Tips and Tricks Every webOS User Should Know!

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Since I first started this blog, we’ve covered a lot of ground:

… we’ve talked about the very basics of the Palm Pre.
… we’ve talked about some cool tricks for adding ringtones to your Pre or Pixi.
… we’ve talked about simple fixes that might prevent a trip to the repair shop or retailer.
… we’ve even talked about how to erase your webOS device when push came to shove.

My next goal is to turn you into a power webOS user! You can handle that, right? So let’s get started! This is my very first installment out of five in my “Tips and Tricks” series. Hopefully you will find these articles very helpful.  Some tips you probably know, while others are less well-known.
Read on after the break, where we cover system tricks and tips for using the launcher.

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SYSTEM:

Quick reset

1)  Quick Reset:

There’s different ways to make your Palm Pre reboot, but here’s a quick way:  press these three keys at the same time: ORANGE, SYM, and R! Boom.  Your Pre is now rebooting. (Better go make yourself a sandwich. This doesn’t make it actually boot faster! Just an easier way to do it.)

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Screen capture

2)  Take a screen snapshot:

Here’s a cool trick! (Even the Motorola Droid can’t do this.) All you need to do? PressORANGE, SYM, and P at the same time.  In your pictures app, you will find a new folder was created, called “Screen captures.”

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3)  Easily wake up device:

When I first got my Pre, I would always try waking it up with the power button.  When the slider was open, this presented a challenge as the button is hard to access.  I discovered I could wake up my Pre by pushing any key on the keyboard.  I default to the spacebar.

When the slider is closed, the easiest way to wake the device?  OPEN the slider!  It skips the “slide to unlock” step.

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4) Turn your phone into a FLASH DRIVE!

You no longer have to carry around that dorky flash drive tethered to a shoelace around your neck! Just connect your webOS device to your computer and select “USB Drive” from the options.  You will now be able to access your phone’s files directly. This is great for quick transfer of files, music, videos… you name it.

This came in really handy for me: one day, I was in an area with no wifi and I had to send a file to my boss from my laptop. Using my quick “McGruber” thinking, I connected my Pre to my laptop in USB mode, transferred the file to my phone, and then sent the phone using Sprint’s network.  It took me all of thirty seconds.

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Courtesy of Precentral.net

5)  View active card information:

Want to know extensive details about a particular app you are using?  There’s a way to do that. While in an open card, just hit ORANGE, SYM, and I.  Detailed information will pop up in the upper left hand corner, as pictured.  If you do this in card view, detailed information will pop up in the launcher. Repeat the keystrokes to switch it off. Is it useful for the average user? Nah, not really. Just nerdy fun. Sorta.

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6) Want a better signal? Open the slider!

Quick anatomy lesson of the Palm Pre:  the wifi and network radios are in the keypad portion (not the top) of the phone!  So, opening the slider works much like extending an antenna. Whether I’m talking or web browsing, I almost always have the slider open on my Palm Pre to maximize the signal.  I think you’ll find a noticeable difference. I’m always on my wife about this, who for some reason has the habit of chatting with the slider closed.

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6)  Advanced Gestures

Here’s a cool trick… Normally, to switch from card to card, you have to zoom out into card view and flick your cards around. With Advanced Gestures activated, you can directly slide between apps by dragging your finger across the full length of the gesture area.  This is particularly useful for copying something in one card (say, email) and pasting in another, like SMS or Twitter.  I leave it on all the time.  In order to activate this…
a. Go to “Screen and Lock”
b. Find where it says “Advanced Gestures”
c. And turn ON “Switch applications.”

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7) Force Reset:Force reset

In the rare event that your Palm Pre crashes and your screen becomes unresponsive, you can force it to do a soft  reset (a basic reboot). Just follow the directions in the picture. Then go make a sandwich.

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LAUNCHER:

1) UNIVERSAL SEARCH!

Your launcher does more for you than just show off your cute app icons. It’s actually a powerful search engine built into your phone.  The folks at Palm were the pioneers in this feature, beating Android and even the famous iPhone to the punch. So…  Here’s a hot tip for beginners: learn to use Universal Search… all the time! I can’t stress that enough. It will really speed up everything you do. Seriously. If I catch any of you flipping through your contacts or opening the browser to do a Wikipedia search, I’m gonna slap you upside the head! Below is a video on how this works.

But wait! There’s more!

Palm recently baked some extra keyboard shortcuts into Universal Search:

  • Typing “store” takes you to the App Catalog
  • Typing “pic” takes you to Photos
  • Typing “sms” or “text” takes you to Messaging
  • Typing “time” takes you to Clock and Date & Time
  • Typing “add” (as in address) takes you to Contacts
  • Typing “todo” takes you to Tasks
  • Typing “eve” (as in events) takes you to Calendar
  • Typing “note” takes you to Memos
  • Typing “net” takes you to Wi-fi settings

Update: For those asking, no… you cannot use universal search for calendars, tasks, or e-mails.  However, emails CAN be searched within the email app, and there is a FREE app called Google Calendar Search that allows you to search your Google calendars. It’s slick and easy to use.

2)  Change your Quick Launch icons:

Your Quick Launch icons are for the apps that you use the most  frequently. Or, you could do what I do: leave the apps you Quick launchuse most frequently open as a card… then you have four more options quickly available to you in the Quick Launch bar! How do you customize it? Like this:
a. Open your launcher
b. Tap and hold an icon in the Quick Launch bar. It will light up.
c. Drag it to wherever you want in your launcher
d. Drag an icon from the launcher to the Quick Launch bar.  You’re done!

3) View app info or delete an app:

Easy.  Open your launcher, then hold down the orange button on your keyboard, and tap the icon of an app.  This will allow you to see the app version, its developer, and file size.  You will also be given the option to delete the application.

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PHONE:

1) Useful phone codes!
Recond status
a. Find out if your phone is refurbished
Type ##786# in your phone app, and you’ll see the picture  on the right pop up. Look where it says “Recond status.” If the answer is “no,” then your Pre is new, not refurbished. If it says “yes,” look above at the “Recond date.” That tells you when your Pre or Pixi was refurbished.

b. Get a GPS Fix
Type ##477# in your phone app and you will be presented with a dialogue that says “Get GPS Fix.” Tap it, and you will get the following info: latitude and longitude, speed, elevation, and GSP accuracy.  I’ve read in some forums that if the GPS in your webOS device does not seem to be working well, this may fix the issue.

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c. Force your phone into broadband or 1x speed
Typing ##3836# in your phone app gives you the option to force your phone into EVDO (broadband) or 1xRTT (“slow” … think Edge for AT&T).  Most phones will be in “Hyprid Rev A” by default, which means the phone automatically detects when a broadband signal is available. Make sure to take note which default setting is on your particular device! You can always switch back to it if needed.

  • EVDO only: For those who live in an area without EVDO coverage, life can really suck when trying to do anything data-intensive, like browsing or tethering. Switching to “EVDO only” can give you broadband data speeds!Bad news: you lose voice calling. So make sure to switch back when you are done.
  • 1xRTT only: So why the heck would you wanna select a slower speed?  Easy:  conserving battery life.  Broadband connections (even when not actively in use) consume battery life much faster than 1x.  So, if you don’t plan to use your phone or are in an area of poor reception, you might want to consider switching to 1x.  You can always switch back to your default.
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2) Erratic phone signal? (SPRINT ONLY)
Try this. Open the menu in the phone app. Tap Preferences.  The picture on the left will pop up.  First, tap “Update Network Settings.” This will make your Pre lock in to the nearest cell tower for optimal signal. After you do this, tap “Update PRL.” This makes sure your phone is up to date with your provider’s preferred Roaming list.  I check this maybe once a month or so. (You also don’t necessarily have to do these things in the same order as in the picture, it’s just the habit that I’ve gotten into.)

Another thing: in this pic, Data Roaming is turned off: if you are roaming, you’ll be able to use your phone for voice only.  Mine is usually on. If you have Sprint, no worries: you can use voice and data roaming pretty much all you want (up to 5gb data.)

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3) Dialing Shortcuts!
Work in a hospital or office and you wish you could just dial the extension instead of the WHOLE NUMBER? You can. Many phones have this feature, but I didn’t realize the Pre/Pixi had it until I discovered it recently by accident. In Phone prefs, just tap “Add New Number” where it says “Dialing Shortcuts.” Pretty sweet.

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4)  Maximize your phone’s signal: open the slider!
Most people don’t know this, but the Palm Pre’s phone radios are located in the bottomportion of the phone, where the keypad is located.  So, sliding the phone open effectively acts like extending an antenna! To optimize your signal, especially in an area where it is weak, make sure to keep your slider open.  (Same goes for wifi and data, by the way.)

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5)  Ignore call and send caller to voicemail:
Tap the power button twice to send an incoming call to voicemail.  It’s that simple. 🙂

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5)  Mute ringer WITHOUT sending caller to voicemail:
While the phone is ringing, tap the power button or one of the volume keys once. Ringer will stop and caller will go to voicemail after four full rings.

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CONTACTS:

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contacts_2010-28-01_002444

1) Send your contacts places:

a. Send contacts to car via Bluetooth. If you own a car that allows for hands-free Bluetooth  calling, you can export your phonebook to the car via Bluetooth. If you want to send all of your contacts in one go, just tap the menu in the upper right hand corner of the main contacts screen and select “Send All To Car Kit.”  If you’d rather send just a few contacts, select the contact you want to send, open menu –> Send Contact –> Send To Car Kit.

b. Send contacts to Launcher. If you want instant access to a contact, tap “Add to Launcher” and it will do just that. No need to use Universal Search or open your contacts anymore. Just open your launcher and there’s your contact.

messaging_2010-30-01_132546

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c. Send contacts to someone else via MMS or email. You can send an individual contact as a .vcf file to someone else via email or MMS, as shown on the left.  Anyone with a phone able to read .vcf files (like webOS phones) will be able to see your contact information as though it was included in their contacts. To add it in their phonebook, all they’d have to do is tap “Add Contact.” This is a great tool for sending your personal business card, like old Palm phones used to do.

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2) Add Contact Reminders:
This is an especially handy tool. If you have an important  message or question for a contact, you can enter a reminder on your webOS device. The next time you and the contact are in touch (by phone call, email, or text message/IM) the reminder pops up as a notification! Kinda cool, huh?  The quickest way to do this is to type the contact’s name and find them via Universal Search. At the very bottom, you will see a selection that says “Add Reminder.”Away you go!

(No I don’t really know the Hollywood actress Shannon Elizabeth… but she does happen to own a Palm Pre Plus, in case you didn’t know!)

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3)  Set speed dials:
Every single letter key on your webOS device can be programmed as a speed dial.  That’s 25 options, when you take away the “E” key, which is taken up for voicemail.  All you have to do is tap the menu button when you are displaying a contact.  This makes dialing a whole lot easier. 🙂

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4)  Back up your contacts to your computer:
People are understandably nervous about trusting their contacts to “the cloud.”  Former owners of Palm OS devices have complained that they no longer can “Hot Sync” their contacts to their computers.  Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get a local backup of your contacts.  I won’t go into all of them here (Chapura Echo, The Missing Sync, etc. are available in the App Catalog), but I do want you to be aware that, if backing up your contacts (as well as memos, calendars, etc) is what you want, there is a way to do it rather easily.
Take Google for example, which is the main “cloud” to which I sync my contacts and calendars.  To save a copy of my contacts, all I need to do is:

a. Log in to Gmail

b. Click on “Contacts” in the left column

c. Click on “Export” in the upper right hand corner of the resulting screen. (see below)

You’ll have several file types to choose from, and Google explains them all to you.  Should any catastrophic event occur and Google (or Palm) loses your contacts, you can import these contacts into your Google account and sync them right back to your webOS device.  See?  easy!

For those wanting to sync their Palm Profile, Outlook, and Facebook contacts, there are options. Unfortunately, there is no one way to do this right now.  But there’s good news:  word from Palm is that there will be, in their words, “full phonebook transfer” capabilities added with the next 1.4 webOS update, which launches this month.  In the meantime:
  • For Palm Profile:  Try the 3rd party app Echo for Palm by Chapura. (Syncs with Palm Desktop!)
  • For Outlook: Try PocketMirror for Microsoft Outlook by Chapura.
  • For BOTH Palm Profile and Outlook:  Try CL USB Sync by CompanionLink Software.
  • For Mac Address Book:  Try The Missing Sync by Markspace.
  • For Facebook:  There’s no formal sync option but this article shows you how to sync these contacts with Google so you can then sync them to your computer. (Thanks, @jjshore)

Again, Palm has indicated that “full phonebook transfer” (whatever that means) is coming with webOS 1.4 … so if you’re not desperate to sync this information just yet, I’d wait.

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E-MAIL:

1) “All Flagged” Folder

email_2010-01-02_210043
This is a really cool feature that a surprising number of people don’t know about.  Certain messages are more  important to me than others, and that’s why I “flag” them, so I don’t lose them in the flood of emails I get every day.  Not only Palm has conveniently incorporated an“All Inboxes” folder in the email app for viewing multiple email accounts all in one folder, they’ve also included an “All Flagged” folder, which lets you see all your important messages from all accounts.  This has been an indispensable tool for me.  I thought everybody knew about it, but when I recently showed my cousin that she could do it with her Pre after owning if for six months, I figured I’d let you know about it, just in case.

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2)  Gesture Area shortcuts!


Just as we use the gesture area to cut, copy, and paste, we also use this for really cool shortcuts in the e-mail app.  These consist of holding one finger on the gesture area and one finger to tap a letter key.  These shortcuts apply to both reading and writing of emails…

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email_2010-01-02_202134a. READING an email:

Gesture area + K = “Mar(K) as unread”

Gesture area + G = “Set Fla(G)”

Gesture area + M = “(M)ove to Folder”

Gesture Area + S = “(S)how Recipients”

Note: You can also access these commands via the menu (as shown) if you don’t want to use the keyboard.

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email_2010-01-02_202158
b. WRITING an email:

Gesture area + J = “Set As High Priority”

Gesture area + D = “(D)iscard Message”

Gesture area + S = “(S)ave as Draft”

Note: You can also access these commands via the menu (as shown) if you don’t want to use the keyboard.

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3)  Type Using Italics and Bold face!

Yes, you can type in bold, italics, or both when typing an email.

Here’s how:

SYM + B = bold … (It will want to type ~. Delete and resume typing.)

SYM + I = Italics … (It will want to type í. Delete and resume typing.)

SYM + B, then SYM + I = both … (Yes, it will type ~ and í also.)

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4)  Delete whole words at a time

Here’s a quick way to delete a bunch of mistakes:  hold down the “Shift” key and press backspace.  You’ll delete that entire word.  Make sure there’s a space in between the word in front of it. Sometimes it deletes that word, too. I make plenty of mistakes. I use this feature pretty darn frequently.

5)  Check email less often to save battery life!


In Palm’s words from their website:

“How much power checking email uses depends on a number of variables, including the type of account, how many email messages you receive a day, and whether you are downloading a lot of attachments. These guidelines may help you:

  • Using an Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) account that is set to receive email as it arrives is generally efficient. However, if you receive many email messages each day, you may be able to reduce power consumption by using an interval such as every 15 minutes or longer.
  • Using a web-based email account that is set to receive email as it arrives is not as efficient as using an EAS account. This is true even if you are not receiving a lot of emails. You can reduce battery consumption by using an interval such as every 15 minutes or longer on web-based accounts.”

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MESSAGING:

smilies


1) Emoticons!

It amazes me how many times I’ll send a text to a fellow webOS user, and they ask me “how did you do that smiley?”  … So for your viewing pleasure, I joined together the screenshots of ALL the emoticons available for webOS.  Learn ‘em.  You’re welcome. Go nuts.

2) Change the alert sound for texts

Many users are a little sick of the alert sound the Pre and Pixi make. I don’t really blame ‘em.  Palm has made this easy enough to do:  just open the menu and select “Preferences & Accounts.”  There, you will be able to select from System Alert, Ringtone, or just mute texts altogether.  You can even shut off text notifications entirely if necessary.

3)  Quickly find a conversation

Since I’m such a popular guy (*chuckle*), I text a lot of people.  Finding a conversation you’ve had with a person can be a pain if you text a whole bunch of people in a day.  The solution? Just start typing the recipient’s name.  In the example pictured on the right, I wanted to find the conversation I was having with my friend Ericka. So, I just typed “e” and boom, there she was!  Now I can read the conversation we had or text her again.

(Of course, another method of quickly finding someone to text is using Universal Search.  Just type someone’s name and their numbers will pop up, with a tiny “SMS” button.)

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4) Forward texts

fwd texts
The Pre did not come with this capability originally, so some users still think it doesn’t exist. Well, it does! And it’s easy: just tap the particular part of the message you want to forward. A menu will pop up. You should be able to figure out the rest… 😉

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5) Copy ENTIRE conversations

Copy entire SMS conversations
You’ve already seen that you can copy the text of individual parts of conversations (look at the picture in #4 reeeeeal hard), but what about ENTIRE conversations? This option is tucked away in the “Edit” menu in messaging, so it’s not obvious to everyone. If you want to copy ALL the text of a particular conversation, just go to the conversation you wish to copy, open the menu (upper left), tap “Edit,” and then tap “Copy All.” Bing! You’re done. Paste the text into a memo or an email.

6)  Delete WHOLE WORDS at a time

Yeah I know I already mentioned this in e-mail, but it applies to texting, too.  Just hold down the “Shift” key and press backspace.  …  Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. 😉
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7)  Delete parts or a whole conversation

By swiping from left to right, you can delete parts of a conversation, or entire conversations. Totally up to you.  (Note: Rarely, some people have had problems with future conversations displaying properly when deleting conversations.  This has happened a whole lot less since Palm fixed this bug, but I’ve read the occasional complaint.  If this happens to you, it’s really no big deal. Just check out my simple fixes article on how to deal with it and you’ll be just fine.)

8)  Log off IM to save battery life!

buddies
We all know the Pre’s Achilles’ heel is battery life.  Unfortunately, being continuously connected to the web for Instant Messaging eats up battery life like crazy (this is particularly true of AIM).

This tip should be obvious to most of you.  Tap where it  says “Buddies” on the upper right hand corner of the messaging app.  (Why it says “buddies” and not “IM” is beyond me.) Then, tap the green button where it says “Available.”  Your options will be “busy” and “Sign Off.”  Tap “Sign Off.” Bear in mind that even if you have your account set to “Busy,” you are still online, and battery is draining.
Don’t have an IM account? Just open the menu and set one up. 🙂

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CALENDAR:

Having used the iPhone calendar and the calendar on my wife’s (former) HTC Hero, I can say with confidence that Palm’s calendar remains the best mobile calendar to date. There’s missing features and occasional bugs here and there (I’m looking right at you, Outlook), but overall? You won’t find a better calendar. Palm has made great improvements to make it faster, more powerful, and easier to use. (Getting off soap box) … Okay, let’s dive into it:

1) Google Calendar. Use it. Love it.

Some people are more than content to use the Palm Profile as their sole calendar. That’s fine. But remember, this calendar is made to handle all facets of our life: business, personal, sports… and it does it very well. I’m a big fan of Google calendar.  It’s easy to use, updates quickly.  I won’t go into how to use it, but if you have a Gmail account, youalready have a Google Calendar account.  All you need to do is activate it.  The next time you log in to Gmail, look at the upper left-hand side of the page.  You’ll see “Gmail, Calendar, Documents…”  Click on Calendar and away you go.
What if I use another calendar like Outlook or iCal for Mac?
You can import all your info into Google Calendar from these accounts, if you like.  My wife did that with iCal and it works great for her.  If you want to learn how to sync iCal to Google, click here.If you’d rather not mess with all that and would rather sync your iCal directly, check out The Missing Sync by Markspace.  If you prefer to sync Outlook calendars, try Pocket Mirror for Microsoft Outlook by Chapura.  (Note:  these both cost $$$.)
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2)  Quickly delete an event

Want to delete an event you just entered?  Hold down the orange key and tap the event.  That’s all there is to it.
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3)  COMPRESS your calendar into one view

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Here’s a fun trick I learned a while back on jkontherun.com. You can compact your daily calendar by “tricking” the Pre’s “accordian effect” to scrunch your daily view into one easy-to-see view.  Here’s how:
a. Create a “Start Day” event from 12:05 am – 12:10 am every day
b. Make it recur daily.
c. Create an “End Day” event from 11:50 pm – 11:55 pm every day.
d. Make it recur daily.
You’re done!  Your Pre/Pixi will compress your all your free time so appointments will stand out with far less scrolling, as shown. (Thanks, @jjshore!)
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WEB BROWSER:

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1) To access the URL, scroll ALL the way to the top

Many people ask me how they can copy a URL from a browser.  There’s several ways to do that.  If you’re ON the page that you want to copy, just scroll ALL the way to the top of the page. When you do that, the URL will pop down.  Just tap the top bar once and you will see the web address highlighted in yellow.  All that’s left is copy and paste!  🙂

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2)  Copy a URL from a link


Well, what if you want to copy a link?  That’s easy, too.  Just hold down the ORANGE button on the Pre (it’s gray on the Verizon Pre) and tap the link.  You’ll get the menu as shown in the picture.  Just choose what you want.

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browser_2010-04-02_211710

3)  Download a picture from a web page


Apply what you just learned with copying URLs from links, and do the same thing with pictures!  When you do, you will see the menu as shown in the picture on the right.  You’ll notice that you can even share photos directly from a webpage.

By the way, you can share entire web pages by tapping the main menu (upper left corner) in any webpage and tapping “Share.”  This will send you directly to the e-mail app, so you can send someone a direct link to that webpage.

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4)  Copy text in a web page

There’s a way to copy text from a web page, though I admit it’s a little… janky. You can only copy whole paragraphs of text at a time, rather than just one word. Hopefully Palm will refine this, but until then, this is how you do it. Hold the “Shift” key and tap the text you want to copy. If you want to copy several paragraphs, scroll down (still holding the shift key) and tap the bottom paragraph. You should see a bunch of text highlighted. After that, just copy and paste!

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4)  Page scroll while in landscape


If you like reading your web pages in landscape mode (sideways), know that you can do quick scrolling using the gesture area…  just flick your finger across half of the gesture area up or down, depending on where you want to go.  It’s more convenient than regularly flicking the screen line-by-line…  I use this feature pretty frequently.

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CAMERA:

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pre back
I have just one tip here, but I couldn’t resist throwin’ it in… not only does the spacebar work to take  pictures, but if you hold the spacebar down, it acts like a quick shutter, taking pictures as fast as one second apart!  You’ll usually have to have the flash turned off in order to get the fastest effect.
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BATTERY LIFE

Look, let’s not sugar-coat this:  the battery life on the Palm Pre sucks.  While we’d all like to place the blame squarely on Palm, it’s a sad reality that battery technology simply has not kept pace with mobile technology…  until that happens, pretty much all smartphones (not just the Palm Pre and Pixi) are going to have to make compromises.  That said, thereare ways to make make your Palm Pre or Pixi more “Prius” and less “Hummer” when it comes to battery consumption.  Lots of sites out there (like Precentral) explain this in detail, but here’s the top 5 tips that have helped me the most:

1) Carry a spare

pre-battery-spare

Yeah. I know how bad it looks when this is my first recommendation. I do it on purpose because I don’t want you to be under any delusions, here: sometimes it will feel like no matter what you do, your battery is dying faster than (insert clever analogy here)   . Still, it’s nice that the Pre has the option to slap in a spare battery, unlike other phones *cough* iPhone *cough*. Plus, spare batteries are small and tough enough to stow in a pocket or purse. There are plenty of options out there:

  • Palm Pre battery (1150mAh)
  • Palm Centro battery (1150mAh): Same size and juice as Pre’s battery, dirt cheap. Many have reported success with this, but Palm discourages it on their website.
  • Seidio batteries: Seidio makes two flavors of spares:
    • 1350 extended: ~10% more juice. Same size as stock. Touchstone compatible.
    • 2600 hi-capacity: Doubles capacity. Makes your Pre 5mm fatter.
  • Amzer batteries: Amzer produces even more power choices:
    • 1400 extended: ~10% more juice. Same size as stock. Touchstone compatible.
    • 2800 hi-capacity: Doubles capacity. Makes Pre 5mm fatter.
    • 3800 ultra hi-capacity: 3x capacity. Makes your Pre are-you-kidding-me fat.
  • Mugen Power batteries: same exact power choices as Amzer. Many folks like this brand.
  • Extended batteries on eBay: These come in all shapes, sizes, and pretty much all from China. I cannot vouch for these batteries personally, though some of my Twitter followers have used them and are very pleased.  To my knowledge, none of the larger capacity batteries requiring a different back plate are Touchstone compatible.

2) Charge frequently

touchstone

You cannot “overcharge” the Pre’s battery. In fact, with time, frequently charging these lithium ion batteries actually improves their performance, while it being at low charges hurt performance. No need to “run it all the way down” to then recharge. Don’t be afraid to charge your battery overnight or have itconstantly plugged into your laptop or wall charger. Me personally? I carry aSmartphone Experts retractable USB charging cord at work. Ten bucks. Very handy.

3) Turn screen brightness to minimum

In my experience, one of the single biggest battery killers is having the screen on really bright.  Whenever you’re indoors, my advice would be to reduce it to a minimum. Not 50%, not 40%, I mean ALL the way down.

4) Turn GPS and Bluetooth off, wi-fi ON

location_2010-13-02_235906

If you’re not using these features, then just say “no.” Unless you use a device menu patch (what’s a patch?  See homebrew below!), GPS can be a hassle to access on a regular basis. My advice would be to move the “Location Services” to the first page of your launcher.  Fortunately, Bluetooth is easy enough to turn on and off by tapping the upper right hand corner of your screen to bring up the device menu.

Wifi is another matter. Supposedly, wifi sucks less juice than your network connection. If you’re in a wifi hotspot, leave your wifi on. (I’ve had mixed results with this, but others swear by it.)

Of course, the best battery saver is putting your phone in “Airplane Mode,” which shuts off ALL radios.

5) Connect to the “cloud” as little as possible

  • palm-pre no cloudEmail fetch: make it less frequent. There’s a difference in the type of email that you use, too.  EAS Exchange sync uses less battery then Gmail, which uses less battery than POP3 clients, such as Hotmail.
  • Internet messaging: If you’re not actively using it, switch it off.  It keeps you constantly connected to the internet when left on. Just tap “buddies” in the messaging app and tap the green icon where it says “Available.” Select “Sign Off.”
  • Background apps: Deal search apps, Twitter notifications, RSS readers, weather apps… these are all great (I use ‘em a lot), but if you want to minimize battery consumption, then these need to have their background processes switched off. Not only do they connect to the cloud, they also use system resources even when they’re not connecting.

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MUSIC SYNC

When the Palm Pre launched in June 2009, Palm had hoped Apple would allow their iTunes customers to use the program on different platforms, including webOS.  Unfortunately Apple had other ideas, and deliberately blocked direct sync with the Palm Pre after iTunes 9.0.1.  This makes things a tad more difficult for iTunes customers, but there’s  stillways for you to sync music (as well as other media) to your webOS device. I won’t go into much detail about each method here – that’s coming in a future article – but as a webOS user, you should at least know about the different options available to you.

Wait… before we start, what’s the difference between Media Sync and USB Drive?

Media Sync is basically the way the webOS phones spoof themselves as an iPod to your computer. This is great for people who are used to the iTunes system of managing files. The biggest downfall of this is, it organizes your media using the iTunes file structure on your phone. If you ever need to “dig” in your phone’s files to find a particular song, good luck.

USB Drive Mode basically converts your phone into a flash drive. This is great for users who would rather create their own file structure, and just transfer their media in a drag/drop fashion. The huge problem with this is that playlists do not transfer using this method.  I hope Palm addresses this.

… Okay, satisfied? Let’s move on to different media sync methods…

1) Good ol’ drag and drop

palm pre drive

As I stated in Part One of my Tips and Tricks series, you can use your webOS device as a flash  drive. This is awesome for moving pictures, videos, important documents, and yes… music! Just plug your phone in, select “USB Drive,” and just drag your music files to your phone. If properly tagged, the songs’ album art and tag info (artist, album) will transfer as well.  Unfortunately, playlists do nottransfer.

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2) Stick with iTunes

Downgrade to iTunes 9.0.1

If you haven’t updated iTunes lately, great! Don’t do anything! If you have updated, no worries. The most recent version that successfully past version 9.0.1, you do have the option of downloading iTunes 9.0.1 athttp://www.oldapps.com/itunes.php. I recommend you read up on how to do this properly before diving in head-first.

itunes agent
iTunes Agent

If you swear by iTunes but are nervous about “downgrading,” then this might be an option.iTunes Agent basically interfaces other non-iPod devices with iTunes and forces them to shake hands.  It’s pretty bare in terms of features, but it does what it says. Just connect in Media Sync Mode and away you go.

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Salling Media Sync

Salling Media Sync

Available for free for Mac and Windows, Salling Media Sync provides a another iTunes sync option. It syncs music, podcasts, playlists, photos, and videos, and can even sync automatically when you connect your phone in Media Sync mode, just like iTunes would do with an iPod.  A paid version ($22) does faster syncs.

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GoGadget for webOSgoGadget-webOS-Ringtones

This is the newest entrant for iTunes sync.  It’s not free ($19.95), but GoGadget for webOS does more than just sync to iTunes… it also allows you to create ringtones, converts video formats to play on your phone correctly, sync pictures to iPhoto, and sync documents. A free 7 day trial is available.

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3) Try other sync programs!

doubletwist

Double Twist

Double Twist is probably one of the most widely-used music sync options for webOS  users. Not only does it sync with iTunes, but you can also download music from the Amazon MP3 store, and convert videos to compatible formats. Also: no iTunes? No problem. Double Twist does direct native sync with your phone… no iTunes needed.

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j river media jukebox

J. River Media Jukebox

Media Jukebox is the free component of J. River’s robust MediaCenter. It basically serves as a direct sync with pretty much any device. Anythingbutipod.com wrote a glowing review about this program here. Among one of the things they really liked about Media Jukebox was an excellent podcast library. I won’t go into other specifics, but I will say this program utilizes the Palm Pre’s impersonation of an iPod really well.

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mediamonkey

MediaMonkey

MediaMonkey is the favorite media handler and sync manager for many webOS users.  In addition to direct sync with your Palm phone, it provides excellent music-tagging features and can find the album art to pretty much any music you own.  The interface is slightly overwhelming at first, but if you work at it, you just might find it to be your favorite media organizer. Anythingbutipod.com wrote a review about and older version of MediaMonkey here, though much of what they say still applies.

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winamp

WinAmp

One of the oldest media player/organizers to date, WinAmp has been my primary music handler for years.  It sports a very easy-to-use interface and lots of fun plugins and skins. Up to now, its one weakness was good sync with MP3 players. Thankfully, this has been addressed and it syncs with the webOS devices.  If you’re familiar with this program but left it because of sync problems in the past, perhaps you should give it another try.

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songbird_screenshot_0

Songbird

This is the ONE media organizer I have not tried yet, but Songbirddeserves some mention since its the favorite music handler of many people, especially those who like listening to podcasts.  Sync with iPods and iPhones is sort of buggy, but it syncs with webOS phones juuuuust fine! 😉

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That does it for music sync.  Which method you choose is a matter of personal preference.  I’ll get into which one is my favorite and why in a future article.  Promise.

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BONUS! HOMEBREW

Thought I was gonna end my Tips & Tricks without including homebrew, didn’t ya?  Actually, homebrew makes excellent “encore” material because, even though you might feel it’s not your cup of tea (heavens, why?!)… every webOS user should still be aware homebrewing exists.  Why?  Because homebrew simply has taken webOS to the next level, arguably more so than has been done on any other mobile platform.

What is homebrew? Essentially, homebrew is like “hacking” your phone. Before the word “hack” makes you run for the hills, don’t sweat it: homebrewing a Palm Pre is nothing like hacking a computer or jailbreaking an iPhone.  Why?

  • Homebrewing is easy, even for amateurs (trust me, I’m one of ‘em!).
  • Unlike Apple, Palm is not against homebrewing. We don’t even call it “jailbreaking” or “hacking.” We use words like “homebrewing,” “tweaking,” or “patching.” 🙂
  • It is virtually impossible to “brick” a webOS device.
    Does the picture above even make you the slightest bit curious? Then read on after the jump!

In this article, I’m not gonna show you how to homebrew. The experts at Precentral have already put together great how-to article. The title of this series is “Tips & Tricks Every webOS User Should Know.” That means it’s my job to make you aware of what homebrew is, and all the cool things you can do with it… rather than just repeating the work of others.

Homebrew Apps!

Before the Palm App Catalog began taking off, many early adopters subsisted on a steady diet of homebrew apps to keep them happy.  Homebrew apps currently number over 400 and even have a catalog of their own. Many of them go on to be published in the App Catalog.  The cool thing about homebrew is you get to see the apps and their updates quicker with homebrew than in the App Catalog. Since the App Catalog is much more robust these days, this has become less of a selling point. Still, there’s a bunch of homebrew and beta apps people swear by.  For example:

drpodder

DrPodder

If you like podcasts, then this app beats anything in the App Catalog to date, in my opinion.  It sports a very easy-to-use interface, it’s fast, and best of all… it’s the only webOS podcasting application so far that allows you to download entire podcasts. It’s been the consistent favorite of many a webOS user. I highly, highly recommended it.

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musicplayerremix

Music Player Remix

This is by far the most downloaded app in all of homebrew.  It basically takes the rather anemic webOS MP3 player and puts it on steroids. It supports a full-time scrim bar (for skipping to parts of a song), allows you to customize the background, lets you do a wikipedia search on a particular song/artist, pulls up lyrics for particular songs, and best of all… supports Flylists, where you make playlists on the fly! It’s totally replaced the stock music player on my Palm Pre.

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autocorrectedit_2010-15-02_184301

Autocorrect Edit

Now here’s an app you likely won’t ever see in the App Catalog. Basically, this app allows you to program autocorrect dictionaries for your most common typos. For instance, even though I’m pretty fast and accurate on my Palm Pre’s keyboard, I still make some recurrent typing mistakes, such as “rhe” instead of “the.” Thanks to AutoCorrect Edit, that mistake is a thing of the past.

An even better application of this app is typing shortcuts. For instance, I type “omw” and it becomes “on my way.” Typing “wcgm” turns into “wanna come get me?” … I’ve used this for quickly typing webpages and entire sentences. I love it.

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jstop_2010-15-02_190935

JSTop

This is another app that likely won’t make it into the App Catalog, but I use it daily. Basically, it’s a task killer and resource monitor.  While that doesn’t sound (or look) very sexy, it’s become an indispensible tool for me. Sometimes, apps don’t close completely and lead to what’s called a “memory leak.” This bogs down the phone, won’t let you open new cards, or rarely even leads to crashes. With JSTop, I just have to see which apps are open, which are consuming more resources, and kill ‘em! It’s really great. I’ve hardly ever had to reboot my Pre to speed it up.

… Okay so that gives you just a small taste of the homebrew apps that I love to use. What else does homebrewing bring you?

Patches!

Patches are tweaks that we apply to our webOS phones that give us a whole new level of customization.  Want the phone to hang up a call when you close the slider? There’s a patch for that. Or how about viewing your emails in landscape mode? There’s a patch for that. How about blinking notifications when you get a text or an email? Have your icons show in a 4×4 manner instead of 3×3? Add up to ten launcher pages rather than just three? Turn your camera’s flash into an LED flashlight? … Yeah, you get the idea.  It’s pretty cool.

I use like 25 patches, but here’s just a few that have been particularly useful for me:

badkitty_2010-07-02_222241

Device Menu MegaMix

If I tap the upper right hand corner of my screen, I’m instantly given access to:

  • screen brightness: A nifty control slider pops up to quickly control screen brightness
  • my phone’s radio: I can shut the phone off (aka airplane mode), shut off just phone data (save battery), force roam only
  • GPS: toggle on/off easily
  • Flashlight: quickly turns camera flash into a LED flashlight!

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twee_2010-17-02_080147twee_2010-17-02_080009

Virtual Keyboard

Okay, I’ll admit I don’t use this patch that frequently, because I’m quite satisfied with the Palm Pre’s keyboard. But it’s cool to show off what homebrew can do, and it’s nice to have the convenience of both physical and software keyboards. It’s slightly janky and has no autocorrect whatsoever, but it does come in handy when typing next to your sleeping spouse who doesn’t like to hear the clicking of keys! Also works in landscape.

Oh yeah… there’s different keyboard themes, too.

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delete from notification

Delete From Notification

Discreet notifications are all well and good, but if I have ten emails, and the top one is junk mail, that’s all I see.  I’d have to tap the message to open the email app, just to delete it! But what if I had a patch that allowed me to just hit a trash can icon to delete the message right then and there? Wait… there is a patch like that!

… And yes fellas, Jessica Alba is totally following Totally Palmed. That’s not Photoshopped at all. 😉

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email_2010-07-02_222700

Advanced Power Options

This is a patch for people who do a lot of homebrewing.  It gives you quick access to Luna restarts (a “quick reboot,” if you will), Java restarts (basically resets all the phone’s radios) and so on. It also gives you quick access to the basic restarts with one tap, rather than having to do it in three.

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launcher tweaks

So much more…

4×4 icons.  Extra launcher pages with page labels.  Battery percent meter.  I really wish I could show you all the tweaks I have.  Guess you really need to join the homebrew party!

… And no I have no problem with the game “Blocked.” The “x” just happened to land on top of it! It’s really a fun little puzzle game. As proof, I even recommended it on my favorite webOS games article!

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Themes!

Themes have been such a fun part of homebrewing for many webOS users.  There’s currently almost 1200 themes for webOS.  You can make your phone look like an iPhone (as shown at the top of this article), or…

Click for detailed view...

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… a Blackberry!

Click for detailed view...

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… a Mac!

Click for detailed view...


… Support your

favorite team!

(Who dat!)

Click for detailed view....

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… Show some

webOS love!

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Click for detailed view...

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… couldn’t resist!

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Want to see more themes? Hop on over to prethemer.com

If you’re feeling creative, you can design and submit themes of your own! I personally designed the Blackberry, Palm, and Tiger Woods themes… ya like? A friendly tip on themes: Always remember to delete a theme before installing a new one!

Well, that covers homebrew! This basically scraped the tip of the iceberg, but I hope it gave you a good idea of what you can do.  Want to get in on the action? Then head on over to Precentral for their excellent how-to article on getting started with homebrew.  Set up takes a few moments, but you’ll thank me later!

And I guess at this point it would be appropriate for me to add this disclaimer:

While Palm is cool with us using homebrew, you should know that they are NOT the ones responsible for creating homebrew, nor do they supervise it. It’s all done by the homebrewing community. My wife and I have been using homebrew since it first started, with very, very few problems. However, a few patches and homebrew apps can bog down your phone’s performance, while still others (like those that affect processor speeds, memory management) can actually be dangerous to the stability of your device.

In short… Respect da homebrew, and it will respect you.

This formally concludes my “Tips & Tricks Every webOS User Should Know.” If you found it helpful, please send cash. … Or just spread the word about Totally Palmed. That’s good enough for me! 🙂

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