I’m back! I’m involved in some major project work that has prevented me from blogging regularly. However, I’ll continue to write when there’s valuable content to share about being more productive.

Now, it’s time to fulfill a promise I made prior to my disappearance: discussing the topic of dealing with attachments on a Blackberry.

BLACKBERRY ATTACHMENTS 101

Things have actually changed in two big ways recently in terms of Blackberry e-mail attachments:

  • last fall, Dataviz came out with a Blackberry version of their Documents To Go software; and
  • RIM (Research In Motion, the folks that make the Blackberry) bundled the Standard Edition of Documents To Go as a free component in their latest operating system version, 4.5.

This means if you have Blackberry OS 4.5, you have available to you the ability to view and do basic editing on Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) documents.

To do this, highlight an attachment in an open e-mail message, and click to display the menu. You’ll see two relevant choices: Open Attachment, which lets you view it in the native Blackberry attachment viewer, and Download Attachment, which launches Documents To Go.

If you aren’t sure whether you have Blackberry OS 4.5, here are instructions for checking your version.

If you don’t currently have v4.5 installed, here’s information about upgrading.

If you have v4.5 installed, but you don’t see Documents To Go and/or don’t have a “Download Attachment” menu option, here’s information on installing it.

If you need more sophisticated editing and file creation capabilities than are available in the bundled Standard Edition, there is a Premium Edition of Documents To Go available – but it’ll set you back $49.95. Here’s a comparison chart of the two versions.

OK, that covers Office docs. But I hear you calling out now, “What about PDFs?”

You can do basic viewing of PDFs, just as you can for other attachments, using the “Open Attachment” option described above. This provides for basic viewing capabilities.

I will say that in my testing, RIM has improved this feature. On my previous Blackberry which ran OS 4.3, viewing PDFs was a difficult endeavor: you had to Zoom in to see anything at all, then Pan to find the part of the page you wanted to read, then select Enhance to make it legible; and then you could no longer Pan to different parts of the page.

On my new Blackberry Bold running v4.5, the whole experience is much improved. In fact, there is no longer an Enhance function, and the document is readable right after Zooming in. (Then again, the Bold also has a much better screen, so that may be a factor as well.)

If you do want more complete capabilities to view PDF attachments – essentially a Blackberry version of Adobe Reader – you have to purchase add-on software. There are a number of such Blackberry PDF add-ons available. For one, the Premium Edition of Documents To Go, discussed above, includes a full-featured PDF viewer.

If you don’t want to pay $49.95 for that add-on, a very popular and less expensive alternative is RepliGo Reader at only $19.95. In my testing, RepliGo worked quite well.

THE BEST OUTLOOK PRODUCTIVITY ADD-IN

One of the things I’ve done over the past year is conduct extensive testing of every Outlook-based productivity tool on the market, looking for the one or two that best support my More Productive Now personal productivity approach.

I’ve finally settled on one that I love enough to endorse and recommend; and in an upcoming newsletter, I’ll be sharing it with you. (In fact, I find it so valuable that I’m in the process of writing a special version of my book to explain how to best use it to achieve unparalleled personal productivity in Outlook.)

More about that coming up…