10 ways to use the S Pen on a Samsung Galaxy device

samsung Galaxy Note 8 S Pen writing
There’s a number of handy ways to customize and use your S Pen on a Samsung Galaxy device.

  • To use the S Pen on a Samsung Galaxy device, you’ll need to release it from its holder and tap the screen.
  • The S Pen stylus comes with all Galaxy Note devices, and some Galaxy and Galaxy Tab devices.
  • Beyond the traditional stylus actions, there are additional features that can make the S Pen even more useful.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

The S Pen is a stylus that’s designed to work with the Samsung Galaxy, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Tab phones and tablets.

If it came with your Galaxy device, you won’t need to connect it, but there are still a few steps needed to use it. And the newer your device, the more features you’ll have access to with the S Pen.

How to use S Pen on Samsung Galaxy

You can start using the S Pen by pressing on the end of it to release it from your Galaxy device. Your Galaxy will vibrate to let you know that it recognizes you’ve released it.

Galaxy Note 5 S Pen Stylus
Press in the S Pen to release it from the holder.

Your S Pen should start working immediately. If it doesn’t, hover the S Pen over the screen and quickly double-press the button in the middle of the stylus.

Ways to use the S Pen

You can use the S Pen to do anything that you could normally do with your finger. And depending on the Galaxy Note or Tab model you have, you may be able to use some or all of the following useful features. Test them all out and see which ones you like.

Take notes on the lock screen. Simply take out your S Pen and write on the locked screen.

Customize the pen button. Press and hold the pen button. Go into your settings’ advanced features section for the S Pen and select “S Pen remote” or “Air actions.” Then tap “Hold down Pen button to” and select the desired option.

Annotate a PDF. Open the desired PDF file in the Samsung Notes app and write your notes on it with the S Pen as you read.

samsung galaxy s pen
Write or draw on PDFs and images with your stylus.

Automatically change your handwriting to text. Turn on your S Pen and open the Samsung Notes app. Create your handwritten note and hit save, then tap the handwriting-to-text icon in the lower toolbar.

Turn your stylus into a remote. Go into your settings, then select “Advanced Features,” and then “S Pen,” followed by “Air Actions.” Then tap the toggle to turn on the “S Pen remote” option.

Remotely take photos and videos. Follow the steps above to use the stylus as a remote. Then, when you have the camera open and ready, simply tap the end of the stylus once to take a photo or begin a video. Tapping twice will switch between the front and rear cameras. This works when the stylus is less than 10 meters away from the device.

Control your music and other media with the S Pen. Once you’ve set up your S Pen as a remote, you’ll also have the ability to start and stop your media by tapping the end of the stylus while watching a video or listening to music.

Customize air actions. Swipe down on your device, and on the notification panel, select “S Pen air actions.” Under “App actions,” select the app you want to customize. Tap the item you want to customize and select either “Pen button” or “Gestures.”

samsung galaxy s pen
Air actions, also known as “air commands,” give you quick access to useful features.

Use direct pen input. This is turned on by default and allows you to write in text boxes, like in the Messages, Internet, or Phone app, and also converts your handwriting to text.

Advance through a slide deck. Open a presentation on your phone, then pull down your notification menu and choose to use your phone as a touchpad. Go into presentation mode and click your pen once to go to the next slide, or twice to go back a slide.

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How to make a DIY stylus for your tablet or mobile device with just a few household supplies

How to make a stylus 4
It’s possible to quickly make your own DIY stylus.

  • It’s easy to make a working stylus for your tablet with just a few household supplies. 
  • You can make a stylus by inserting a cotton swab in the tip of an empty pen and wrapping the pen in foil.
  • Make sure the cotton is damp and then you can use the homemade stylus to control your tablet.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

A replacement stylus isn’t cheap; Samsung’s S Pen is $30 and Apple sells its 2nd generation Apple Pencil for a formidable $130. That suggests there must be a lot of technology packed into these devices, but the reality is that you can make a working stylus with a few pennies worth of household supplies in less than 5 minutes. 

You probably don’t want to use it in the office – you’ll get stares – but it’s good to know you can make a homemade stylus in a pinch, and it’s a great exercise to do with your kids. 

How to make a homemade stylus

Before you get started, round up the following list of supplies.

1. Remove the ink from the pen so it’s just a hollow tube. 

2. Cut the cotton swab in half so it’s a ball of cotton at one end and a stick at the other. Handy tip: Cut the stick at an angle, because you’re going to have to push it into the end of the pen, and the swab’s stick is probably thicker than the pen’s opening. 

How to make a stylus 2
Cut the cotton swab at an angle so it can fit in the tip of the pen more easily.

3. Force the cotton swab into the pen so that the cotton sticks out where the ink tip used to be. Push the cotton all the way to the tip of the pen. If it’s loose, use a little tape to hold it in place; otherwise, let the tension hold it in place. 

How to make a stylus 3
The pen should now have cotton in place of the ink tip.

4. Cut a square of aluminum foil and wrap it tightly around the pen. It should start at the cotton, covering most of it, and extend down the length of the pen far enough so you’ll make solid contact with it when holding the pen normally in your hand. Use a little tape to secure the foil to the pen – apply it to the tail of the pen, not the cotton, and make sure the foil wraps tightly around the full pen and a portion of the cotton. 

How_to_make_a_stylus 4
Wrap the stylus in foil and secure it with some tape.

5. Dab the cotton tip in some water. Make sure it’s thoroughly moist, but not dripping with water. 

That’s it – your stylus is complete. Test it by holding the pen and using it to control your mobile device. If it doesn’t work, the most likely problems are: the cotton isn’t sufficiently wet, the foil isn’t in solid contact with the cotton, or your hand isn’t touching the foil.

Pencil (small)Galaxy Note10 S Pen (small)

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