How to quickly launch apps and camera from Galaxy S 3

The Samsung Galaxy S III (S3) has some pretty cool built in shortcuts to get you quickly to the apps you need most. 

With most Smartphones on the market, getting to your apps quickly take at least a few swipes, clicks or voice commands. What I always loved about BlackBerrys was the programmable Convenience keys that got me into an app with just one push of the button.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 may have come closest to recreating that “quick app launching” experience with the shortcuts on the lock screen and the innovative way of activating them.

The Galaxy S3 Lock screen 

Turn on your Galaxy S3 and (unless you have made changes to the Lock screen) you see the familiar dandelion image with four icons at the bottom.

typical lock screen

Typically, you swipe across the screen to unlock it and then go into whichever app you want.  So, that’s one swipe to unlock, then one tap of the App drawer and then a few swipes of the screen to find the app and then you tap and launch the app.

Alternatively, perhaps you have apps saved in folders (as I do) and just swipe over one Home screen to find the folder with the app you want.  Again, too many swipe and taps to really be efficient.

Quick launch Lock screen icons

Those four icons on the Lock screen are there for a reason; you can simply quickly swipe up from any of those four icons to immediately launch the associated app.  So, swipe up from the Phone app to launch it.  If you use S memo often, just swipe up from the lock screen starting with your finger on the S memo icon and move upwards and S memo with launch.

quick launch phone app  Quick launch S memo

Quick launch Camera app from Lock screen

One thing that users have asked about is the ability to quickly launch the Camera app from the Lock screen. Fortunately, this is a pretty easy thing to “unlock” in your Galaxy S3 Settings app.

security options  quick camera access turned to ON

  1. Pull down the Notification drawer
  2. Touch the Settings icon (or touch the Settings app icon)
  3. Scroll down to Security and tap
  4. Tap on Lock screen options
  5. Toggle the switch next to Camera quick access to the ON position
  6. To use the Camera quick access feature:
  7. Tap the power button to get to the Lock screen
  8. Touch the screen and keep holding (you will now see a new icon of a screen lock on the screen)
  9. While holding your finger to the screen, rotate your phone left or right (to a landscape orientation) and the Camera will automatically launch

camera turns on

To edit or change the Lock screen icons

Fortunately, you are not stuck with the four Lock screen icons that ship with the Galaxy S3; you can edit them to any four apps on your phone. To edit the Quick launch icons:

  1. Launch your Settings app
  2. Scroll to Security and tap
  3. Tap on the Lock screen options tab
  4. Tap on the Shortcuts tab at the top
  5. Touch and hold any of the four icons and drag it down to the Trash icon
  6. You will now see a + icon at the right
  7. Tap the + icon
  8. Choose from any of your installed apps to be the new Shortcut app
  9. You should now see the icon for that app in the shortcuts

touch on Shortcuts  drag icon to trash

In this example, I wanted to replace the Messaging icon with a Gmail icon.

add new icon  add GMail icon

Using Quick launch icons with Security enabled

These quick launch features are great and work beautifully if you don’t use any sort of real “security” on your phone. If you choose either the Swipe (standard) or Motions unlocking methods – which offer no security – you can use the quick launch procedures outlined above to launch apps and the Camera.

If you do use security, however – either Face Unlock, Password, Pin or Pattern, you need to enable one other feature to have access to the quick launch features. Otherwise, you will enter you PIN, Password or other security method and simply unlock the phone and go to the main Home screen.  You need to enable the Swipe lock on top of the other security method.

In this example, I have PIN security enabled, but want access to the quick swipe up and launch feature.

  1. Go to your Settings app
  2. Go to Security
  3. Under the Screen lock tab notice the With swipe lock tab
  4. Put a check mark in the With swipe lock box
  5. Now, when you tap the Power button, you get the Swipe to unlock screen as the first screen. You can:
  6. Swipe to unlock
  7. Swipe up on one of the Quick launch icons
  8. Touch and hold and rotate to use the Camera

enable with swipe lock  add PIN after swiping

After you perform one of those options, you then need to either input your PIN, Password or use the other Security method that you have set.  This does add one more step to the process, but it still gives you the benefit of having these Quick launch features on your phone and maintain the security you need.


Reader comments

How to quickly launch apps and camera from the Galaxy S3 Lock screen


I am really digging these seemingly little options that Samsung has added to the SIII. They really do make the phone a pleasure to use. I only wish they didn't remove home screen picture scrolling, universal message swipe to delete and. Double click to make webpage text fit screen width desired options that have been common on earlier phones. Awesome phone all around. Nice write up. Keep them coming!

Hey, good post. Thanks Gary. Overall, I love my SGSIII (up from an original Droid Inc.).

How about a How-To on the S-III screen capture feature?

Doesn't work on my S3 - but then none of these shortcuts ever do. Maybe because Orange disable so much on them.. no lock cgreen options menu, no updaye button under About Device. Seriously poor. Disappointed with it and will try something else soon.


Great article, one thing that i still am trying to figure out, can you launch the camera with one swipe without entering the passcode even if you have passcode enabled? My old iphone did this but just wouldn't let you do anything other than camera and the pictures you have taken in that 'session' without then entering a passcode and it meant very quick access to the camera!



Hi - looking for an answer to the same question.

Have an "aging" Sony Xperia S today with a dedicated camera/ shutter button. Pushing the camera button triggers the camera, although the phone requires a password to be unlocked for other functions.

Now - Sony has dropped the camera button on their Xperia Z phone.

I am considering the HTC One, Xperia Z and the Samsung Galaxy. Will I be able to use the camera on all three of these phones without having to unlock the phone with password first?

Bjørn Tore