The 4 Best Ways to Use Galaxy Note 9’s S Pen

From controlling apps to switching camera modes, the new S Pen is stylin’!

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

 Courtesy of Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was released with several improvements over the previous version, the Galaxy Note 8. It has better battery life, a slightly larger display, and a better processor for those who want to use the device for gaming. But the features dedicated Note users were most excited about are those built into the upgraded S Pen.

All the features of the S Pen from the previous version are still there; Live Messages, Quick Notes, and Screen Write are among the standard features you can still access with the touch of the pen or a press of a button. What’s really exciting are the new features enabled by adding a battery and Bluetooth low energy capabilities. Read on to learn everything you need to know about these new features and capabilities. 

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Battery Powered Means More S Pen Functionality

Screenshots illustrating how to find the controls to turn the S Pen Remote on and off.

 Jerri Ledford

The addition of a battery to the S Pen might seem like it would make the stylus unwieldy, but Samsung took the usability of the accessory into consideration when designing the powered S Pen. The rechargeable battery fits into the stylus without changing the size of it, so users who loved the previous Note stylus will be very happy. And although small, the battery is good for a full 30 minutes and can recharge completely in under one minute.

Users can also expect the S Pen to work with all previous functions, even on a dead battery; power is only needed to use the S Pen to operate remote control and Bluetooth low energy functions. It’s even possible to turn the S Pen ‘off’ for those functions if your phone is running low on power.

To disable the Bluetooth and powered functions of the S Pen:

  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.

Alternatively, you can also 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.

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.

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Use the Samsung Pen as a Remote Control for Your Entertainment

Screenshot showing how to use the 'Hold Pen Button To' command to change what the S Pen controls.

 Jerri Ledford

With the 6.4-inch, high-definition screen and the Dolby Atmos enhanced audio on the Galaxy Note 9, you’re certain to want to watch TV and movies, listen to your music and audiobooks, and view videos on YouTube and other sites. The powered controls on the S Pen make this an easier experience, and it requires no additional setup to control your entertainment, save for ensuring the S Pen is turned on.

Just open your entertainment of choice and start streaming. Some apps, like 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 program) when you press and hold the S Pen button.

To customize what opens when you press and hold the S Pen button:

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced Features > S Pen > S Pen Remote.
    1. Tip: 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 app icon so that when you press and hold the S Pen button, YouTube automatically opens.
  4. Once you’ve made your selection, go back to your home screen. There is no need (and no way) to save your changes.
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Up Your Camera Game by Using the S Pen as a Remote Shutter Release

Screenshots of where to find and how to manage the App Actions for controlling the Note 9 Gamera with the S Pen.

 Jerri Ledford

“Pictures or it didn’t happen.”

How many times have you heard that? The problem is that sometimes getting the perfect picture isn’t easy. Positioning the camera just right means you need longer arms. Or a selfie stick. And if you don’t have either of those…Well, the shot just isn’t great.

In addition to having dual 12 MP cameras, the Note 9 lets you take better pictures, and be part of those pictures using the remote shutter control capability in the S Pen. Called App Actions, these actions will 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.

The App Action options include:

  • Take a picture: When this is enabled, the camera that's open is used to take a picture. It works for both front and back cameras.
  • Switch camera: This app action, when enabled, allows you to switch between your front and back camera modes when you press the button on your S Pen.
  • Record video: Enable this option to record a video from whichever camera you have open with the press (or two presses) of a button.
  • Do nothing: Choose this option and nothing will happen with your camera when you single or double press the button on your S Pen.

App actions, including those for the camera, are also customizable. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced Features > S Pen > S Pen Remote.
  2. Find Camera and make sure the S pen controls are toggled on (the button appear blue on the left side to indicate it’s on or 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.
  7. When you’re finished, you can go back Home. Your settings are saved automatically.

Now your S pen is customized to the way you want to use it while you’re taking pictures or videos with your phone.

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Productivity with Your Samsung Stylus Pen

Galaxy Note users know how to have fun, but they also know how to get things done, and the Galaxy Note 9 makes getting things done even easier, especially when you put the S Pen to work.

One of the most anticipated functions of the S Pen is the ability to control PowerPoint presentations. When paired with Samsung’s DeX capabilities that allows you to connect your Galaxy Note 9 to a large screen, wireless keyboard, and mouse, your S Pen puts you in control of the show; and it’s easy to do!

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 if that’s what you prefer.

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.