How to Use Your Galaxy S9 Smart Pen

From controlling apps to switching camera modes, the S Pen is one handy tool

The S Pen for Samsung's Galaxy Note 9, released in August 2018, was an upgrade from previous versions and added a battery and Bluetooth. Along with these new enhancements, it retained all the functions of the S Pen from the previous version, such as Live Messages, Quick Notes, and Screen Write. Here's what to know about the added features and capabilities. 

The information here pertains to the S Pen for Samsung's Galaxy Note 9.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 with the powered, Bluetooth S Pen.
 Courtesy of Samsung

Battery Power for Extra Functionality

A battery in the S Pen might sound unwieldy, but the rechargeable battery fits right into the stylus without changing the pen's size. Users who were comfortable with the previous Note stylus are likely to find this one just as easy to use. Although small, the battery is good for a full 30 minutes and can recharge completely in less than one minute.

The powered S Pen functions may change the way you use your S Pen, which results in having it out of the sheath more often. To help prevent leaving your S Pen behind or even losing it completely, be sure to go to Settings > Advanced Features > S Pen and toggle on the Alarm. If your phone gets too far away from your S Pen with the screen off, an alarm will sound reminding you to return the S Pen to its sheath.

Even on a dead battery, though, the S Pen offers all the functions of the previous version. It requires power only when you're using it in remote-control and Bluetooth low-energy modes. It’s even possible to turn the S Pen off for those functions if your phone is running low on power. Here's how:

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced Features > S Pen.

  2. On the S Pen settings page, tap S Pen remote.

  3. At the top of the S Pen Remote settings page, toggle the S Pen remote functions On and Off using the button in the upper right corner. When off, the S Pen still works with other, non-powered functions.

  4. Alternatively, you can use the S Pen button in the Notifications window shade (accessible by dragging from the top of the screen downward) to toggle powered functions on and off.

A Remote Control for Entertainment

The 6.4-inch, high-definition screen and the Dolby Atmos-enhanced audio on the Galaxy Note 9 make watching TV and movies, listening to music and audiobooks, and viewing videos on YouTube and other sites a pleasurable experience. On top of that, the powered controls on the S Pen give you convenient control over playback without any additional setup.

Just open your entertainment of choice and start streaming. Some apps, such as Spotify, even have universal controls, so when you want to pause your music, movies, videos, and audiobooks, just press the button on the S Pen. To skip to the next track or song, quickly press the button twice.

You can even set up the S Pen to automatically open your favorite entertainment (or any other app) when you press and hold the S Pen button. Here's how to set that up.

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced Features > S Pen > S Pen Remote. An alternative way to get to this screen is to pull down the Notifications window shade, then press and hold the S Pen's Quick Access button. This opens the S Pen Remote setting screen directly.

  2. Tap the Hold Down Pen Button To section.

  3. On the options screen that opens, you can toggle the feature to press and hold the S Pen button on an off, and you can also choose which app you want to open when you perform that action. For example, if you use YouTube a lot, you can select the YouTube icon so that YouTube automatically opens when you press and hold the S Pen button.

  4. Go back to your home screen. There is no need (and no way) to save your changes.

Shoot Like a Pro

With dual 12 MP cameras, the Note 9 lets you take high-quality photos. Even better, you can be part of them when you use the remote shutter control capability of the S Pen. App Actions work with your S Pen even if the camera isn’t the app you choose to open when you press and hold the S Pen button.

App Action options include:

  • Take a picture: Works for both front and back cameras.
  • Switch camera: Switches between front and back camera modes.
  • Record video: Works with whichever camera you have open with the press (or two presses) of a button.
  • Do nothing: Exactly as it sounds.

App actions are customizable. Here’s how to make them behave exactly as you prefer:

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced Features > S Pen > S Pen Remote.

  2. Find Camera, and make sure the S pen controls are toggled on.

    Tthe button appears blue on the left side to indicate it’s on, and gray on the right side when it’s off.

  3. Tap the blue link under Single press.

  4. The App Action menu appears. Choose the action you want to happen when you press the S Pen button one time while using the camera.

  5. Tap the blue link under Double press.

  6. The App Action menu appears. Choose the action you want to happen when you press the S Pen button two times while using the camera.

Your settings are saved automatically.

Productivity With Your Stylus Pen

One of the most anticipated functions of the S Pen is the ability to control PowerPoint presentations. Paired with Samsung’s DeX, which connects your Galaxy Note 9 to a large screen, wireless keyboard, and mouse, your S Pen puts you in control of the show.

To control a PowerPoint presentation:

  1. If desired, connect your Samsung Galaxy Note 9 to a large screen using the DeX connector.

  2. Open your PowerPoint presentation.

  3. Use your S Pen as the control for the presentation.

As with the camera, you can customize how the button on the S Pen controls the presentation. Go to Settings > Advanced Features > S Pen > S Pen Remote and use the App Action links under PowerPoint to assign a single or double press to move the presentation to the Next Slide or Previous Slide. Of course, you also have the option to Do nothing.

Similarly, you can use these same settings and your S Pen to control a Chrome browser, the Hancom Office Editor, and some social media applications, such as Snapchat.

With all these S Pen capabilities, you're likely to have it out of its sheath often. To help prevent leaving your S Pen behind or even losing it completely, go to Settings > Advanced Features > S Pen and toggle on the Alarm. If your phone gets too far away from your S Pen with the screen off, an alarm will sound reminding you to return the S Pen to its sheath.