Entering "Last Name" From a BlackBerry


416taxicab250pxHave you ever called into a business’s directory from a BlackBerry and been asked to enter the person’s last name? But BlackBerry has a QWERTY keyboard and the Automated Attendant is looking to see 2 for “A, B or C”, 3 for “D, E or F”, etc.

Have you tried to “dial” a phone number represented by a vanity name from a BlackBerry, such as 1-800-BLK-BRRY or 416-TAXICAB (a service available in the Greater Toronto Area to automatically call a taxi). But RIM doesn’t expect users whose mobile smartphone has a QWERTY keyboard to remember that 416-TAXICAB really means to dial 416-829-4222.

In investigating the use of a service that spiders a business’s automated attendant as the subject of a future post, I learned that there is a simple way to address the problem on any BlackBerry with a full QWERTY keyboard: Simply hold down either the “Alt” key or the “right-Shift” key and type the letter.

In other words, for 416-TAXICAB, enter the phone application, type “416” then hold down Alt or right-Shift while typing “TAXICAB”. For 1-800-BLK-BRRY, enter the phone application, type”1800″, then hold down Alt or right-Shift while typing “BLKBRRY” from the QWERTY keyboard.

When entering a “Last Name” into a business’s Automated Attendant’s directory search, hold down either key and type in the name, for example: SMITH. Basically holding down either of these keys maps the appropriate key to generation of the appropriate touch tone that the Automated Attendant is expecting.

If initiating a phone call, the characters appear on the Phone Application screen. When typing while connected to an Automated Attendant, you’ll see the letters appear on the lower left of the phone call screen.

This will obviously work on any of the BlackBerry 83xx, 87xx, 88xx, Bold or Storm (landscape mode) with a full QWERTY keyboard. On the Pearl 81xx, Pearl 8220 or Storm (portrait mode) with a SureType keyboard hold down the Alt (up/down arrow at the lower left) key and press once or twice on the character key to get the appropriate letter.

One hint: when making an entry that requires the “#” or “*” characters, just type “#” or “*”. (Holding down the Alt or right-Shift key will give you a “Q” or “A”.) If you add the phone number as a Contact into your Address Book from the phone log, the characters are retained in the Contact entry.

More details here.



Thank you, Jim! I’ve resorted to the same technique as Shai in the past and that is hardly efficient, and sometimes not possible. I’ve used the phone for much longer than a few days and I would hardly call it basic information that one just learns automatically, as Jeff suggests.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Shai Berger

Jim, thanks for the tip! I’ve been stumped by this one before. Last time I need to Dial-by-name, I hunted down an “old style” phone keypad to “translate”.


for this basic blackberry info i did not need a post. if you’ve used the phone for anything more than a few days, you already know this. thanks

Comments are closed.