Top Nokia 9500 tips - Things every
Communicator owner should know
Revised November 2005
- Stay away from those 'Exit' buttons!
whole point of buying a Symbian OS smartphone like the 9500 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.
- 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
- Faster Documents
Word/Documents on the 9500
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.
- 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.
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).
- Free Internet!
Yes, yes, you know your 9500's
got 'Wi-Fi', but if you haven't got this (or broadband) at home, or if you're
often away from base, don't despair. Wi-Fi (effectively wireless Internet) is
becoming more and more common and almost noone (it seems) bothers to set any
kind of security on their home network. In practice this means that wherever
you happen to be, if you need something large that's going to be too costly to
browse or download on your GPRS tariff, simply drive around your neighbourhood,
with 'Control panel | Connections | Wireless LAN | Networks' showing. In most
streets you'll find several networks, just 'Create access point' for the
strongest and surf or download away. And it's all free 8-)
- 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 9500 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 Communicator 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
9500 make email so easy?
Even better, try my freeware Automail, which automates this.
- Whole day at once
Calendar on the Nokia 9500
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
- 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 Communicator with no loss in quality!
- Surf big
The rebadged Opera in Nokia 9500
needs a lot of RAM to work in. Luckily the 9500'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. And,
when surfing serious sites using Wi-Fi, having a good cache can make a big
difference. Another good tip is, on the 'Services' tab, to set 'Enable
- DATA, but not as you know it
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 9500, 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!
After writing the tip above (Feb 2005), Yellow
Computing have released
still in its early days and buggy (email them any bugs you find) but very much
keeping the spirit of Psion Data alive.
- 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.
- Always grab the latest PC Suite
think that the version of PC Suite shipped with your Nokia 9500 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 v6.6.18 (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.
- File manager, the new System screen
not using File manager every day, then you're not getting the most out of your
9210 or 9500 Communicator. 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.
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
- Keep things safe!
You can use the supplied
Zip Manager (on CD with the 9500) 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
(Epocware have now released a commercial desktop-Communicator
secure database system,
- Be patient
The Nokia 9500 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 communicator's memory, checking for alarms and other
scheduled events, etc. So don't get impatient - work with the 9500 and
not against it. Don't think that everything has to happen instantaneously just
because there's no 'hourglass', a là Windows!
- Desk matters
With Nokia (and Symbian)
amalgamating the 9210s Desk and Extras to form the all-inclusive Desk on
the 9500, theres the potential to either get confused or to not use the
interface to its fullest potential. Its also important to make the most
of the 9500s RAM and good multi-tasking. As with applications in general,
when navigating around your Desk groups, dont keep using
Exit on the toolbar. Leave each one open and simply press Desk
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.
- 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
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
- Case it!
is a big investment, make sure you protect it in a good case. Here's my long
term review round-up of your
- 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
- Not just apps!
Its 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 dont like the icon given, change it with
- 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.
- Lock it!
Something that's not obvious at
first is how to lock the outside of the communicator, 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 9500 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.
Make the most of your infrared
and Bluetooth ports - the 9500 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. Even away from your desktop,
your communicator really is just that - excellent at communicating.
- 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
- Old videos
If you've been a long-time Nokia
9210 fan, with folders of NIM-encoded video clips on your MMC, you might be
worrying about losing these when upgrading to the newer Nokia 9500. Although
RealPlayer on the new Communicator won't open .NIM files, you can (in theory)
convert all your old clips to the modern 3GP mobile standard using Nokia's free
Multimedia Converter 2.0 tool. You can download this
- Secret navigator shortcuts
There are a number
of handy keypresses in the Nokia 9500's cover phone. From the usual 'standby'
screen, press the Navigator up for 'Camera', press it left for writing a new
text message, down for 'Contacts' and right for your 'Inbox'. Camera is
especially interesting, with further up and down keypresses switching the
digital zoom on or off and with left/right cycling between the different camera