Shortcut keys

On BlackBerry® devices with a physical keyboard, shortcut keys provide users with direct access to common actions for a specific screen. For example, users can use shortcut keys to compose an email message or add a bookmark in the browser. Users can also use shortcut keys to access buttons in a dialog box. Some users rely on shortcut keys to perform some tasks without opening the menu and to move around the screen quickly.

Menu items do not have shortcut keys assigned to them. After users open the menu, they can press the key for the first letter of a menu item to highlight the menu item. To initiate the action associated with a highlighted menu item, users press the Enter key or click the trackpad. If multiple menu items have the same first letter, users can continue pressing the key for the letter until they highlight the menu item that they want.

As you create an application or add features to an application, think about the most common actions for each screen. Add shortcut keys where appropriate.

Best practice: Implementing shortcut keys

  • Assign and document shortcut keys for common actions. For example, on BlackBerry® devices with a full, physical keyboard, users can press "T" to move to the top of a list. Users can press "B" to move to the bottom of a list.
  • Use shortcuts keys to increase efficiency for users, but not as a primary means for users to interact with your application. Users should be able to access all available actions from the menu.
  • Localize shortcut keys where possible for the French, Italian, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Czech, and Polish languages. Use English shortcut keys for all other languages.
  • In dialog boxes, assign shortcut keys to all buttons.
  • In wizards, do not assign shortcut keys to buttons.
  • Avoid creating shortcut keys for destructive actions, actions that cannot be undone easily, or actions for which the consequences might be unclear.

Guidelines for choosing shortcut keys

  • Use different shortcut keys for full keyboards and reduced keyboards. For example, to move to the top of a web page, users can press one of the following letters:
    • "T" on full keyboards
    • "1" on 20-key reduced keyboards
    • "2" on 14-key reduced keyboards
  • For screens, use the first or most memorable character in an action for the shortcut key. For example, in a message list, the shortcut key "R" represents "Reply" and the shortcut key "F" represents "Forward."
  • In dialog boxes, use the first character in the button label as the shortcut key.
  • For similar actions, use the same shortcut keys that are available in other applications . This approach creates consistency for users.
  • Verify that custom shortcut keys do not overlap with existing reserved shortcut keys. For more information about existing shortcut keys, visit http://na.blackberry.com/eng/support/docs/ to see the product documentation.
  • Avoid assigning different actions to well-known shortcut keys.
Next topic: Strategies
Previous topic: Typing indicators

Was this information helpful? Send us your comments.