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S-Pen Guide

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About the S-Pen:


The S-Pen can be used as a stylus, tapping much more accurately on the screen than you could with your finger, but it also functions as so much more. The technology used in the S-Pen is Wacom's. Wacom is a well known company that makes drawing pads, used by artists to draw on a computer. You can read more about the technology here:


  • The Menu and Back buttons on the bottom of the device are capacitive. As the S-Pen is not capacitive, you cannot press them with it. See below under 'Device wide functionality' for a way of using back and menu anyway without just tapping them with your fingers.

  • While the S-Pen is detected as pointing at or touching the screen the capacitive sensor and buttons will not be functional. This is to prevent you from accidentally pressing something while resting your hand on the device and using the S-Pen, but it isn't very reliable if you don't keep the pen very close to the screen at all times.

  • The S-Pen can now be used by developers! Which means that non-samsung apps are starting to pop up which make use of the full functionality of the S-Pen. Right now only a few drawing applications have chosen to support it, but hopefully more will in the future. To find more S-Pen enabled apps open the Samsung App Store and select S-Pen Apps.

  • As it uses wacom technology, the S-Pen can be replaced/supplemented with any wacom pen. Pens with two buttons where one normally functions as an eraser can also be used! Remember to enable S-Pen detection when the pen is inside the device, or just remove the S-Pen for the wacom pen to be detected.

  • The S-Pen is pressure sensitive. In some applications where you can draw you can press gently for a slimmer line, or harder for a thicker one.



  • You can configure Popup Note to open when you remove the pen. Go to Settings->S-Pen. Other useful configuration options exist here, so take the time to browse them. Checking the battery saving option is critical and has no downsides.

  • The S-Pen Keeper option purports to sound and alert when you walk away from the device without the s-pen. The device has three things to work with to implement this functionality: Being able to detect when the pen is in the device, detecting when the pen is pointed at or touching the screen, and the accelerometer. When the pen is not or pointing at the device and the accelerometer has "shaken" enough the notification will sound. If you don't shake much when you walk, it will take it a -long- time to sound.

  • Under Settings-Lock screen, you can select if you want to be able to use Popup Note on the lock screen. Decheck this for a slightly faster screen turn on rate if you don't use it.

Air View:


When enabled in Settings->S-Pen air view tracks the s-pen as it hovers up to half and inch over the screen.

  • When hovering over an area where simply hovering will not take an action the cursor is an empty circle. In areas where it will take an action the cursor changes. Other cursors include a filled circle and arrows, for example.

  • In most stock applications you can hover over a button to view its function.

  • Hover near the edge of the screen (top, bottom, left, right) in almost any application (even non-stock) where you can scroll and the screen will scroll in the desired direction.

  • In many applications the hovering cursor is viewed as a mouse cursor would be. This can be used to play flash games where the cursor location is important. It can also be used to display drop down menus on websites.

  • Stock applications like Gallery and Video Player have additional air view functionality. Hover over a gallery folder to preview pictures inside it. Hover over the video timeline while playing a video in Video Player to preview the video at that point.

Device wide functionality:


Some functions of the S-Pen can be used almost anywhere on the device - even in games! Most of the functionality requires you to press the button found near the bottom of the pen and draw on the screen (while touching, not hovering).

  • Press and hold the button and draw around any area of the screen, such that the ending point touches or comes near the starting point. A screenshot of the encircled area will be taken and displayed on the screen. Tap an icon on the bottom of the screen to send the screenshot to your desired program. It will be saved the the sdcard/Pictures/Screenshot directory and copied to the clipboard as well. If you touch no icon, it will still be saved and copied. Quickly hit the 'X' near the preview of the screenshot to discard it.

  • Press and hold the button, then touch anywhere on the device and hold still to take a fullscreen screenshot. The screenshot will then be displayed in an editor. You can draw and write on the screenshot using the S-Pen. See the options at the top of the screen to switch drawing and text options. Click the checkmark to save the screenshot, or the 'X' to discard it.

  • Any text that can be selected, even in most programs that do not support the S-Pen, can be selected by holding down the button and then drawing a line over it. The normal text selection brackets will then appear and can be used to refine your selection.

  • Press and hold the button, then quickly tap twice anywhere on the screen to bring up S-Memo. You can then write anything you wish without closing the running program.

  • Press and hold the button, then draw a line from near the bottom of the screen to near the top. This will open Quick Command. More information on Quick Command can be found below.

  • Press and hold the button, then draw one of the predefined symbols below anywhere on the screen to activate the corresponding function.

  1. Back: An arrow (with no tail) pointing to the left.
  2. Menu: An arrow (with no tail) pointing up.
  3. Undo: (Where applicable) Draw a line from right to left.

The Samsung Keyboard:


If you select the Samsung Keyboard in Settings->Language and Input you can use the S-Pen for handwriting recognition input anywhere you can use the keyboard. To activate handwriting recognition, press and hold the microphone icon on the keyboard:

Then select the 'T' text input icon.

Write in the center box that appears. The system will turn your input into text with a slight delay. It is quite accurate and can even interpret cursive - if your cursive is very clean and proper.

  • While in the keyboard, draw a line from left to right to put in a space. Draw a line from right to left to press backspace (you can also just tap the backspace icon on the top).

  • Tap the 'A' icon at the top to change the keyboard to numeric input mode, which is more accurate at recognizing numbers and equations.

  • Tap the '123 Sym' icon to bring up a quick, tappable menu of numbers and symbols.

  • Press and hold the microphone icon, then select the keyboard icon to return to the normal keyboard.

Quick Command:


Quick command can be used anywhere on the device to take a predefined action or execute a macro. Access quick command by pressing the S-Pen button and drawing a line from the bottom to the top of the device. Any length of vertical line should work, it doesn't need to be precise.

Once the Quick Command screen pops up, you can draw one of the predefined icons followed by text, or define your own macros. To define your own macro, press the settings button in the upper right of the Quick Command screen, then add a command. You can open an application or select functions. In functions, you can set more than one action. "Mute and enable bluetooth" for example. Once selected, you can draw or select one or more characters and symbols to activate the action, and then use those symbols in Quick Command!



S-Note is one of the applications always pinned to the bottom icons in the Touchwiz Launcher. It is the showcase app for the S-Pen.

  • If you take partial screenshots with the S-Pen and send them to S-Note, they will appear in the Scrapbook.

  • To create a new Note, use the '+' icon. You don't have to be in a folder.

  • Once in a note you can write and draw as you wish. Hover over icons to see their functionality, or press and hold them to bring up more options. The third icon on the top row allows you to switch between drawing, formula match and text input modes.

  • While in drawing mode and not touching the screen press and release the S-Pen button to switch between eraser and draw modes.

  • Tap the image icon for a menu allowing you to insert pictures, video, etc. This menu can be scrolled down for more options, if in landscape mode. One cool option is 'Idea Sketch'. After selecting it you can write the name of something you want a quick image of, and the device will search for it.

  • Tap the red circle icon to begin (and then stop) recording your drawings as a video. To playback these recordings close and save your note, open it and press the 'Play' button.

  • A full, useful tutorial on S-Note can be found by pressing the menu key, scrolling down in the menu and pressing Tutorial.

I'm sure I've only scratched the surface of what is available when using the S-Pen. If you have any new tips or tricks, or want to write up a section on another app that uses the S-Pen, make a post and I'll add it to the guide! I also plan on making an S-Pen quick reference screen in the future, if there is any interest.

Edited by Acorns

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