The S Pen makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 unique among Android flagship phones and the S Note app combines the power of the S Pen with a useful note taking app. However, the app does more than take notes. This tutorial will help you master Samsung’s best pre-installed app on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
In this tutorial, we’ll show S Note users how to get the most out of this simple yet powerful app. Read these tips to master S Note and make it work for you in business, school and personal life. We’ll start with the basics and then branch into some power tips.
Sync S Note Notes with Samsung or Evernote
Most people who own a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 probably already ran the setup guide that launches the first time the user starts S Note. If not, open the app and follow the guide to get things going. Here’s a few tips to set up S Note if you’ve already run the setup wizard.
Start by launching the S Note app and go into Settings. The three dot icon in the upper right opens a menu. Select Settings to view the screen below.
The Accounts setting will let users sync notes with one of two accounts. Choose the Samsung account that you may have set up when you started downloading apps from the Galaxy Apps store. The app also syncs with Evernote. This is a matter of preference, but I choose the Samsung account, since this keeps my notes separate from Evernote. I’m only going to use S Note notes on a Samsung phone, so I pick it to keep my Evernote account clear of files I can’t use on any other device.
Choose Default Notebook Covers and Pages
Two other settings let the user pick their default cover and note template. Tap on Change default cover and pick one or more covers. If the user picks more than one cover, then S Note will randomly pick on of the chosen covers and apply it to new Notes when they’re created. Tap Done when finished.
Tap on Change default template to pick a new paper template for new notes. S Note offers a few built-in but also lets the user download many more from the Galaxy Apps store. Select one template to make it the default. S Note offers portrait mode templates and landscape mode templates. Choose one or the other to match how you use your Galaxy Note. Tap Done when finished.
To get more templates tap on the hamburger menu in the upper left corner (the three lines that sort of resembles a hamburger). At the bottom of the menu that flies out from the left edge of the Note 4 choose MORE FEATURES. The app lists three features users can add.
- Idea Sketch makes it easy to create line art in notes.
- Easy Chart makes professional looking charts in notes.
- Background image lets the user add new templates.
Tap on each and install them if you want to use them or just pick the third to add new page templates. The first two installs in one step while Background images each get installed one at a time. There are a ton of background images available. The app shows how much room on the phone the image will take up. Only install the ones you will use. You can always go back and get more later. Keep scrolling down to find the landscape templates.
How to Show Note Toolbar
When opening a note in S Note, sometimes the toolbar hides itself and looks like the top third of the image above where there’s no toolbar at all showing. If there’s no toolbar, tap on the note and the toolbar shows (see the middle part of the image above). To open the full toolbar, tap on the pencil button in the upper left corner. It shows the full toolbar (see the bottom part of the image above).
S Pen Only Mode or S Pen and Finger Mode
The S Note app on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 offers two modes explained below. Here’s how a user selects one or the other. Create a new note by tapping the plus button at the top. The user can also open a note already created.
The first time the user creates a new note in S Note the app shows the user how to use the camera to import images. More on that below. Next the app will asks the user to pick a mode. The modes include…
- S Pen only mode – this mode will write or draw on-screen only using the S Pen. Fingers and touch don’t work except to navigate around the app and choose buttons.
- S Pen and finger mode – this is the opposite of S Pen only mode. The user can write or draw with the S Pen or their finger.
I prefer to use S Pen only mode since it’s always present and does a better job of writing precise notes. For people who use their finger a lot for drawing, pick the default S Pen and finger mode.
To change this after the first time the user launches the app, open a note or create a new note and then tap on the finger icon at the top of the S Note screen as seen above. It looks like a hand and sites third from the right. If the icon shows the circle with the line through it on top of the hand (as seen above), then the app’s in S Pen only mode. If the circle with the line through doesn’t show up on the hand, then it’s in S Pen and finger mode.
Import Photos Into Notes
Sometimes when taking notes the phone doesn’t fit to well into a person’s usage, that’s why Samsung lets people import handwritten notes on paper or a whiteboard. To do this, use the phone’s camera within the app.
The first time a person creates a new note by tapping the plus icon in the upper right corner, the app will show users how to insert photos from the camera or the photos on the phone. If you already did this once, you won’t see the tutorial, so here’s how to add photos.
On the toolbar of a note, there’s a camera icon between the big T that stands for text and the cloud with a dotted line. Tap on the camera and S Note opens the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Camera app, or whatever default camera app the user chooses. The first time the user does this, an overlay explains how to use the camera features in S Note. Read the helpful tips and then tap on OK to clear it.
In the Camera app there are five icons as follows in clockwise order starting at the top left corner:
- Flash button – tap to toggle between flash on or off
- Auto or Manual – this button looks like a square with the word AUTO or MANUAL in it and it toggles between auto selection mode or manual selection mode. This is useful for importing a page and this selects the page so that the camera only imports the page and not the table or desk under the page.
- Grid lines – this toggles the grid lines on or off to make it easier to line up a page to import into S Note
- Camera shutter button – tap to take a picture
- Photos app – tap to open the photos app and select a photo already stored on the phone to import it into a note instead of taking a new image with the camera
Use flash in dark rooms and set the auto/manual to auto unless the camera app can’t find the edges of the page you want to import. Turn on the grid lines because they make it easier to line things up.
If you already have an image on the phone that you want to import, tap the camera icon from the S Note toolbar and then select the Photos icon. To take a new photo tap the shutter release button.
After taking a shot, the app tries to find the edges of a page by default. If it can, then it will import the page into S Note. If not, it will put the photo in S Note ready for the user to edit.
Resize the photo to make it fit where you want it by dragging from one of the blue circles on one of the four corners or on one of the four sizes. The circle just above the photo connected by a line will rotate the photo. Tap and drag it left and right to turn the photo around. A toolbar shows up either above or below the photo. Slide left and right to show all the editing buttons. They include:
- Properties – shows key details about the image and lets the user edit the width, height, aspect ratio and send it to the back of the page so that other objects, text or writing shows up on top of the image or pull it to the front to place over other objects. You can also put a frame around the text or add image effects like turn it into a negative, black and white, pen sketch, etc.
- Convert to edit – converts the image into lines which the user can edit. The apps will process it and then show a line art drawing version of the image (see the image below the list)
- Crop – crops the note so you can get rid of unneeded content in the image
- Cut – cuts the image so you can move it to a new place in the note
- Copy – copies the image leaving the original in place so you can later paste it somewhere else in the note
- Delete – removes the image from the page
Put S Note Widget on Home Screen
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 ships with the S Note widget on the default home screen. Many users customize their home screen, but never think to put the widget back after they removed it. Others change to a different home screen launcher, like the Google Now Launcher which changes the Note 4 to make it look more like a stock Lollipop phone.
To get the S Note widget back, find a place on your home screen that’s wide enough for the widget, which takes up four columns and one row. Press and hold on the home screen and choose Widgets, if you’re using the stock Samsung Touchwiz launcher. If not, then add use whatever steps needed in that launcher to add widgets. With the Google Now Launcher, you follow the same steps to add a widget as you would with Samsung Touchwiz. Find the S Note group of widgets and tap it. S Note comes with two widgets. The default widget that’s installed on all Note 4 phones is the 4×1 widget. There’s also a 4×2 widget. The two widgets differ by what’s accessible from the home screen. The 4×1 widget shows a row of five icons as follows (see image below list):
- S Note – opens the app
- Pen Note – opens a note ready for the user to use the pen or their finger to take notes
- Camera – opens the camera ready to import an image into S Note
- Text – opens a text-based note ready for the user to type notes
- Audio – the user can dictate notes using their voice which the app converts to text
The 4×2 widget shows those buttons plus the user’s notebooks. If S Note holds more than a few notes the widget can scroll side-to-side. The user can also resize the widget to show more notebooks on-screen.
Add one of the widgets to the home screen by tapping and holding on it. The widget drawer disappears and the home screen is ready for the user to drop the widget on it. Take your finger off the screen above the spot where you want it. In place, the widget will show a line around it with circles indicating the user can resize the S Note widget into a larger size. That only works with the 4×2 widget. Make it into a 4×3 or 4×4 widget. Tap on the notebook and the widget opens the notebook in S Note.
Make Custom S Pen Presets
The default pen color and size might not fit a user’s preferred usage, so S Note lets the user customize the pen presets. To do this, open a note and tap on the large pen icon in the upper left corner. If S Note was in some mode other than pen mode, the pen icon will look like a tiny black pen. In pen mode it looks like the tip of the real S Pen. Tap the black icon to put the app in pen mode and tap the pen icon again to bring up the Pen settings box.
The available pens show up in the Pen tab. Pen presents show up in the Presets tab. S Note doesn’t ship with any presets, so configure the pen using the Pen tab and then tap on the plus icon in the top part of the Pen settings box next to the X that closes the box. This adds a Pen Preset to the Presets tab.
S Pen offers 7 pen styles. Choose one and then select the pen width using the slider below the pens. Then pick a color from the color selection section of the box. The arrows show more rows of pen colors. The rainbow-colored square lets the user pick a custom color even if it doesn’t show up on the rows of colors. The eye dropper lest the user select from a color in the current note. This works best when drawing or painting or to match the colors in a photo.
After adding some Pen Presets, choose the Presets tab to see the available Pen Presents. Tap on one and the box closes and the user can now write or draw with the chosen pen.
There’s also an eraser pen, but the user opens it from the app’s main. The person can also customize it in the Pen settings box. To change the eraser size, tap and hold on the eraser button on the main app toolbar. A new box pops up with a size slider and an ERASE ALL button that clears the note page.
There’s also a Text settings box. Tap on the T button which turns on the text typing tool. Press and hold it to bring up the settings box. The box shows an example of the chosen font. Below the example we see drop down buttons for font face, font size and three buttons for bold, italics and underline font. The color selection sits at the bottom of the settings box.
At the bottom of the S Note screen you’ll see a round button with three pens on it. Tap it to bring up the Pen Presents box. This makes choosing presents faster than opening the Pen settings box from the top toolbar. This doesn’t show up if the user didn’t add any pen presets.
Magnified Note for More Presence Inking
S Note includes a feature called Magnified Note. It opens a box at the bottom of the screen. What the user writes or draws in this box gets placed on the screen under a second box on top of the note above the magnification box. Move the other box to the insertion point in the note to begin writing or drawing.
The box includes a zoom feature that the person uses by tapping and holding on the triangle in the lower right corner of the box. Drag the box to make it bigger or smaller. The smaller the box, the more detailed the user’s handwriting can get.
The magnification box moves up or down so that the user can write on the lowest part of the screen when the box would normally cover over the note. To do that, tap and hold the center of the toolbar in the magnification box at the bottom of the screen and drag it up or down.
The toolbar buttons behave as follows:
- Arrow left – moves the box on top of the note above to the left
- Arrow right – moves it to the right
- Backwards L-shaped arrow – carriage return moves the box to the next line and puts it all the way to the left like the enter key on a keyboard
- Box mover – described above for moving the magnification box up and own
- Arrow up – moves the box on top of the note above up one line
- Arrow down – moves it down one line
- X – closes the magnification box so the user can draw directly on the note
At the right edge of the lower magnification box there’s a blue area. When a person writes in the box and gets to the right end, this blue area senses the ink and automatically moves the upper box over to the right. When it reaches the end of the page, it acts like an Enter key on a keyboard and moves it down one line and over to the left so the user can begin writing on the next line.
Want to draw something and show someone else how to draw it? S Note will record the sketching.
Open a note and tap the three vertical dots on the toolbar to open the note menu. Choose Record sketching and a tiny toolbar shows up on-screen. Tap on the red record button and start writing or drawing. Tap on the button again to stop the recording. Play it back using the play button. You can also delete the note from the toolbar. Save it and then open it later to show someone how to draw something, like a picture you want to use to teach someone else how to draw.
The record toolbar is movable. Tap and drag on the left edge of the toolbar and move it around on the screen to move it out of the way.
Unfortunately there’s no way to export this recording as a video file for others to enjoy outside of S Note.
Export Notes to Other Applications
Using the Android sharing feature, one can export notes to other apps in PDF, Text or JPG format. There’s a couple of ways to do it.
From the main screen of S Note, where all the user’s notes show up, tap on a settings icon on top of the note’s cover. A menu pops up. Choose Export to export will export the note as either a JPG file or a PDF file to the S Note Export folder on the phone’s storage.
The other method of sharing S Note notes with other apps or other people is to choose Share via. The user can choose from four optional formats.
- S Note file
- IMage file
- PDF file
- Text only
Pick one and the app launches the built-in Android share feature. Select the app from the options shown in the sharing menu. For example, save it to Evernote, email it using Gmail, or load it to Dropbox to name a few.