Making The Most Of Buttons and Shortcuts
I was sharing Treo tips and tricks with a friend last week when she told me how she was having difficulties understanding the many button configurations. I didn’t immediately understand what she meant as overall I have found the buttons on my Treo to be extremely intuitive but I nonetheless decided to take a closer look.
The first issue had to do with ‘waking up’ her Treo. To my surprise I realized that there are actually four distinct buttons that you can use for this and each will wake up your Treo slightly differently. From right to left on your (Treo 650) keyboard:
- Red Call End button: pressing it will wake your screen to the last used program
- Messaging button: pressing it will wake your screen directly to the Messaging or other user assigned application (go to Prefs > Buttons)
- Calendar button: pressing it will wake your screen directly to the Calendar or other user assigned application (go to Prefs > Buttons)
- Green Call Answer button: pressing it will wake your screen in the Phone application
The functions associated with the above four buttons are pretty straightforward – a single press is required for ‘something’ to happen. However there are many more and somewhat less obvious ones as well.
Aside from the ‘single button press’ there are two other modes (see image right) that can be used to initiate an action. The first is ‘Press + Hold’ in which case you press a particular button for a few seconds to launch an application for example. The second is ‘Option Key+’ in which case you consecutively press the Option key followed by another key or button (two default Option+ keys are ‘P’ to control the screen brightness and the Global Find magnifying glass key at the bottom left of the keyboard).
The default ‘Buttons’ preferences allows you to customize the Calendar and Messaging button so that you can assign any application to it. You can further customize the Calendar, Message and Call Answer buttons with the ‘Option Key+’ that I described above to quickly launch three more applications of your choice. Additionally, you can also assign one application to the side button which will work with ‘Press + Hold’. Combined you can thus launch 7 applications with just 4 buttons.
Next, the Phone screen allows you to build Favorites buttons by assigning any single keyboard key (a Quick Key) to launch your choice of Call Log, Dial Pad, Contacts, Application, Speed Dial, Message, Email or Web Link. For example, I assigned a Quick Key with the letter ‘L’ to launch ListPro which opens by simply Press + Hold that letter for a few seconds. The only drawback is that favourites can only be launched from within the Phone screen but luckily (as always) there are third party applications that can help.
I personally use two programs called Central and McPhling to provide me with additional button customization and launch options.
Among others, Central provides me with the options (image above) to select:
- ‘Launch Favorites Anywhere’ (instead of just in the Phone screen) and with this I can be in literally any application then Press + Hold the ‘L’ key and up pops my ListPro – you can thus launch up to 26 Favorites anywhere you want
- ‘Extended Side Button’ (the large up/down volume control button on the side) so that when I am in any application that requires scrolling (such as the browser) you can use these buttons to move up or down the page
- ‘Beam Business Card’ which provides a Quick Key option (I chose ‘B’) to quickly beam the business card from your Treo (something which is not supported as standard)
- ‘Show Command Bar’ which many earlier Palm users have missed and which can be made accessible by Press + Hold the Menu button.
McPhling for its part provides me with two further levels of customization for any of the main navigation buttons or the 5Way. The first allows me to launch an overlapping screen (which I use all the time) with a list of 10 of my favourite and most frequently used applications (image right) by simply pressing or Press+Hold a designated key (I chose the Calendar Hard Key 2). The second allows you to chose a key or combination of keys to ‘Go Back’ to the last application that you were using.
There are other applications aside from Central and McPhling that offer very similar functionality but these two are simply the ones that have worked best for me.
Overall, if like me and most Treonauts you spend an inordinate amount of time working/playing with your Treo you will undoubtedly find that optimizing the keys and shortcuts will help you to get things done that much faster.
Treonauts are always looking to optimize things…