This is a consolidated setup guide for the BlackBerry Bold 9900. It was last (partially) updated in July 2021.
The Bold 9900 can be configured to use over wifi and with a regular data plan (i.e., without BIS). You should be aware that fewer and fewer websites and connected apps work on the device due to its outdated security protocols. Most users won't be happy with the limitations. In the U.S., your carrier will be shutting down 3G in 2022, but you may be able to keep using the bold over 2G with US Mobile. See this link for further information. I'm Canadian, so I have no way of confirming this in practice.
I try to keep the guide up to date, but I don't use all of the apps listed, so it relies on reports from other users. Please leave any feedback in this thread at CrackBerry. See also the Bold 99xx Working and Dead Apps List.
More information on the apps discussed below can be found on the app information page.
Before you begin, you should consider installing the latest version of OS 7.1. After I installed the O2 UK version of OS 7.1 my Bold ran cooler, the battery life improved, and the experience was very stable. You can download it by following the link here: O2 UK version. For installation instructions, read post #47 of that thread.
Alternative installation procedures using BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife can be found here, here, and in post #3 of this thread at CrackBerry.
If you want to use a regular data plan on your carrier’s network, you will need to enter the APN settings. Here are the instructions. A visual tutorial is here, but you must enter your carrier’s specific settings, rather than those in the tutorial. You can probably find the settings here: World Wide Mobile Phone Settings
Many BlackBerry OS apps were designed to work only with a connection to BlackBerry’s servers.
Without a BIS connection to those servers, you will not be able to use many of BlackBerry’s built-in applications, including:
The BlackBerry web browser works over wifi, but it may or may not work over the cellular network, depending on your provider. You will be able to make phone calls and send SMS (text-only) messages.
Some carriers will push you the MMS service books and you'll be able to send picture messages. Others won't. Ask yours if they will enable MMS for you. If not, see the MMS (Basic) page for a simple workaround. See the MMS (Advanced) page for a complex solution for advanced users.
Note for users of Koodo Prepaid in Canada: you can just set your APN using the directions above, and then follow the instructions on this page to enable MMS messaging and get the browser working over cellular data. This still works in 2021 and may work for Koodo postpaid as well.
For everyone else, as long as your carrier still has 3G service, you can install many apps that work well using wifi or a regular data plan, without BIS, and which serve the same or similar functions as the BlackBerry apps.
Here are the essentials:
*BBW: BlackBerry World *OTA: Over-the-Air
BlackBerry World apps are installed using the BlackBerry World app on the phone.
The OTA apps are available via websites. For OTA apps, use a browser to search for and navigate to the download links, and click on the link to install. Update: some of the apps are also available through the Quick Apps store.
Some of the OTA software is no longer supported by or available from the creator, but all of the apps listed above can be found online as of May 2020. Searching for the app name with the version number plus “BlackBerry OTA” or “.jad” will usually lead you to a download if you’re persistent. If a download does not install using the BlackBerry browser, you may need to use Opera Mini to download the app.
The usual warnings about downloading software from untrusted sources and compromising your device security apply. If you install apps from websites, you have to take responsibility for the potential results.
Over time, it will become more difficult to find many of these apps. I have had some success locating older software by searching through archived versions of old websites using the ‘Wayback Machine’ at archive.org.
You can back up your phone settings and some data using BlackBerry Desktop.
You can back up your third-party apps (including the OTA apps) using BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife.
Here are a few options for backing up and syncing your organizer data. If you know of others, please submit them to the original thread over at CrackBerry.
Use the BlackBerry Desktop software (still working in 2020 with Windows 10). This requires you to connect your phone to your computer via USB cable or bluetooth, which means synchronization only occurs when you do it manually. It has the advantage of being very secure and private. Look up the official BlackBerry guide in the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive: http://ca.blackberry.com/support/apps-and-software/desktop-pc.html. The link cannot be posted without crashing this site. The BlackBerry Desktop software can be downloaded here.
Note that BlackBerry Desktop does not work with MS Outlook 2013 or 2016 64-bit. You need the 32-bit version of Outlook 2013 or 2016 if you want to use BlackBerry Desktop to sync your Outlook data with your Bold 9900. BlackBerry Desktop does work with earlier 64-bit versions of Outlook.
Configuration hints: the original Facebook app (not the newer browser-based app) installs a calendar service book that can interfere with calendar syncing. You may need to uninstall the app and the Facebook [CICAL] service book in order to sync your calendar. I also experienced trouble establishing a reliable two-way sync. Fixing the problem involved deleting all of the calendar, contact, task, and memo entries from my device, selecting "forget my device" in BlackBerry Desktop, and then reconnecting the device and re-entering the organizer sync settings. If you do this, make sure you have your data backed up somewhere else (hopefully in Outlook) before proceeding.
BlackBerry OS 7.1 can make use of an old PIM sync protocol, SyncML, to sync the calendar and contacts. You have two options to backup and sync your PIM data wirelessly using SyncML.
Memotoo offers the ability to sync your calendar, contacts, tasks, and memos to memotoo's cloud, as well as to the major webmail services, Evernote, and Simplenote, among others. The downside is that you'll be putting all of your data on someone else’s server. Of course, you might already being doing that (on Gmail, Outlook.com, etc.) and it might not matter to you. The upside is that you can sync from anywhere at any time, as long as you have a wifi or cellular connection. You can create an account and download the app at memotoo.com.
This information in the next paragraph should probably be archived, but I've left it here on the off-chance that someone wants to use it with a legacy operating system on a private network. Most (probably all) groupware projects have removed syncml support.
You can use the OneMediaHub (BBW) or Memotoo (OTA) apps, which are both based on the open-source FUNAMBOL client, to sync with your own SyncML server. The OneMediaHub service no longer works, but the app allows you to connect with your own server instead -- as does the Memotoo app. The major problem is that the easy to work with open-source servers don't seem to work anymore (FUNAMBOL is impossible to install and eGroupWare dropped SyncML support). Horde groupware may still support SyncML, but there are no good guides for setting it up and I have failed repeatedly in my efforts. I've had the call out for a successful Horde setup guide since 2014 and no one has ever replied.
 Opera Mini: if you log into any accounts using Opera Mini, you will be transmitting your passwords through Opera's proxy server, which is probably not a great idea.