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Lost in a sea of phablet features? Here are 15 tips to become a Galaxy Note 4 master

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Samsung popularized the phablet with the original Galaxy Note and it has refined the superphone formula with each new release. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was an instant success when it was first launched, and many still enjoy using it, despite the fact that it’s now aging. Own a Galaxy Note 4 yourself? These Galaxy Note 4 tips should help you harness the beast.

How to use the Note 4 one-handedSamsung Galaxy Note 4

The Note was ridiculed along with the whole phablet category for being too big to handle when it first appeared. Who’s laughing now? It has actually gotten bigger over the years, but Samsung has a solution. Go to Settings > Display and wallpaper > One-handed operation and you’ll find the Reduce screen size option along with the ability to set One-handed input and a Side key panel. The beauty of these options is that they’re fully configurable. You can set the size of screen you want, adjust the position of the dialer and keyboard, and set a custom menu of hardware buttons as a touchscreen panel.

How to use gestures

Command your Note 4 with a wave of the hand or a touch by going into Settings > Device > Motions and gestures. Direct call enables you to trigger a call by just holding the Note 4 up to your ear, Smart alert lets you know about missed notifications by vibrating when you pick it up, you can mute or pause your Note 4 by placing your palm over the screen or flipping it over, and Palm swipe to capture is an easy screenshot shortcut. There are more handy gesture options in Settings > Personalization > Accessibility where you can use Single tap mode to dismiss alarms, calls, and events, or enable Air wake up so you can bring the screen to life by hovering your hand over it.

How to configure the S PenSamsung Galaxy Note 4

If you’re not using the S Pen then you’re missing out. This isn’t just a standard stylus; it offers a range of useful shortcut features and functionality. It all begins in Settings > Device > S Pen where you can choose whether sliding the S Pen out of its holster launches Action memo, Air command, or nothing at all. You can also have your Note 4 alert you when you leave the S Pen behind and walk off, and you can choose whether you want it to trigger sounds and vibration for feedback.

How to use the Finger Scanner

If you want to set up the fingerprint sensor, you’ll find it listed as Finger Scanner in Settings under Personalization. You’ll use Fingerprint manager to register your fingerprint, but you’ll also find the options for using it in the Finger Scanner menu. You can use it to unlock the Note 4, to quickly log in to websites, to verify your Samsung account, and to pay for goods and services with PayPal.

How to save power

The sheer variety and depth of Samsung’s menus can seem over the top, but the fine-grained control it gives you over how your Note 4 works is awesome. One area you’ll definitely want to tweak to suit you is the Power saving mode. Head into Settings and look for Power saving under System. There’s a normal Power saving mode and an Ultra power saving mode option. You can decide when they are triggered and configure exactly what they do in terms of restricting performance, background data, and even color.

How to use voice commands

You’ve got a couple of great options for hands-free voice control on the Note 4.

Go to Settings > Language and input > Voice search > “Ok Google” Detection and tick Always on and you’ll be able to launch Google Now and search by saying “Ok Google” from any screen. You can even tick When locked if you want to be able to search from the lock screen. It works even when the screen is off and the Note 4 is locked. You should also make sure that you use the Retrain voice model option to train it to hear your voice.

Samsung has also included a very useful Car mode which will sync with your car via Bluetooth and offer easy access to the Phone app, Messages, Navigation, and Music. You can also say “Hi Galaxy” and then issue a voice command for hands-free operation.

How to use Smart selectSamsung Galaxy Note 4

You’ll find the Smart select option in your Air Command menu. Hover and drag the S Pen over any content that you want to capture and share. It will be stored on a kind of clipboard for later use. It can capture text, links, and images all at once. From the clipboard, you can select from the usual full range of sharing options to send it an email, post to social media, or open it in an app. You can also extract text from Smart select content and share it directly with an app, for example an address that opens in Google Maps, or a date that’s added directly to your calendar.

How to keep things private

There are apps on Android that will let you keep your risqué photos or videos hidden, but with the Note 4 Samsung has built in a Private mode. Take a look in Settings > Private mode and follow the setup instructions to select photos, videos, audio recordings, and other files that you want to keep away from prying eyes. You can lock them behind a pattern, password, PIN, or use the fingerprint sensor.

How to get more camera modes

Samsung has included all the standard camera modes you’d expect to find in a modern smartphone, but you can actually download a few optional extras by tapping on Mode in the camera app and then choosing Download. Some people may find things like Sound & shot or Animated photo gimmicky, so it’s nice that you can choose whether to add them or not.

How to take great selfies

The world seems to have gone a selfie mad and Samsung is leaping on that bandwagon with a bunch of camera features to help you snap awesome selfies by your lonesome or with a big group of friends. You have a bunch of options on how to take a selfie. You can put your fingertip on the heart-rate sensor and take it off to snap the shot. You can also say “Smile,” “Cheese,” “Capture,” or “Shoot” by activating Voice control in the camera app Settings > More. You can even set the Volume key to take a shot in Settings > More by choosing The Volume key.

Samsung has also added a Wide selfie option under Mode in the camera app. It’s like taking a panorama as you are directed to swivel the Note 4 to get everything in. If that’s not enough you can use the main camera by choosing Rear-cam selfie and then obey the beeping prompts to capture the shot.

How to make sure you don’t lose your Note 4

You’d think it would be tough to lose a phone this size, but it happens and the threat of theft is very real. That’s why you should download, install, and set up Android Device Manager. It’s free and it will allow you to play your ringtone at full volume for five minutes (handy when it’s down the back of the couch), remotely lock the device, remotely wipe the device, and track its location. You can do all of this through your browser here.

How to change or speed up Touch WizSamsung Galaxy Note 4 Screenshot

There’s no doubt that Samsung’s TouchWiz has a lot to offer, but not everyone is in love with it, and it can also feel laggy sometimes. You have a few options.

You could opt for an entirely different launcher. Nova launcher is a good option, but there are loads more to choose from in the Play Store and they’re generally fully configurable to enable you to get the look and feel you want.

You can make things feel snappier by activating developer mode. Go to Settings > About device and tap on Build number seven times. Go back to Settings and you should now see Developer options above About device. Tap on it and you can set Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale down from 1 to 0.5 or even 0.

Samsung does also offer the option to turn transition animations off or change them. Go to Settings and find Home screen listed under Device where you’ll find the Transition effect option. You’ll also find Flipboard Briefing in here for turning off the Flipboard stream that pops up when you swipe left to right on the home screen.

How to take a quick memo

The Action Memo app is the first option in your Air Command menu which pops up when you press the S Pen button and hold it over the screen. You can use it to take a quick note. If you go to Settings and choose Lock screen under Device you can tick Action memo on lock screen. Now you can launch Action Memo from the lock screen by pressing and holding the S Pen button and double tapping the screen.

How to boost your hearing

The Note 4 has two really cool features tucked away in the Settings > Accessibility > Hearing > Sound detectors. They’re obviously designed for the hard of hearing, but you might find them useful for other reasons too, like maybe you’re listening to music or gaming with headphones on.

You can record your doorbell sound, so the Note 4 recognizes it and vibrates when your doorbell rings. There’s also a Baby crying detector so you could leave your Note 4 within proximity of your baby and have it send a vibrating alert to your Galaxy Gear smartwatch if the baby cries. Just remember to mute your phone first or it may end up waking them with an incoming call.

How to share content on your home network

It used to be called AllShare Play, but Samsung Link is probably a better name. In any case this app allows you to set up easy photo, video, and document sharing between your Note 4, Samsung TV, and PC. If you have a lot of Samsung devices it’s well worth setting up. You can use it to remotely access files on your home network when you’re out and about with your Note 4, back up new photos and videos from your Note 4 onto your PC hard drive, and stream content to your big screen.

We’ve reached the end of our Galaxy Note 4 tips roundup, but if you have a tip to suggest we’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Simon Hill
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Simon Hill is an experienced technology journalist and editor who loves all things tech. He is currently the Associate Mobile…
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