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Top Nokia 9300 tips - Things every smartphone owner should know

9300 in hands
Revised November 2005

  1. Stay away from those 'Exit' buttons!
    The whole point of buying a Symbian OS smartphone like the 9300 is that its multitasking lets you keep loads of things running at once. Starting up applications takes three seconds a time, so you don't want to be doing this too often. Make sure you don't keep closing programs down with 'Exit' (unless you're sure you're not going to need them again). Instead, simply use the left-hand menu card to switch to another running program or use the main application shortcut keys or press 'Desk' and choose a new one.
  2. Buy big
    Get the largest memory card that you can comfortably afford. When manipulating very large files (e.g. short video clips), it's helpful to get yourself a USB card reader/writer, so that you can copy things onto card directly from your desktop computer. DON'T get a 2GB MMC card, by the way, as there are many issues with the 9500 trying to use these.
  3. Faster Documents
    Word/Documents on the 9300 has (nearly) the same keystroke combinations as Word on the Psion palmtops that we've all grown up with. You can speed around your documents with: 'Chr' plus 'nav-left' = Home; 'Chr' plus 'nav-right' = End; 'Chr' plus 'nav-up' = Page up; 'Chr' plus 'nav-down' = Page down; 'Ctrl' plus 'Chr' plus 'nav-up' = Top of document, and so on.
  4. Office speed
    Whether you've received a Microsoft Office file by email or perhaps copied it onto your communicator using PC Suite, it's often best to work using Symbian OS's native Word and Sheet formats rather than having to wait every single time you open, save (e.g. when switching away to another app) or close an Office file. To save a file in native format, use the 'epoc/app' option in the 'Save as' dialog.
    And, of course, if you're creating a new document, start in native (EPOC) format and then it'll be converted when dragging and dropping back to your PC (or you can re-save it manually).
  5. Background email
    Never, ever forget that this Symbian OS is a powerful multi-tasking Operating System. Here's a terrific example. Why not grab your email in the background? In Messaging (properly set up, I hope, with messages below a certain size being downloaded in full and with others just retrieved as headers), press 'Retrieve e-mail' and then close the 9300 up. That's right, you heard right. Close it up, the screen goes off, and so on, and you get on with your life (running for the bus, nipping to the loo, etc). When convenient, a few minutes later, open up the smartphone and you'll see everything fetched as-per-your-instructions and ready to read. How cool is that? And who needs the hassle and expense of 'push' email when the 9300 make email so easy?
    Even better, try my freeware Automail, which automates this.
  6. Whole day at once
    Calendar on the Nokia 9300 has a pretty unusable Day view, with lots of up and down scrolling needed by default to see appointments at both ends of the day, meaning that some will get missed. Go to 'View' 'View settings' and change 'Time slot allocation' to the maximum of '2 hours'. You can now fit a whole day's activity on a single screen!
    Day at once
  7. Double the music
    Up 'til now, you've probably been using MP3 for all your music needs. If, like, millions of others across the world, you switch to using the public domain Ogg Vorbis format instead, you can double the amount of music on your smartphone with no loss in quality! Here's how.
  8. Surf big
    The rebadged Opera in the Nokia 9300 needs a lot of RAM to work in. Luckily the 9300's got quite a bit. But it also needs a reasonable size disk cache, so go into 'Settings' and set 'Maximum cache size' to something large, like 2000 or 3000kB. Remember, this is only coming out of the enormous 80MB internal flash disk, so you won't miss it. Another good tip is, on the 'Services' tab, to set 'Enable Javascript' to 'No'.
    Cache setting
  9. DATA, but not as you know it
    For those upgrading from a Psion Series 3 or Series 5/Revo palmtop, the absence of DATA (or even Jotter) is a blow. Quite apart from names and addresses (which are now in Contacts, of course), DATA was always very good for jotting down fairly free-form sets of information, reference info that you wanted to look up later on. On the 9300, you have to think laterally - there IS a database in ROM. It's called Calendar, it's based on the same underlying engine as the old DATA app and it's fully synced to Outlook whenever you like. Now, why not create a few new To-do lists to do the work of DATA? For each entry, use the To-do title as your title field, obviously, then use the freeform Note page as your main working area. The only snag is that the Calendar Find function doesn't search within To-do Notes, even when you tell it do so under 'Find | Options' (probably a bug), though finding text within an entry title works OK. Still, it's free, it's built-in and it's a lot better than nothing!
    To-do, pretending to be Data/Jotter
    After writing the tip above (Feb 2005), Yellow Computing have released YData, still in its early days and buggy (email them any bugs you find) but very much keeping the spirit of Psion Data alive.
  10. Reclaiming Megabytes
    Every time you install a third party program, the full SIS file hangs around the root of your internal disk, wasting space. Have a look now with File manager - I'll bet you can clear out a few Megabytes at least by deleting these leftover files.
  11. Always grab the latest PC Suite
    You might think that the version of PC Suite shipped with your Nokia 9300 is quite adequate and that any versions posted online will be simple bug fixes - but you'd be wrong.. Nokia has been adding all sorts of handy features (and many bug fixes, yes) to PC Suite and the latest v6.6 (at 30th Sept 2005) comes highly, highly recommended. Auto-archiving of your photos and videos, and better synchronisation are just two of the main benefits.
  12. File manager, the new System screen
    If you're not using File manager every day, then you're not getting the most out of your 9300 smartphone. It's that important, and it's a bit like the old Psion Series 5 System screen. Unlike many other PDA environments, where you're not concerned with where files 'live', you can make your own folders and put what you like in them, effectively grouping all types of files by theme rather than by type. A common example might be a project that you're working on, which might involve a couple of spreadsheets, five or six Word files, a custom OPL calculator and several folders of images. All of these can be stored in a single root folder with an appropriate name, e.g. 'ProjectX'. And File manager is your way into these folders, you simply press Enter on a file to launch it in its associated application. If long filenames mean that you can't identify each one in the narrow default view, highlight the folder name and press the 'Open' toolbar button for a much better view.
    File manager
    One final File manager tip - go into Settings and enable viewing of the \System folder. You'll need to know about this for the future, trust me.
  13. Keep things safe!
    You can use the supplied Zip Manager (on CD with the 9300) to create a great encrypted document system that's also compatible with your desktop PC. For example, keep that confidential spreadsheet or Word file of passwords safely hidden from prying eyes. For full details, see my Secret Safe article.
    (Epocware have now released a commercial desktop-Communicator secure database system, Handy Safe, recommended)
  14. Be patient
    The Nokia 9300 series doesn't have the speediest processor in the world (which partly accounts for its outstanding battery life). And the multi-tasking Symbian operating system often gets it into its head to do lots of things at once. For example, you close a Sheet file and return to Desk, then get frustrated because your next keypress takes a moment or two to get recognised. Behind the scenes, Symbian OS is saving your file, tidying up the smartphone's memory, checking for alarms and other scheduled events, etc. So don't get impatient - work with the 9300 and not against it. Don't think that everything has to happen instantaneously just because there's no 'hourglass', a là Windows!
  15. Desk matters
    With Nokia (and Symbian) amalgamating the 9210’s Desk and Extras to form the all-inclusive Desk on the 9300, there’s the potential to either get confused or to not use the interface to its fullest potential. It’s also important to make the most of the 9300’s RAM and good multi-tasking. As with applications in general, when navigating around your Desk ‘groups’, don’t keep using ‘Exit’ on the toolbar. Leave each one open and simply press Desk again.
    Make sure you make the new system of Desk groups work for you by creating your own. Use the ‘New group’ menu command. Once created, it will be one of the group options shown when you install new software.
    Desk folders
  16. Just forget them
    When selecting recipients in Messaging, it calls up your Contacts list. The trouble is, the filtering of your contacts takes quite a while, which is frustrating. Tempting though it is to have your entire company directory (1000s of people) loaded in Contacts, Messaging will thank you to keep the number down (say a few hundred, i.e. the people you actually know). If you must keep the company phone directory on hand, use a different tool, such as Power Data 4.0.
    Make sure you keep all 'Advanced search' fields set to 'No', otherwise your Contacts searches will take three times longer than they need to. If you really want to search for something in one of the other fields, turn them on in 'Advanced search', search away and then remember to turn them off again afterwards.
  17. Archiving emails
    Still on the subject of Messaging, you'll know already that this just shows you what's currently in your remote mailbox. There's no inherent concept of archiving important emails, this is left as something to do on the desktop PC. But you can still keep your own mini-archive by creating a 'New folder' in the 'Root' folder, perhaps calling it 'Archive' and 'Copy'ing any or all downloaded messages from mailboxes into this new folder.
    For really serious archiving (hundreds of SMS/emails), use Symbianware's MessageStorer.
  18. Not just apps!
    It’s very important to note that you can put in Desk shortcuts to all sorts of things. Compiled OPL programs, Word or Sheet documents, TomeRaider databases, Notes, and so on. If you don’t like the icon given, change it with ‘Ctrl’+’P’.
  19. Multiple groups
    Commonly used applications (such as File manager or Clock) can be added to groups as many times as you like, perhaps once in each Desk group. Thus, whichever one you happen to be in, your favourites are never more than few keypresses away. Highlight the application icon and use ‘Show in groups’ on the Desk menu.
  20. Lock it!
    Something that's not obvious at first is how to lock the outside of the smartphone, i.e. to lock the keys on the phone side to prevent accidental calls. In fact, it's 'Menu' and then '*'. So now you know. In fact, you can leave your 9300 locked most of the time, as opening up the unit reveals business as usual and you can always initiate calls from the Telephone or Contacts application. This leaves the front panel buttons for receiving calls and acknowledging alarms and messages, etc.
  21. Communicate!
    Make the most of your infrared and Bluetooth ports - the 9300 can talk to almost anything, from desktops to camera to other PDAs. And where infrared or Bluetooth aren't possible, you can usually pass files along by MMC card or by email.
  22. Save time
    Where there are keyboard shortcuts, learn them and use them. For example, pressing Calendar repeatedly cycles through its views, with 'ctrl'+'Calendar' always getting you to 'Today', in the Day view. Pressing the Menu key cycles through tabbed dialog panes. There are many, many other quick keypresses and shortcuts that you'll pick up as you go along.