Contacts

BlackBerry Messenger's contact list shows your individual contacts and contact groups. Before you can IM with someone, you have to invite him to join your contact list and request permission to exchange messages. You can do this with existing contacts in your BlackBerry address book by following these steps:

  1. Bring up the menu for BlackBerry Messenger.
  2. Select "Add a Contact," which'll take you to your address book.
  3. Click on the contact name you want to add, and select "Request."

Contacts who aren't in your BlackBerry address book also need to be added there. Here's how to send those contacts invitations:

  1. Open BlackBerry Messenger and use the trackwheel to go to the Contact List screen.
  2. Click "Add a Contact," which takes you to your address book.
  3. Scroll to the top of the list, and highlight "Use Once."
  4. Click "Request by E-mail or PIN."
  5. Type an e-mail address or PIN code, and press "Enter."
  6. Add a message, and click "OK" twice.

Once the contact accepts your invitation, he'll be added automatically to your contact list. Invitations that contacts send to you will appear on the Contact List screen. To accept a request, select it, click the trackwheel, and then click "Open" and "Accept." To deny the request, use the same process but click "Decline" instead of "Accept."

Sending and Receving Messages

To send an IM, click a contact's name on the Contact List. Then click "Start Conversation" and type your message. Finish by clicking the Enter key.

To join an existing conversation, go to the Contact List and click on a contact in the Existing Conversations list. Then click "Open Conversation."

To add contacts to a conversation or start a conference, click on the trackwheel during a conversation. Then click on "Invite" to invite more contacts to participate.

To end a conversation, click on the trackwheel during the conversation and then click "End Conversation."

Once you've mastered the basics, you're ready to explore more advanced functions of BlackBerry Messenger like managing contacts and groups or setting your availability status and alerts. Let's look next at some functions that make IMing fast and easy.